The Center on Aging at Colorado State University has been awarded a three-year, $1 million grant from the U.S. Administration on Aging to improve services for Coloradans who have Alzheimer’s disease.
In cooperation with the Colorado Department of Human Services Division of Aging and Adult Services and the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the Center on Aging will increase availability of in-home health care, respite care, adult day care and related services to individuals and families in rural Colorado dealing with dementia. The center will use the grant to educate caregivers in rural areas of the state and pay for supportive services with the goal of training Alzheimer’s care providers for every area of Colorado.
"The Center on Aging is a leader in providing education and services that improve the quality of life for the state’s growing elderly population," said Paul Bell, director of the center and professor of psychology at Colorado State. "We are very pleased to be awarded this competitive grant and excited about the opportunities it will bring to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease."
The collaborative effort will coordinate family and professional training and emphasize effective supportive services designed specifically for rural communities, teaching caregivers to use a comprehensive program and adjust to their patient’s changing health-care challenges. Special efforts will be made to serve the large population of Hispanic caregivers in rural Colorado communities.
"This is an exciting opportunity for the Alzheimer’s Association to collaborate with Colorado State University and to be able to expand our services to all parts of Colorado," said Linda Mitchell, president and CEO of the organization’s Rocky Mountain Chapter.
The project is expected to increase access to support services, enhance caregiver skills and create reliable and accessible networks of support for individuals with dementia and their families. Representatives of the cooperating agencies and from other leading health-care organizations will sit on a coordination task force to monitor the project’s progress and make ongoing recommendations.
The Center on Aging is an interdisciplinary research, education and outreach center drawing on the expertise of 25 faculty members from 10 Colorado State academic departments. The group concentrates on finding solutions for the unique problems created by a demographic shift to an older population, the prevention of excess disability and the optimization of qualify of life for the elderly.
"Approximately 12 percent of Colorado’s population is over age 65, and this number is expected to increase to 20 percent by 2030, with the fastest-growing segment being those over 85," said Bell. "The challenges of this demographic shift represent the focus of the Center on Aging."
Among the areas being addressed by active research programs at the center include the prevention of cardiovascular disease, occupational therapy for age-related disabilities, nutritional issues in aging, developing supportive services for caregivers of those with dementia, housing design for seniors, cognitive changes associated with aging and biochemical and physiological processes in aging.
The center, in cooperation with the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service as well as state and community agencies, additionally coordinates efforts statewide to provide a variety of programs and services related to aging. For example, the group publishes the "Healthy Aging" newsletter for seniors and manages the Healthwise for Life program that teaches senior citizens how to play a greater role in their own health care.
In cooperation with Colorado State’s Division of Educational Outreach and the state’s Mental Health Services, the Center on Aging also has developed a series of two-day workshops in geriatric mental health and prevention of elder abuse. The center is currently planning seminars and workshops about retirement and other issues of interest to senior citizens as well as working toward creating enhanced partnerships with a variety of agencies to improve the quality of life for rural elderly.
For more information about the Center on Aging, visit the Web at www.cahs.colostate.edu/coa.