Online Program

Role of senior centers in improving health status of seniors

Sunday, November 3, 2013

William Spears, PhD, Department of Community Health, Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, Kettering, OH
Marietta Orlowski, PhD, MCHES, Department of Community Health, Wright State University, Kettering, OH
Objective: Senior Centers are a valuable resource in the community to help improve the health status of elders. Collaboration between Senior Centers and other community groups can improve the quality of the lives of seniors.

Design/Methods: The Community Health Assessment and Group Evaluation (CHAnGE) Tool was used to assess policy and environmental change strategies of 13 Montgomery County Senior Centers in the winter/spring 2012. Group interviews including one or two administrative staff and two or three community members of the senior center were conducted to assess the organizations' policies and environments in five sectors: physical activity, nutrition, tobacco, disease management, leadership.

Results: Of the 13 senior centers, 32% ranked high and 54% ranked as mid-high for providing healthy environments for members. Establishing healthy policies ranked high for 22% and mid-high for 39% of centers. Senior centers scored highest having supportive environments and policies related to tobacco use. Centers were ranked lowest on nutritional environments and having supportive policies for nutrition. This is because government regulations control the food environment in Senior Centers. Scores for most items were between 62% and 65%, above 50% but with significant room for improvement.

Conclusions: Senior centers are a venue that provides opportunities for seniors to learn how to engage in behaviors to help maintain their health. This evidence suggests that senior centers do a good job of following state and local regulations that support healthy lifestyles. There is considerable room for improving the efforts of senior centers to move beyond mandated environments and polices.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Identify the five areas covered by the CDC Change Tool Discuss differences in how senior centers create a healthy environment and develop policies to encourage healthy lifestyles Describe barriers senior centers face in encouraging members to maintain healthy lifestyles

Keyword(s): Public Health Education and Health Promotion, Community Health Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I assisted with development of the concept, data collection on the project, analysis of the data, and writing the report.
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.