Spring 2021 Newsletter
By Laura Stilwell, MEd
UAMS Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative (AGEC)
The Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative (AGEC) at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has the mission to provide high quality programs that support healthy aging in Arkansas. Currently the population of adults age 65 and older is 54 million, or about sixteen percent of the nation’s population (US Census Report, 2019). In Arkansas, the number of adults age 65 and older is 524,000 and represents 17.4 percent of the state population (US Census Report, 2019). By the year 2030, the population of adults age 65 and older is expected to rise to 20 percent nationally and to 26 percent statewide (US Census Report, 2020).
The aging population, becoming the largest population sector in the future, has specific needs that must be addressed by the medical community. This age group presents with a host of chronic health problems; cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type II diabetes, osteoarthritis, muscular atrophy and dementia related illnesses. Through regular exercise and nutritional monitoring many of the chronic debilitating diseases can be improved, alleviated or prevented (Lee et al., 2017) (USDA, 2021). Of all Medicare beneficiaries, 68% suffer from 2 or more chronic diseases (Lochner et al., 2013).
Two modalities that have a positive effect on the quality of life of older adults are exercise prescription and nutritional monitoring (Minett et al., 2019). The medical community, recommends exercise prescription as the first choice in prevention and reversal of some of the chronic diseases of the older population (Tyndall, et al., 2018). For maximum efficacy, dietary education along with the exercise prescription provide the cornerstone of creating and sustaining enhanced quality of life for the older adult (Minett et al., 2019).
At AGEC, three programs have been implemented to address the need for regular exercise and for dietary education. Ageless Grace, a non-weight bearing aerobic activity, and Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention are programs that provide modalities for improving muscle mass, balance and improved cardiac output (Grabiner et al., 2014). Using the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for 2020-2025, AGEC has developed a cooking class entitled From Our Kitchen to Yours. The recipes and content are based specifically on chapter 6 of the guidelines which is dedicated to the dietary needs of the older adult population (USDA, 2021). The nutritional guidelines found in the Dietary Guidelines for 2020-2025 provide years of research for the nutritional needs of the older adult (USDA, 2021).Information about all three programs can be found on the AGEC website (agec.uams.edu) and on our Facebook page.
The literature cited gives a rationale for the holistic care of the older adult. By providing education and programs that target the health issues faced by the older adult, overall wellness and quality of life can be achieved. Students, clinicians, and physicians in tandem with the programs provided by AGEC and its partners shape this pro-active version of health care for older adult education in Arkansas.
Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (2021). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf
Grabiner, M.D., Crenshaw, J. R., Hurt, C. P., Rosenblatt, N. J., & Troy, K. L. (2014). Exercise-based fall prevention: can you be a bit more specific? Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 42(4), 161–168. https://doi.org/10.1249/JES.0000000000000023
Lee, P. G., Jackson, E.A., Richardson, C. R., (2017). Exercise Prescriptions in Older Adults. American Family Physician, 95(7), 425–432.
Lochner, K. A., Goodman, R. A., Posner, S., & Parekh, A. (2013). Multiple Chronic Conditions Among Medicare Beneficiaries: State-level Variations in Prevalence, Utilization, and Cost, 2011. Medicare & Medicaid Research Review, 3(3), mmrr.003.03.b02.
Minett, M. M., Binkley, T.L., Holm, R. P., Runge, M., & Specker, B. L. (2019). Feasibility and Effects on Muscle Function of an Exercise Program for Older Adults. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 52(2), 441–448.
Tyndall, A. V., Clark, C. M., Anderson, T. J., Hogan, D. B., Hill, M. D., Longman, R.S., & Poulin, M. J., (2018) Protective Effects of Exercise on Cognition and Brain Health in Older Adults, Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 46(4), 215-223
United States Census Bureau, (2019). American Community Survey TableID S0103.
United States Census Bureau, (2019). Population Estimates for Arkansas. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/AR/AGE775219
Vespa, J., Armstrong, D. M., & Medina, L., (2020). Demographic Turning Points for the United States: Population Projections for 2020 to 2060. https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2020/demo/p25-1144pdf.html