The LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston is conducting research to help the National Councils on Aging develop a deeper understanding of older adults it serves by analyzing their economic and demographic profiles.

NCOA asked the LTSS center to develop a series of profiles of non-institutionalized older adults and use them to separate seniors into several segments. In particular, it wants to better understand a part of the senior population not often served by its programs and services – middle-income older adults.

“I think our analyses will provide new information to help NCOA target its programs to those people at risk for having to make major retirement-related adjustments to their standard of living,” said Marc Cohen, co-director of the LTSS center. “That information can enable NCOA to help these people better prepare themselves in advance.”

NCOA wants to know more about those seniors with incomes that place them above 250 percent of the poverty level and own housing assets but don’t have enough to live out retirement without a significant drop in living standards – unless they find ways to monetize their homes, remain employed longer or resolve debt issues.

“Much of the available information about older adults entering retirement is based on averages, masking the fact that segments of the population face far different exposures to economic risk in the future,” said Cohen. “Too little attention has been paid to the group generally considered ‘middle income.’ This analysis will begin to provide information on how segments of the older popular face very different retirement prospects.”

NCOA already focuses on seniors with incomes at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level. But it wants to know more about them to assess their preparedness to handle major shocks during retirement and to develop programs targeted to meet their unique needs.

In addition to demographic and economic analysis, the LTSS center will also examine ways for middle income seniors to monetize assets in order to deal with financial impact of issues such as poor health, caregiving and LTSS expenses during retirement.

Cohen is working on the NCOA project with UMass Boston graduate student Danielle Waldron. The research, which began in the fall, is scheduled to be complete by May 2018.