KIPLINGER: As America Ages, Hard Questions Loom

If it seems as if an assisted-living complex is going up on every other corner and half of the commercials on the evening news are for arthritis remedies, you’re not imagining things. The U.S. is rapidly aging, and businesses are responding. The percentage of people in the U.S. who are 65 and older has grown by nearly 35% in the past decade, and by 2040, about one in five Americans will be 65 or older, up from one in eight in 2000.

Although it’s comforting for seniors to be surrounded by people their age, the trend is troubling from an economic standpoint. Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in April showed that the country’s population grew by 7.4% over the past decade, the slowest rate since the 1930s.

See full article here.

VITAL RECORD: Aging successfully in the Brazos Valley

Every May the Administration for Community Living (ACL) leads the observance of Older Americans Month. This year, the national organization has set the theme of “Communities of Strength.”

According to ACL, “Older adults have built resilience and strength over their lives through successes, failures, joys and difficulties. Their stories and contributions help to support and inspire others. This Older Americans Month, we will celebrate the strength of older adults and the Aging Network, with special emphasis on the power of connection and engagement in building strong communities.”

See full article here.

VITAL RECORD: Adults with cognitive impairment who use pain medication have higher falls risk

Older adults with cognitive impairment are two to three times more likely to fall compared with those without cognitive impairment. What’s more, the increasing use of pain medications for chronic pain by older adults adds to their falls risk. Risks associated with falls include minor bruising to more serious hip fractures, broken bones and even head injuries. With falls a leading cause of injury for people aged 65 and older, it is an important public health issue to study in order to allow these adults increased safety and independence as they age.

See full article here. 

KAGS TV: Covid cases growing in children

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Vaccinations in America are available to young adults and older. However, children are not yet able to get the vaccine. In a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 22% of the new covid cases are children. 

Children can’t get the vaccine just yet, and that may be a large part of why the ratio of kids getting coronavirus compared to adults is on the rise.  

See the full article here.

AARP: 5 ways to sharpen your social skills after isolation

As the number of people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine increases, Tami Hackbarth knows the calls will start coming in: invitations from friends who want to meet for dinner, go to the movies or see live concerts.

But to Hackbarth, after months of limiting her social interaction, the idea of that increased interaction causes anxiety.

See the full article here.

VITAL RECORD: Malnutrition death rates among older adults in Texas 

Almost a fifth of the 4 million Texans age 65 and older are living with food insecurity, putting them at increased risk for malnutrition. This, in turn, can lead to diminished health, loss of independence, hospitalization and even death.

Although individual factors associated with malnutrition death rates have been identified, less is known about community influences at the county level in Texas. To identify the county-level characteristics associated with higher malnutrition death rates, Texas A&M Health Center for Population Health and Aging co-director Matthew Lee Smith, PhD, MPH, CHES, along with colleagues from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Texas A&M University, University of Texas at Austin and University of Cincinnati, examined the overall malnutrition death rates among older adults age 65 and older living in Texas. Their findings were recently published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging.

See the full article here. 

KAGS TV: How to find a peaceful headspace after tragedy

BRYAN, Texas — Mass shootings are no longer a rare occurrence in the United States. However, many may not know how to cope with the trauma if a tragedy were to take place in their community. Unfortunately, the memory may stay with someone for years.

“There’s been so many mass shootings but nobody expects it to happen in their community.” Dr. Marcia Ory, professor at Texas A&M’s School of Public Health said.

See the full article here. 

VITAL RECORD POV: Let's slow the downward trajectory of life expectancy in the United States

For the last century, Americans had been conditioned to see increases in life expectancy—or how long a person in the United States could expect to live, on average, at different timepoints—e.g., at birth, at age 65, at age 85, or even at age 100. Like other gerontologists, I included oft-cited statistics in my talks emphasizing gains in life expectancy at birth over the century—from 1900, when it was less than 50 years to 2000, when it was almost 80 years, and forecasting that life expectancies would likely continue to inch upward in the 21st century.

Popular commentaries abounded about what would happen if we all lived to 100. With life expectancy increasing, attention turned from longevity to active life expectancy. These gross statistics have belied the fact that there were always marked disparities between men and women and people from different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

See the full article here.

KAGS TV: Texas A&M participates in study to see if vaccinated people can spread COVID-19

BRYAN, Texas — Texas A&M is the only university in Texas that has been chosen to participate in a nationwide coronavirus vaccination study. 

The university is in search of one thousand students to participate in a coronavirus study that will study how people can be infected with and spread COVID-19 after they are vaccinated.

See full article here. 

