New program addresses needs of aging society

Published April 27, 2018

They came to hear how their lives could be better, how they might overcome isolation and improve their balance. They wanted to learn how to eat better and make healthier choices.

Mostly, the dozens of senior Long Beach residents, who sat in the American Gold Star Manor recreation center, wanted to know how they will fit into today’s aging society.

The diverse needs and rapid growth of the older population in the face of limited resources is a key reason Long Beach State’s College of Health & Human Services have teamed with community partners to develop sustainable partnerships and solutions that will provide answers for today’s seniors. The partnership was discussed this week during the annual Donald P. Lauda Wellness Lecture called “Responding to an Aging Society: Partnerships in Practice.”

CHHS has teamed with American Gold Star Manor, SCAN Healthcare and Archstone Foundation to implement a program for the residents at Gold Star Manor that will serve as an incubator for a future, larger plan that would serve the Long Beach community.

“This will be a working laboratory to understand the needs of older adults,” said CHHS Dean Monica Lounsbery. “Sort of a think tank.”

The program initial efforts’ will be headed by Iveris L. Martinez, Ph.D., of the Archstone Foundation Endowed Chair in Gerontology and director of the Center for Successful Aging at Long Beach State; Dr. Gail Farmer, former associate dean for research and former chair in the Department of Health Science; Dr. Grace Reynolds, Professor of Health Care Administration Department, and Dr. Vennila Krishnan, associate professor of physical therapy and director of the school’s CRAB Laboratory

Martinez pointed out that data shows that by 2050 there will be 1.6 billion people over the age of 65 on the earth, with the fastest growing group being the Asian and Latino populations. Those two groups also tend to have more health and economic issues.

“By bringing together this facility and community partners… we hope it is the beginning of how we will respond to the aging society,” Martinez said.

Farmer said it is “important to create a culture of health and a lifestyle of getting together with others.” She has proposed creating cooking and gardening classes that will promote a “buddy system”, health literacy and help eliminate isolation among older adults.

“All we’ve said is that they can’t do is have a food fight,” Farmer said.

Krishnan said her work will deal with teaching older adults how to prevent falls that can rob them of a quality of life, while Reynolds will be responsible for the initiation and management of all project activities in collaboration with co-Investigator, Dr. Sandhya Shimoga.