Asa Offers Community-Based Tools on Timely Subjects

Article excerpt

Although most members of the American Society on Aging are familiar with the association's annual Joint Conference with The National Council on the Aging, professionals in the field of aging also look to ASA for other education and training resources throughout the year. In this issue of Aging Today, I want to highlight a few of the grant-funded projects and programs developed in the past year, as well as works in progress, that help professionals serving older adults and their families.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND DISEASE PREVENTION

Earlier this year, ASA released "Food for Health: Nutritional Well-Being for Older Adults," the newest learning module in the "Live Well, Live Long" online training series, in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The module was developed for aging-services professionals who do not have an extensive background in nutrition. The Web-based tools provide information, resources and examples to support healthy eating among older adults so that the food of everyday life can be what we like to call food for health, and elders can reap the benefits of better nutritional choices.

The nutrition module builds on five others in the "Live Well, Live Long" series. Last autumn, ASA released the "Diabetes Prevention and Management" module to address the complex issues surrounding diabetes in people's later years. Each module offers a nuts-andbolts approach to developing a successful program for older adults, complete with examples from around the United States and from a variety of ethnic communities.

Other educational modules focus on cognitive vitality, medication use, driving wellness, mental wellness and physical activity. More than 7,000 professionals subscribe to the monthly electronic newsletter providing updates on these and other health-promotion topics. For more information or to sign up for the complimentary newsletter, visit WWW-MS aging.org/cdc.

MEDICARE TRAINING

ASA launched a community education effort last autumn in response to requests for more information and training on the implementation of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act-including the new Part D prescription-drug benefit and lowincome subsidy. Produced in collaboration with Pfizer Community Health Advocacy, the program involves more than 100 volunteers and professionals in grassroots community-based organizations. Representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and ASA Medicare Advisors conducted workshops in 19 communities around the United States. The program offered the latest information on Part D, demonstrated the CMS Plan Finder and answered questions about changes in prescription drug coverage.

This initiative builds on the Medicare Advisors training program conducted by ASA last spring. More than 2,000 community-based organizations have registered with the website to learn how to navigate through the Medicare coverage. As part of that effort, ASA has trained more than 700 Medicare Advisors and Trainers on changes to Medicare coverage. For more information or to sign up for Medicare updates, visit www.asaging.orgl medicare.

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

As part of AS A's strategic commitment to support approaches that focus on the strengths of older adults-not primarily on their physical or mental deficitsthe organization has embarked on a three-year project funded by Atlantic Philanthropies to explore the emerging area of civic engagement. A recent survey of ASA members demonstrates the need-97% of respondents indicate a high level of interest in the concept of civic engagement, but only 59% of the organizations ASA members represent currently offer programs aimed at engaging older adults in new ways to contribute to their communities, such as by volunteering their skills, time and energy.

Even though older adults are experiencing longer periods of healthy and active retirement, the aging-services community remains largely focused on an outdated image of aging as a period of withdrawal from social engagement and declining function. …