VITAL RECORD: Pena-Purcell appointed to Texas Diabetes Council by Governor Abbott

Ninfa Peña-Purcell, PhD, MCHES, a research scientist at the Texas A&M Health Center for Population Health and Aging, has been appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to a six-year term on the Texas Diabetes Council.

As a member of the council, Peña-Purcell will work with colleagues to address issues affecting Texans with diabetes. In addition, the council advises the Texas Legislature on legislation to develop and maintain statewide diabetes education services for those with diabetes and for health professionals who offer treatment and education.

See full article here. 

VITAL RECORD: Suicide rates are on the rise among older white men in rural areas

Suicide is a major health concern in the United States. Yet, compared to younger adults and women, men are at a potentially greater risk for death by suicide. This could be due to delaying mental health services (or not attending at all), turning toward more lethal methods of suicide, and conforming to traditional masculine norms like emotion avoidance and self-reliance.

Although suicide rates globally are higher among older men than in any other demographic group, most suicide-related research has focused on younger populations. To better understand the extent of this public health issue for the entire older male population, Texas A&M Health Center for Population Health and Aging co-director Matthew Lee Smith, PhD, MPH, CHES, and colleagues from the University of Nevada, Indiana University and the Public Health Agency of Canada, examined rates of suicide deaths by men ages 65 and older in the United States from 1999 to 2018. Their findings were recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

See full article here.

VITAL RECORD: ACTIVE FOR LIFE: ORY CELEBRATES 20 YEARS AT TEXAS A&M, RECEIVES PRESTIGIOUS AWARD

As she nears her 20th year at Texas A&M University and a career spanning over four decades, Marcia G. Ory, MPH, PhD, is a leading scholar who embodies what women in health sciences can achieve. From her positions in the Texas A&M University School of Public Health, including Regents and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, as well as founding director of the Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging, Ory engages in a broad portfolio of research, education and practice that has made a difference in the lives of countless older adults and their families across the nation.

It is because of her sustained commitment to her research that Ory has received The Association of Former Students’ Distinguished Achievement Award in Research from Texas A&M University for 2021. Presented since 1955, this award recognizes outstanding members of Texas A&M’s faculty and staff for their commitment, performance and positive impact on Aggie students, Texas citizens and the world around them.

See full article here.

ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT GAZETTE: A PANDEMIC STRIKES: Isolation poses tough challenge for older people

While early data suggests the nation's aging population might be coping with the pandemic better than other age groups, researchers caution there isn't enough data to know the true impact on older people.

Research before the pandemic has shown that isolation can be detrimental, said Marcia G. Ory, a Texas A&M professor and director of the university's Center for Population Health and Aging.

"It impacts almost everything you can think of," Ory said. "It impacts going out and being physically active and engaging in healthy lifestyles."

See full article here. 

25 News KRHD VIDEO: Opioid Awareness in Brazos Valley

Click HERE to view the interview. 

Vital Record: What do caregivers think of fall alert devices? 

The falls alert device commercial used to be a mainstay in television marketing, with many people able to recite the iconic line about falling and not being able to get up. However, falls alert technology has progressed and now includes several types of wearable electronic devices powered by microprocessors that can be worn as accessories or embedded in clothing that send and receive data via cellular or internet networks. This technology can be lifesaving for care recipients and their caregivers, and the medical alert systems market is expected to be worth $9.6 billion by 2025.

Researchers from the Texas A&M Health Center for Population Health and Aging are taking a look at caregivers’ attitudes toward technology and use of fall alert wearables. In a study recently published in JMIR Aging, Marcia G. Ory, MPH, PhD, Matthew Lee Smith, MPH, PhD, and Shinduk Lee, DrPH, joined center Senior Fellows Deborah Vollmer Dahlke, MPA, DrPH, and Stephen Popovich to better understand the associations between care recipients’ use of fall alert wearable technologies and caregivers’ attitudes toward the technology.

See full article here. 

KAGS TV: COVID-19 vaccine standby lists filling up with people hoping to get leftover vaccine

BRYAN, Texas — People across the nation have been signing up to get their COVID-19 vaccination and it's no different here in the Brazos Valley. If people are not yet eligible to get the vaccine, some are turning to "standby" lists; lists that will vaccinate people when leftover vaccine is left behind.

The leftover vaccine is what is left in the vial after initial doses have been given. But, not wanting that vaccine to go to waste, some areas are using it to help get people vaccinated faster. COVID-19 vaccines have expiration dates, and some can expire faster than others. If you don't use it, you lose it.

See interview and full article here. 

Vital Record: Behind the pandemic, an epidemic worsens

Drug overdoses have increased drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Provisional data released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) indicates more than 81,000 deaths occurred from drug overdoses in the United States between June 2019 and May 2020, which is the largest number of drug overdose deaths ever recorded in the nation for a 12-month period.

