Journal supplement examines innovative strategies for healthy aging

The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) proudly announces the publication of a Health Education & Behavior (HE&B) supplement devoted to the latest research and practice to promote healthy aging. The October 2014 supplement, "Fostering Engagement and Independence: Opportunities and Challenges for an Aging Society," contains a dozen peer-reviewed articles on innovative behavioral and psycho-social approaches to improve the health of the nation's fastest growing cohort - older adults.

Together the articles describe promising advances in research directed at the health and well-being of community-dwelling older adults. The articles address strategies for promoting mobility and physical activity, highlights of a workforce certificate program, community-based efforts and models, uses of technology, and analyses to better understand health disparities in minority populations.

"It is our hope that the articles encourage readers to take on innovative roles and pursue opportunities to influence the health, functioning and well-being of the growing population of older adults," says co-guest editor Lynda Anderson, PhD, Healthy Aging Program Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Several papers describe the importance of social engagement among older adults as well as the valuable role of community collaboratives and intergenerational efforts such as aging services networks, community colleges, Experience Corps and elementary schools. These collaboratives allow the expansion of program delivery in partnership with the health system. The Villages movement, a grassroots strategy by which organizations provide services to help older adults remain in their homes, also is spreading across communities as means to enhance social engagement, independence, and well-being of older adults.

Another article in the supplement provides new insights into the importance and value of civic service by older adults. Thomas R. Prohaska, PhD, co-guest editor and dean of the College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University notes, "Although the benefits of volunteering in in terms of improvements in physical and mental have been previously documented, there is now research that shows benefits of volunteerism in enhancing seniors' social and civic activity."

The co-guest editors summarize that further research on is needed, especially studies that simultaneously address multiple factors, such as chronic disease self-management and uses of technology.

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