211257 Overcoming challenges to active aging in rural and small town America

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 10:30 AM

Rebecca H. Hunter, MEd , Center for Aging and Health, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Joseph R. Sharkey, PhD MPH RD , Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, School of Rural Public Health, College Station, TX
Lucinda L. Bryant, PhD , Department of Community and Behavioral Health, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO
William W. Hunter, MCE , Highway Safety Research Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Sarah Lowman, MPH , Center for Aging and Health, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC
Michele Skeele , Council on Aging for Henderson County, Hendersonville, NC
Small towns and rural areas face significant challenges in building healthy communities for active aging. As compared with metropolitan areas, these communities typically have fewer transportation resources, relatively greater distances to traverse, aging or minimal pedestrian infrastructure, and in some instances, environmental hazards from agricultural or industrial applications. For older adults with chronic disease or compromised functional status, such environmental challenges are especially problematic and can lead to restricted mobility, social isolation and loss of meaningful activities. To address the challenges successfully requires somewhat different approaches than those employed in urban settings. This presentation will include a conceptual approach to building healthy communities for active aging in non-metropolitan areas. It will draw upon lessons learned from the work of the Healthy Aging Research Network, the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, the UNC Center for Aging and Health and numerous community partners. Data from pilot studies in Western North Carolina will be shared to illustrate problems and potential solutions. Key topics include framing the issues, choosing appropriate assessment methods and tools, and promoting community collaboration. The presentation will emphasize strategies for environmental and policy change in nonmetropolitan communities and include lessons learned from exemplary initiatives.

Learning Objectives:
- Describe factors in nonmetropolitan communities that affect healthy, active aging. - Explain a conceptual framework for assessment and planning for active aging in nonmetropolitan communities. -Formulate environmental and policy change strategies to foster active aging in small towns and rural communities

Keywords: Environment, Rural Communities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been involved in research and program development in this area for over 20 years. In the past 8 years, I have served on the Environmental Aspects for Healthy Aging workgroup for the PRC-Healthy Aging Research Network, serving as a co-investigator in studies of the built environment and older adult physical activity. I taught a course in rural health at UNC for 12 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.