See full article here. 

Vital Record: Educational grant allows Opioid Task Force to provide monthly virtual clinics for health care providers in rural and underserved areas

The Texas A&M Health Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) hub received an educational grant in January to extend training that helps health care professionals address the ongoing opioid epidemic in America. With sponsorship from Amerigroup Texas, a division of Anthem, Inc., the hub is able to offer free videoconferencing for providers in Texas, allowing the hub to expand the EMPOWER TeleECHO Clinic program to monthly virtual clinics.

See full article here. 

The Conversation: How age diversity in a presidential Cabinet could affect policies and programs

President Joe Biden’s Cabinet and top appointees will likely be the most diverse in U.S. history. He says they were purposely chosen to “look like America.”

As a scholar of how age is viewed in society, I study age as a major demographic grouping. With regard to President Biden’s Cabinet choices, my question is how diverse these appointments are in terms of age, and whether this matters.

See full article here. 

Vital Record: Ninfa Peña-Purcell will serve on Society for Public Health Education Board as trustee of Professional Development and Continuing Education

Ninfa Peña-Purcell, PhD, MCHES, a research scientist at the Texas A&M Health Center for Population Health and Aging, has been elected to the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) 2021-2022 Board of Trustees as the Professional Development and Continuing Education trustee.

“In my two-year term, I will work hard to build on the exceptional work SOPHE has done in providing high-quality continuing education to public health educators nationally. I hope to bring new ideas on how to best serve SOPHE membership with their professional development needs,” Peña-Purcell said. “This position will allow me to contribute to advancing the public health profession in a meaningful way by identifying gaps in education and resources that SOPHE can offer to professionals along the career continuum. The continuing education needs differ for those new in the field to those late in their career.” See full article here. 

The Conversation: Granny’s on Instagram! In the COVID-19 era, older adults see time differently and are doing better than younger people

Time in the era of COVID-19 has taken on new meaning. “Blursday” is the new time word of the year – where every day seems the same when staying home and restricting socializing and work.

As a public health and aging expert and founding director of the Texas A&M Center of Population Health and Aging, I have been studying the impacts of COVID-19 with an interest in debunking myths and identifying unexpected positive consequences for our aging population. See full article here.

Bloomberg Law: Sunbelt States Welcome ‘Snowbirds’ as Retirees Weigh Covid Risks

Retired mail carrier Kathy Erickson figures the coronavirus makes it just as risky to stay home in Nebraska this winter as it would be to head to Florida for a few months after Christmas to escape the snow.

Erickson, 60, is the type of visitor Sunbelt states expect more of as temperatures drop in colder regions: “snowbirds,” or other seasonal residents who are largely retired and migrate short term to temperate climates. But while snowbirds are a boon to the economy in many communities, this season they may bring complications because of the Covid-19 pandemic. See full article here.

KAGS: Gone home for break? Keep a check on mental health this pandemic holiday season

With the Thanksgiving break, Texas A&M has officially gone to virtual learning for the rest of the semester. Just as students went home in March to protect themselves and their loved ones from the coronavirus, they are doing so again, but it's far from easy this second time around.

“Research says that isolation can lead to mental health concerns whether it’s loneliness, anxiety, depression, grief," said Dr. Marcia Ory of the Texas A&M Public School of Health. "If they go home and people in their community have been impacted negatively by COVID, that’s going to cause some grief. It’s also the uncertainty, it’s not knowing whether they’ll be impacted or if their loved ones will be, so there’s a lot of reasons why we should really attend to mental health concerns." See the full article here.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette: State nursing homes report lag in covid-test results

As the pandemic's winter surge swells, roughly a third of Arkansas' nursing homes have recently reported delays in receiving their residents' covid-19 test results, an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette analysis of federal data shows.

The findings suggest testing lags that have persisted months into the the global health crisis, and which experts say could ignite further outbreaks in long-term care facilities. See the full article here.

KAGS: Heading home for break? Local health expert urges you to get tested beforehand

With many students headed home over the next week for the holiday season, Texas A&M is urging all students to get tested beforehand. 

Just like many other holidays this year, Thanksgiving and the holidays that follow might look a little different. 

“Don’t get tested on Monday and think that means I can go to the bar on Tuesday and home on Wednesday. It’s really interesting because people are so eager to get with their family members, particularly people who haven’t seen their loved ones for some time. But just today the CDC put out another bulletin really to advise people not to travel during the holidays and to get together with only people in their immediate families and their immediate households," said Texas A&M School of Public Health Dr. Marcia Ory. See the full article here.

