Social and Community Context
102 - Social and Community Context: Benefits of Community Engagement and Social Interaction
Monday, July 16
1:15 PM - 2:30 PM
Location: Palladian Room-Lobby Level
Cassandra Barragan, MSW, PhD-Fitness, Social Interaction, & Belonging: Conversations about Social Connection with Participants of Senior Fit
Cassandra Barragan, MSW, PhD--The Importance of Opportunity to Build Social Networks for Older Adults: Understanding Motivation for to Participation in the Senior Fit Program and Differences Between Rural and Urban Areas
Janice Tyler, BA-Bringing the Community together to become “Age-Friendly”: Orange County, North Carolina
Liz Woodward, BA, MA-Walk Maryland: A State-Wide Health Promotion Initiative
Concurrent Session I B. Social and Community Context: Benefits of Community Engagement and Social Interaction.
Community engagement for healthy aging has many benefits for both the individual and the community. This session presents initiatives developed at the community, county and state levels to improve healthy living for older adults (OAs) and the community at large. Senior Fit, a hospital sponsored exercise program for community-dwelling OAs, has reached over 850 OAs at 21 locations in both urban and rural areas. Social isolation has been identified as a significant contributor to increased Medicare expenditures, and opportunities to reduce social isolation are limited for OAs, especially in rural areas. Survey results suggested OAs in rural areas were more likely to join Senior Fit with an intentional purpose to make new friends. Focus groups further suggested that Senior Fit gave participants a sense of purpose, provided opportunity for friendship and support, and improved personal outlook. Participants collectively felt part of a community and perceived the social benefit as at least equal to the physical benefit of the program. Orange County, NC has developed five-year “Master Aging Plans” (MAPs) since 2000 to guide policy and programs impacting older adult residents. These Plans have brought together representatives from local government, healthcare, community-service organizations and community residents to determine the greatest needs and identify ways to address them. The AARP/WHO Age-Friendly Communities framework was used to organize efforts for 2017-2022. Six Work Groups addressing 8 livability domains were created. Work groups determined goals, objectives, strategies and outcome indicators which were incorporated into the comprehensive Age-Friendly Communities plan. Over 200 individuals were involved, including 27 public agencies, 10 non-profit groups, 4 healthcare systems, and at least 40 private individuals. Walk Maryland is a statewide initiative aimed at increasing physical activity through the promotion of Maryland’s state exercise: walking. The program is an annual collaboration between state agencies and local partners including the Maryland Department of Health, the Maryland Department of Aging and the University of Maryland Extension. The presentation will review the history and development of the statewide Walk Maryland Day program and discuss the Maryland Department of Aging’s 2016 Older Marylanders Walk a Million Miles and 2017 Senior Centers Walk Maryland campaigns. Details on collaborative processes, methodology, and results will be discussed, along with specific examples of how walking was promoted at both the state and local level as a healthy way to increase physical activity.
Presented by AARP Foundation
- Recognize structured fitness programs as a mechanism to build social capital for older adults.
- Learn the basic skills to develop a community aging plan, including data collection processes; workgroup development; and how to use the WHO/AARP Age Friendly domains as a framework for community planning
- Identify relevant partners that may be beneficial to engage in collaborative public health partnerships