Seniors get Education Tailored to their own Health Concerns

The Issue

Seniors get Education Tailored to their own Health Concerns
More than 33 million Americans are age 65 or older, and the number of seniors in the United States is expected to double over the next 30 years. In Sacramento County, 15 percent of the population is over 60. An increase in age over 65 may increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Eighty percent of seniors have at least one chronic health condition and 50 percent have at least two. Heredity and lifestyle are two factors that affect the aging process. Dr. George Xakellis, an associate professor of family and community medicine at UC Davis Medical Center, said healthy aging is 30 percent genetic and 70 percent behavioral. "Over two-thirds of the things that you need to do to age healthfully are within your control," he said.

What Has ANR Done?

Focus groups were conducted with 57 seniors from two Sacramento County housing facilities. The participants were asked: What are your major health concerns and what would you like to know more about? Diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and high blood pressure were the most commonly noted major health concerns. The focus group responses were used to create an educational program for senior consumers, which was subsequently presented in English and Russian at the two senior housing facilities.

The program increased awareness among seniors of the importance of exercise, nutrition and regular doctor visits. At the end, they were able to identify major health concerns, list steps toward healthy aging, recognize personal areas to change for healthy aging, and discuss risk factors associated with breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.

The Payoff

Seniors Adopt Steps Toward Healthy Aging

Senior consumers are concerned about their health. Many of them experience symptoms that may be signs of chronic disease. These seniors are interested in knowing how to prevent chronic disease and to make changes in their behavior to promote healthy aging. Healthy seniors can remain in their homes with little assistance. As health care costs continue to rise, it is imperative for seniors to learn how to promote healthy aging.

Clientele Testimonial

Comments from senior consumers following the education program:

“I will exercise and try to stay on my diet. Also, I’m going to see a doctor regularly.”

“Exercise, watch my diet, and increase social communication.”

Contact

Gloria J. Barrett, County Director and
Community Development/Public Policy Advisor, 4145 Branch Center Road, Sacramento, CA 95827-3898, (916) 875-6520, gjbarrett@ucdavis.edu