Vital Record: FAMILY CAREGIVERS ARE AN INTEGRAL, UNDER-APPRECIATED FORCE

More than 50 million people in the United States are caregivers to aging parents, ill spouses or other loved ones with chronic diseases or disabilities. Families are the major providers of long-term care for older adults, and that unpaid caregiving accounts for more than $500 billion annually, according to the National Association for Area Agencies on Aging. To honor and recognize the contributions of these family caregivers, the month of November has been recognized National Family Caregivers Month.

“Family caregivers are an integral but often under-appreciated force in the American care system,” said Marcia Ory, PhD, MPH, founding director of the Texas A&M Health Center for Population Health and Aging. “They are the unsung heroes behind the medical teams and health care providers, helping with everyday routines and dealing with challenges of living with health problems.” See the full article here.

Vital Record: Study examines how a chronic disease self-management program adapted for the workplace impacted employee health behaviors

Noncommunicable diseases kill approximately 41 million people each year, according to the World Health Organization. Also known as chronic diseases, noncommunicable diseases tend to be results of a combination of factors—including genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioral—that occur over a long duration.

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), originally developed at Stanford University, uses a workshop format that teaches participants with chronic health conditions strategies and techniques for managing their health. These include exercising regularly, eating healthy and communicating effectively with family and health professionals. See the full article here.

The Conversation: Colleges and the Thanksgiving COVID-19 risk: Fauci’s right – holiday plans may have to change

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, warned this week that families may need to change their Thanksgiving plans to keep everyone safe from the coronavirus. The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, expressed similar concerns in a call with governors.

There has been an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases in most states in recent weeks, and we have seen cases rise in college towns in particular. Colder weather means more activities are moving indoors, where the virus can circulate. And people who have been socially isolated for months feel desperate for connection.

As the holidays approach, one important question is what impact sending college students home for Thanksgiving will have on their home communities. See the full article here.

The Conversation video: How will society change as the US population ages?

Editor’s note: Even as average life expectancy has started to trend downward in the U.S., Americans 65 and older are living longer. The change toward longer old age will have profound effects on health care needs, families and what it means to be old. Marcia G. Ory, founding director of the Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging, explains why all Americans will be affected by a bulge in the graying population. See the full video here.

Vital Record: Study on Matter of Balance fall-prevention program shows great benefits for older adults

For older adults, falls can be a serious occurrence. Roughly a quarter of American adults over the age of 65 fall in a given year, and about 20 percent of those falls result in serious injury or death.

One of the many factors affecting risks of falling and fall-related injuries is fear of falling. This is driven largely by a person’s fall-related efficacy, which is their level of confidence in standing or walking without falling. Several public health interventions have taken aim at reducing fear of falling, as improving fall-related efficacy can reduce risks of falling and improve physical activity in older adults. One such intervention, A Matter of Balance Volunteer Lay Leader (AMOB/VLL) model, has been in use for more than 20 years; however, synthesized analyses on the AMOB/VLL’s effectiveness are limited. See the full article here. 

Vital Record: REDUCE YOUR RISK OF FALLING IN OLDER AGE

Every September, Healthy Aging Month urges older adults to take the time to reevaluate and improve their physical, mental, social and financial well-being. Although things look a bit different in 2020, older adults can still make efforts to improve their surroundings and health—especially when it comes to preventing falls.

Falls are not a normal part of aging, but they are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans, with one in four older adults falling each year. Such falls can result in minor bruising to more serious hip fractures, broken bones and head injuries. See the full article here. 

Vital Record: THE COVID-19 SOCIAL CONNECTIVITY PARADOX

Humans are social beings, and our social relationships—both in quality and quantity—have a large impact on our health and well-being. Social support has long been recognized as a key social determinant of health (SDOH); however, social isolation and loneliness have only recently been recognized as SDOH and can be equated with negative health risks such as obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Although some progress has been made across health care, aging services and public health to combat social isolation, the movement is young and has been recently compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A paper led by Matthew Lee Smith, PhD, MPH, CHES, co-director of the Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging and associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health, introduces the COVID-19 Connectivity Paradox and describes strategies to improve and maintain social connectedness during the pandemic that promotes physical distancing for safety. See the full article here.

KAGS: What's the difference between dying of coronavirus VS dying with coronavirus?

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — As the number of coronavirus cases increase, questions about the accuracy of the data has also risen. 

“It’s really hard to know who’s actually dying of COVID because we think there’s a lot of misdiagnosis, so a lot of people aren’t being diagnosed and it doesn’t get on the record," said Texas A&M School of Public Health Dr. Marcia Ory. See the full article and video here. 

KAGS: Are you gaining quarantine weight? Here's how to keep yourself in check

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — With many gyms still closed and most people working at home, it may be hard to stay fit and healthy during this pandemic. See full article and video here. 

