States Make Healthy Choices for Elders

Article excerpt

The Aging States Project: Promoting Opportunities for Collaboration Between The Public Health and Aging Networks includes a "Promising Programs" section that highlights a selection of eight successful collaborations between state units on aging (SUAs) and state health departments (SHDs), often in partnership with community organizations. These programs include success stories and evidence-based best practices (evaluated for outcomes) in health promotion and disease prevention for older adults.

Respondents in 17 states described physical activity programs, primarily walking or resistance-training programs. Several were specifically targeted toward adults with disabilities. Other programs mentioned frequently were osteoporosis screening, education or awareness (to states); immunization programs (seven states); medication management or access programs (six states); and fall or injury prevention programs (four states).

The eight programs featured in the report included evaluation components and represented a cross-section of health promotion concerns. The report states, "Their efforts cut across diverse areas of health programming, including physical activity, fall prevention, immunization campaigns, health screening, disease management and community provider training. Some programs are well funded while others started on a shoestring. Some have weathered state budget cuts, agency reorganizations and mergers. More than one has faced an uncertain future in difficult fiscal times."

Following are summaries of the report's detailed descriptions of two promising programs in Massachusetts and Missouri. Others profiled in The Aging States Project are California's Preventive Health Care for the Aging Program, the Delaware Millennium March to Wellness, New Jersey's Health Promotion Initiative, the New York Adult Immunization Campaign, Maine's A Matter of Balance Program, and Pennsylvania's Prime Time Health: Peer Exercise Program Promotes Independence.


The Keep Moving Program, which promotes physical activity among people ages So and older, functions through a network of about 140 local walking clubs with more than 2,000 participants. Although it was started in 1985 as a project of the Massachusetts Executive Office for Elder Affairs, funding cutbacks in the recession of the late 1980s eliminated state support. An ad hoc advisory group of participants and supporters kept Keep Moving moving through private fundraising. When the economy improved in the mid-1990s, opportunities for state funding arose at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), one of the few SHDs with a dedicated organizational unit for older adults, the Office for Elder Health in the Division of Community Health Promotion. …