MU study finds health benefits of ‘aging in p


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Photo credit: University of Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found that the majority of older adults want to remain in their own homes as they age. However, given the natural deterioration in health that accompanies aging, some older adults may need to move into a nursing home or assisted living facility to receive more intensive care.

To help older adults live independently while “aging in place,” University of Missouri researchers analyzed eight years of health data from 2011 to 2019 for more than 190 residents at TigerPlace, a facility for seniors living in It was developed in collaboration with MU Sinclair Nursing School and Americare Senior Living.

The researchers found that because registered care coordinators were able to identify illnesses in residents early and quickly and provide them with appropriate care and services, most older adults living at TigerPlace were able to stay healthier longer, allowing them to age comfortably in the place.” and reduced their need to be transferred to a nursing home for more intensive care.

TigerPlace combines the comfort and privacy of individual apartments with many recreational and socializing opportunities, such as sports bars, fitness centers, live music performances, animal therapy visits, dominoes, Bible studies, bingo, volunteer opportunities and programs with local churches.

TigerPlace residents received six-monthly health assessments from registered care coordinators for cognitive function, completion of daily tasks, depression, risk of falls and physical functioning. Additionally, some residents chose to use non-invasive motion, bed, and depth sensors to track activity levels, breathing and heart rates, and fall detection. Changes in activity, new or increased falls and the score were used to detect illnesses such as pneumonia or a urinary tract infection as early as possible so that intervention could be carried out quickly.

“The benefits of both regular health assessments and the use of non-invasive sensors have helped keep them stable while aging comfortably,” said Lori Popejoy, lead author of the study and associate professor at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. “The aim is to detect mild deteriorations in health as early as possible so that the right services can be provided, whether that be connecting with a doctor, starting therapy or starting treatment for depression, whatever the basis of assessments is required.”

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

“Residents can use these services to improve their quality of life in retirement, allowing them to live independently for longer,” Popejoy said. “For older adults who are still living at home and may be experiencing increasing difficulties in coping with daily activities, or those struggling with social isolation, moving to a facility like TigerPlace can be very helpful in maintaining a healthier place for longer live and possibly avoid the need to ever move to a nursing home.”

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

Because May is “Older Americans Month,” Popejoy has dedicated her career to improving the quality of care for older adults. She has provided hands-on clinical care in a variety of healthcare settings, from hospitals and nursing homes to community centers and home care agencies.

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

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