VERYWELL HEALTH: How Nursing Homes Are Resuming In-Person Visits

On May 18, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidelines to assist state officials in safely allowing nursing homes to resume visits, which had been restricted for months due to COVID-19. But as of July 15, only 31 states have allowed nursing homes to restart in-person visits for family and friends, largely because cases of COVID-19 continue to rise.

“People in long-term care facilities are more vulnerable [to COVID-19]," Marcia Ory, PhD, MPH, founding director of Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging, tells Verywell. "They’re more likely to have multiple chronic conditions, so the issue is that they’re experiencing a higher risk of mortality.” See full article here.

Intelligent Assistive Technology: Researchers investigate technologies to assist adults with dementia

In the near future, the United States is anticipating a dramatic increase in the number of older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. These conditions adversely affect patient health and well-being and will place further stress on professional and family caregivers. Intelligent assistive technology (IAT) driven by expansions in communications, sensors and voice recognition technologies promise to ease these burdens while improving quality of life for older adults living with dementia. IAT could lead to better care for this vulnerable population while allowing people with dementia to safely age in place in their own homes. However, the explosive growth of IAT raises several concerns regarding ethics and values as well as accessibility and equity. See full article here.

Researchers analyze risk perception of chronic health conditions among college students

Chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes are leading to increased mortality among young adults in the United States and carry billions of dollars in medical costs each year. The risks posed by these conditions can be modified through improved lifestyle choices, especially when healthy behaviors are started in early adulthood. However, research has found that college students often develop poor eating and activity habits and that college graduates make up about 15 percent of adults who currently smoke. Additionally, not much is known about how risk perception relates to health behaviors in this population. Thus, it is crucial to better understand the extent of unhealthy behaviors and perceptions of cardiometabolic risks such as obesity, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease among college students to develop targeted interventions. See full article here.

Chief Justice John Roberts' recent fall underscores the vulnerability of people 65 and older to falling

Chief Justice John Roberts often makes headlines for his legal opinions, but the 65-year-old recently made news for a different – and dangerous – reason. As thousands of older people do each year, Roberts fell. The fall occurred on June 21, 2020 at a Maryland country club. Roberts cut his head and was hospitalized. The event, which had two precedents, was reportedly due to dehydration. Roberts is reportedly recovered and fine. See full article here.

Social isolation: The COVID-19 pandemic's hidden health risk for older adults, and how to manage it

As coronavirus cases rise again, it can be hard for older adults to see any end to the need for social isolation and the loneliness that can come with it.

For months now, they have been following public health advice to reduce their risk of exposure by staying home, knowing an infection can have life-threatening complications. But sheltering at home has also meant staying distant from family, friends and the places that kept them active and engaged.

Inadvertently, the COVID-19 safety guidelines to self-isolate have created new health risks by leaving many older adults even more socially isolated and inactive than before. See full article here. 

Center for Population Health and Aging recieves Innovators in Aging Award

Texas Health and Human Services Commission has awarded the Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging an Innovators in Aging Award for their Active for Life® program. The awards were launched in 2018 to provide state-level recognition of innovations positively affecting the rapidly growing older adult population in Texas. See full article here.

How coronavirus has created a new split in American life

When Carol Zernial passes by Mexican restaurants and grocery stores in San Antonio, Texas, they seem packed, with “literally no parking places”. But she hasn’t been tempted to dine out, nor has she ventured down a grocery aisle since March. See full article here.

COVID-19 surge in TExas sparks reopening fears

Rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Texas are underscoring fears about the danger of reopening.

The state has been relatively aggressive about reopening, lifting its stay-at-home order on May 1 and gradually increasing capacity at shops, bars and restaurants since then. 

Now, though, the state is seeing a surge of cases of the coronavirus. The state reached a new high of coronavirus hospitalizations on Monday, with 1,935 people hospitalized with the illness, according to state data. See full article here.

Make Your Mark: Celebrating 2020 Older Americans Month

For this year’s Older Americans Month, the Administration for Community Living — who has led the initiative for 57 years — is celebrating older citizens and their contributions to our communities and by providing resources to keep them healthy and independent. Whether it is something big or small, you can “make your mark” to create a better community for our older adults’ present and future.

“Older adults are a vital part of our community. With the population of adults 65 and older growing faster than other age groups, we must come together to support those in the Brazos Valley through resources and companionship,” says Marcia G. See full article here.

Million Mile Month Virtual Challenge encourages global community to keep moving amid COVID-19

By: Stefanie Scott (Originally posted on HealthCode® Community.)

 

AUSTIN, Texas (April 1, 2020) – With people around the world and across Texas working at home amid the coronavirus outbreak, Central Texas leaders and health care professionals are encouraging Texans to stay active and healthy with Million Mile Month.

