Taking Healthy Aging into the Community
Seniors in Columbia and Montour counties — and Bloomsburg University students — are benefiting from an inter-professional effort launched in fall 2014.
The Center for Healthy Aging was born out of the needs of older individuals in those two counties, where 17 percent of the population is over the age of 65. The center offers an opportunity for faculty and students to help and interact with community seniors.
The center is not housed in a specific building. “We go into the community rather than bring them to us,” explains Lori Metzger, assistant professor of nursing, who co-directs the center with fellow nursing faculty Deb Sanders.
BU students and faculty from four university departments — audiology, nursing, social work and psychology — work with administrators of the Columbia/Montour Area Agency on Aging and directors of the counties’ eight senior centers. The goal is to educate older adults on how to maintain their health, remain independent and stay safe. Most programs have been offered in the senior centers, and a few have been held in assisted living facilities, according to Metzger.
Based on seniors’ needs and feedback, the center has presented educational sessions on topics such as hearing aids, balance and fall prevention, diabetic complications, cooking for one, bullying in the older adult population and healthy aging.In its first year, the center has reached between 80 and 90 seniors, according to Sanders.
BU students participate as part of their course work. For example, students can choose to complete the nursing program’s 45-hour practicum, part of the leadership and management course, with the center.
The center initially was funded by a 2013 Presidential Strategic Planning Grant totaling $21,000 to be distributed over three years.
“Our approach is rather unique in that it’s an interdisciplinary approach,” Sanders added. “After all, we all interface with seniors.”