MU study reveals health benefits of ‘aging in p


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Credit: University of Missouri

COLUMBIA, Missouri — The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has found that the majority of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they get older. However, given the natural decline in health that accompanies aging, some older people may need to move into a nursing home or assisted living facility to receive more intensive levels of care.

To help seniors live independently as they “age in place,” University of Missouri researchers analyzed eight years of health data from 2011 to 2019 for more than 190 TigerPlace residents, a seniors’ residence developed in partnership between the MU Sinclair School of Nursing and Americare Senior Living.

Researchers found that because nurse care coordinators were able to identify illnesses early and quickly in residents and provide them with appropriate care and services, most seniors living at TigerPlace were able to stay better. longer, allowing them to “age comfortably”. place” and reduces their need to be transferred to a nursing home for more intensive levels of care.

TigerPlace combines the convenience and privacy of individual apartments with many opportunities for recreation and socializing, such as sports bars, fitness centers, live music performances, pet therapy tours, dominoes, Bible studies , bingo, volunteer opportunities and programs with local churches.

Residents at TigerPlace received health assessments from nurse care coordinators every six months regarding cognitive functioning, performance of daily tasks, depression, fall risk, and physical functioning. Additionally, some residents have opted to use non-invasive motion, bed, and depth sensors to determine activity level, respiratory and heart rate, and fall detection. Changes in activity, new or increased falls, and assessment were used to identify illnesses, such as pneumonia or a urinary tract infection, as early as possible so that interventions could be performed quickly.

“The benefits of regular health assessments and the use of non-invasive sensors have helped keep them stable as they age comfortably,” said Lori Popejoy, lead study author and associate professor at MU Sinclair. School of Nursing. “The goal is to identify slight declines in health as early as possible so that the right services can be put in place, whether that means connecting them with a doctor, starting therapy or begin treatment for depression, whatever is needed based on assessments.”

Popejoy added that the exercise and socializing opportunities available at TigerPlace help improve physical and mental health outcomes, as well as reduce the risk of falls by improving muscle mass and strength. The average age of study participants was 84 years.

“Residents can use these services to improve their quality of life in retirement, allowing them to live independently longer,” Popejoy said. “For seniors who are still living at home and may be starting to notice increased difficulty performing daily activities, or for those struggling with social isolation, moving to a facility like TigerPlace can be very helpful for live a healthier life longer and possibly avoid the need to move to a nursing home.

The research study was interdisciplinary in nature, involving the collaboration of nursing students, medical students, social workers, engineers, and information technology professionals.

With May being “America’s Seniors Month,” Popejoy has dedicated his career to improving the quality of care for the elderly. She has provided hands-on clinical care in a variety of health care settings, from hospitals and nursing homes to community centers and home care agencies.

“Longitudinal Analysis of Aging-in-Place at TigerPlace: Resident Function and Well-Being” was recently published in Geriatric nursing.

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