HealthCode’s Million Mile Month is a virtual local-to-global wellness challenge in which participants track  physical activity – from walking to dancing to yoga to gardening – with a goal of reaching 1 million miles collectively as a global community in the month of April.

With schools, gyms and offices closed and millions of employees working from home to slow the spread of COVID-19, HealthCode kicked off Million Mile Month a week early on March 25.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell, Jr. along with health care leaders are encouraging Central Texans staying at home to remain physically active keep moving to stay healthy and engaged with the community.

“The Million Mile Month is a fun way to keep people active and connected while safe at home,’’ Adler said. “At a time when we are asking folks to stay home and reduce contact, this virtual competition provides inspiration to keep us moving while providing an important sense of connection to the Austin community.”

Participating in Million Mile Month is simple. Participants sign up on  Million Mile Month registration page at https://events.healthcode.org/mmm2020 and log miles or minutes on the HealthCode online activity tracker. Throughout the month, the program leaderboard is updated with miles achieved globally. Participants can join as an individual or as part of an organization. Employers and other organizations can register at https://events.healthcode.org/wellness.

Marcia Ory, director of Texas A&M University’s Center for Population Health and Aging, said: “The current mandated COVID-19 social distancing guidelines are key to stopping the spread of the virus. Everyone should be following the recommended CDC guidelines.  But don’t forget – one of the best things people of all ages can do to maintain physical and mental health is to stay physically active and socially connected.”

“HealthCode’s Million Mile Month is a perfect way to stay both physically active and socially connected while abiding by CDC guidelines. So, get moving and have fun with virtual friends,’’ Ory said.

Dr. Jeff Hutchinson, an adolescent physician with People’s Community Clinic and former interim chair of pediatrics and associate dean with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, said: “In this time of physical distancing, it is easy to feel socially isolated. An activity that help us feel connected like HeathCode’s Million Mile Month is a perfect example of staying connected and staying active. Community and physical activity are the key to overcoming the challenges of our time.’’

Steve Amos, CEO and founder of HealthCode, said: “Whether it is across the street or around the globe, the goal of Million Mile Month is about creating connections while we engage in healthy living. While social distancing and quarantining is forcing us to be even more sedentary, we are challenging employers and individuals to take steps to stay motivated and maintain healthy habits while battling stress and remaining connected with colleagues, friends and family.’’

HealthCode is committed to raising awareness on living healthier, happier lives through physical activity, nutrition and the environment. Since launching the first Million Mile Month challenge in 2014, HealthCode’s programs have grown.

Whether it is an employer looking to develop a culture of wellness or an individual seeing to stay on track, HealthCode offers quarterly goal-based challenges with more than 50,000 participants and organizations across all 50 U.S. states and in 30 countries. In addition to Million Mile Month in April, programs include iResolve in January, Triathlon in a Month in July, Marathon in a Month in October and other initiatives.

About HealthCode

HealthCode, a nonprofit based in Austin, Texas, is dedicated to empowering people to live healthier, happier lives through education and encouraging physical activity, promoting healthy eating habits, supporting the environment and cultivating community connections. For more information visit https://healthcode.org.

KBTX Newscast: Senior Mental Health

Originally aired on KBTX at 4pm on March 27, 2020. Watch full video here.

The other health risk older adults face during COVID-19 pandemic: social isolation

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, populations are being required and asked to stay home to prevent widespread transmission of the disease. For many, this practice of social distancing can be trying on stress and mental health, and this is particularly true for older adults and those with underlying medical conditions, who, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are at a higher risk for severe illness. See full article here.

Protecting body and mind for older adults and those at high risk during COVID-19 

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, populations are being required and asked to stay home to reduce the impact of the virus. Social distancing practices have been trying on all individuals, but it is important in order to protect older adults and those with underlying medical conditions, who, according to the Centers for Disease Control are at a higher risk for severe illness. 

Follow Guidelines and Make a Plan
“First and foremost, follow the CDC’s guidelines for daily actions and everyday preventions to protect yourself and others and know the symptoms,” says Marcia G. Ory, PhD, MPH, and founding director of the Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging. See full article here.

Holiday Health: Loneliness and Isolation

For many, the holidays are associated with positive feelings of happiness, joy, love, and excitement where family and friends gather together, celebrating the closing of one year and the possibilities of new one. For others, the holiday season can be one of loneliness and isolation.

A 2017 AARP Foundation survey found that 28% of adults over 50 feel lonely during the holiday season. What many people don’t realize is that loneliness and social isolation are not synonyms.

“These are complex phenomena that we are learning more about every day,” says Matthew Lee Smith, PhD, MPH, CHES, FGSA, FAAHB, co-director of the Center for Population Health and Aging at the Texas A&M School of Public Health. “While some who are physically solitary may be content, others who are surrounded by others may feel completely alone.”  See full article here.

November is American Diabetes Month

November is American Diabetes Month and time to raise awareness about risk factors and concrete steps to help people live healthy with diabetes. More than 30 million people in the United States — that’s almost 10 percent of the population — are affected by diabetes according to the Center for Disease Control’s 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report. Marcia G. Ory , PhD, MPH, co-director of the Center for Population Health and Aging at the Texas A&M School of Public Health laments that “there are millions of Americans with undiagnosed diabetes, or those who lack proper education about diabetes and how to manage it properly. More common among middle-aged and older adults, diabetes diagnoses among adults has also more than doubled in the last 20 years and is especially common in Texas and locally.” In the Brazos Valley, about 20 percent of adults reported they were told by their physicians that they had diabetes, according to the 2019 community health assessment conducted by the Texas A&M Center for Community Health Development. See full article here.

The next generation of physicians' views on childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is a serious health issue in the United States, with about 20 percent of American children affected, increasing their changes of various health conditions later in life. Research has found that childhood obesity results from multiple interacting factors such as genetics and biology, behavior, and home and community environments. Studies have also suggested the need for further enhancing medical training related to childhood obesity care. Moreover, research focusing on student perspectives on the various causes of childhood obesity and how those perspectives affect the way students would deal with this condition in their eventual medical practice is sparse.

A new study by Texas A&M researchers published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health attempts to fill this knowledge gap by investigating how medical students perceive health disparities and how this perception is related their view of childhood obesity. See full article here.

Healthy Aging Month: Tips to Take to Heart

September is Healthy Aging Month! Now in its second decade, this is an annual observance to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older. The Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging works with others in the Bryan College Station area, as well as around Texas, to promote research-proven ways to age healthy and stay well. See full article here.

Texas A&M: Center for Population Health and Aging Recognized by Tivity Health for Contributions to Reduce Social Isolation and Improve the Health of Older Adults

 Tivity Health®recognized the Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging (CPHA) at the 2019 Connectivity Summit on Rural Aging. CPHA is one of 19 organizations nationwide recognized for community-based programs that successfully promote healthier aging and social connectivity among older adults. CPHA’s work with Texercise Select in rural and underserved areas of Texas, was recognized in the storybook Aging Well in Rural America: A Collection of Stories from the Heartlandhighlighting 19 organizations around the country who embody the spirit of improving seniors’ lives in rural America. See full article here.

Texas A&M: Healthcare Leadership Council Honors the Center for Population Health and Aging with 2019 Redefining American Healthcare Award

The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) honored the Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging with the Redefining American Healthcare Award on Aug. 13, 2019. The HLC created the Redefining American Healthcare Award to recognize best practices and programs in communities and organizations across the nation that optimize care for high-need patients. See full article here.

Center Receives National Healthcare Award

The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) honored the Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging with the Redefining American Healthcare Award on Aug. 13, 2019. See full article here.

Improving Care for Those Living with Dementia

With a mission to promote healthy aging and reduce preventable negative health consequences and costs, the Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging takes a life-course approach to improve the lives of Texans and others throughout the nation and world. The center’s research promotes the belief that healthy aging involves everyone, at every age, every day. In the past couple of years, the center’s faculty and staff have focused on an extremely vulnerable population: persons with dementia and their caregivers. 

With a variety of state and national funding sources, including the Texas Alzheimer’s Research and Care Consortium, the Administration for Community Living and the National Institute on Aging, the center is embarking on several interrelated research projects to better understand the need for and impact of various behavioral, technological, environmental or social service organizational interventions. See full article here.

Fall Prevention Interventions in Rural Areas

Associate Professor Dr. Matthew Smith discusses with our local CBS affiliate KBTX fall prevention interventions in rural areas from the Center for Population Health and Aging. Watch the video here. 

How technology could be a solution to caregiver shortage for seniors

As experts in aging and health, we focus on the factors that promote successful aging, enabling older adults to connect, create and contribute. In particular, we have been studying technology use in older adults, examining both positive and negative aspects of technology and challenging the myths surrounding older adults’ use and adoption of new technology. Our research posits that aging, technology and health issues will be inextricably linked in the future. See full article here.

Program Teaches Self-Management for Diabetes, Prediabetes

Diabetes self-care is a full-time commitment that often requires fundamental lifestyle changes. Health care providers strive to provide their patients with as much information as they can about managing diabetes during an office visit. However, there is rarely enough time during routine visits to cover all the important topics concerning diabetes. “Diabetes education is a lifelong process because diabetes is a lifelong disease, it causes changes to body systems over time,” said Wendy Creighton, RN, a health educator with Making Moves with Diabetes (MMWD), a diabetes education program of Texas A&M Healthy Texas  initially developed by the Coastal Bend Health Education Program. “Diabetes self-care requires daily attention to nutrition, exercise, blood sugar monitoring, medication compliance and stress reduction.” See full article here

Researchers Study Factors Affecting Functional Mobility and Fear of Falling Among Older Adults

Research suggests that fall-related efficacy (FE), a confidence in the ability to engage in activities without falling, may act as a mediating factor in the relationship between the fear of falling (FOF) and functional mobility. A new study in the American Journal of Health Behavior, by Dr. Aya Yoshikawa and Dr. Matthew Lee Smith of the Texas A&M School of Public Health, further examined the mediating effects of a new FE scale known as the Perceived Ability to Prevent and Manage Fall Risks (PAPMFR). They used data on older adults participating in a fall-prevention program, A Matter of Balance Volunteer Lay Leader Model (AMOB/VLL), which aims to reduce FOF and risk of falling through a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and physical exercise. See full article here

Improving Community Public Health and Well-being in South Texas

The Texas A&M School of Public Health The Texas A&M School of Public Health was selected as one of two finalists for the Harrison C. Spencer Award for Outstanding Community Service. The distinguished award is presented annually by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) to an ASPPH-member school or program that has demonstrated major institutional commitment to engage with their community to improve public health and well-being. See full article here

Texas A&M "Healthy South Texas" Make More Than One Million Contacts with Health Education

When Texas A&M’s Healthy South Texas launched in Sept. 2015, the innovative initiative had a single mission: to improve the lives of as many people in South Texas as possible. In just three years, Healthy South Texas made more than 1 million contacts with its programs. Community members, health care professionals, health care students and public officials have taken part in classes, workshops, events, health screenings, consultations and numerous other activities that instill the importance of healthy living for the prevention and management of chronic diseases.  See full article here

Texas A&M Research explores Factors Behind Medication Non-adherence in Older Adults

Medication nonadherence is a complex problem with many factors ranging from self-perceived health to depression to the cost-related factors such as medication prices. In two new studies, Texas A&M School of Public Health researchers and colleagues examined the effects a chronic disease self-management intervention has on medication nonadherence and how cost-related factors play a role in whether older adults adhere to their prescriptions. See full article here

U.S. News Analysis: The Opioid Crisis Is Here to Stay for Years

An examination of nearly two decades of drug overdose deaths shows that shifts in the year-to-year death toll, marked by relatively predictable peaks and valleys, mask the true magnitude of the opioid epidemic in America, which now appears mired in a deadly new normal for years to come. See full article here

Texas A&M Smith to Receive Mentorship Award from American Academy of Health Behavior

Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, of the Texas A&M School of Public Health, has been named the recipient of the 2019 Mentorship Award recipient from the American Academy of Health Behavior (AAHB). This award recognizes an Academy member who displays outstanding mentorship through time, knowledge and passion for the purposes of helping to develop future health behavior professionals and scientists. See full article here

Think teens need the sex talk? Older adults may need it even more

Drs. Healthier Honoré Goltz and Matthew Smith's research has explored sexuality among older adults experiencing healthy aging and also aging with health challenges. We found that older adults who routinely talk with health care providers about sexual matters are more likely to be sexually active, despite sexual dysfunctions or other health issues. These conversations become more important considering high HIV/AIDS and STI rates, even among older adults in the U.S.  See full article here

Training to Reverse Opioid Overdoses: Texas A&M first in nation to train all health sciences students on opioid overdose reversal

With more than 130 Americans dying each day from opioid overdose, the Texas A&M University Health Science Center is responding, advancing training and education in pain management and substance abuse in innovative ways. Texas A&M is the first health science center in the nation to commit to train every health professions student to administer a reversal agent to opioid overdose victims, and save lives.  See full article here. 

Texas A&M Researchers Examine Fall Prevention Programs for Rural Older Adults

In a new study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a research team led by Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, co-director of the Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging and associate professor in the environmental and occupational health department at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, analyzed data on fall prevention programs implemented across the United States between 2014 and 2017 with an eye on the levels of rurality of program location.  See full article here

Health delivered a million times over

When Texas A&M Healthy South Texas launched in September 2015, the innovative initiative had a single mission: to improve the lives of as many people in South Texas as possible. Today, significant strides are being made toward a vision of a healthy and vibrant community.

In just three years, Healthy South Texas made more than 1 million contacts with its programs. Community members, health care professionals, health care students and public officials have taken part in classes, workshops, events, health screenings, consultations and numerous other activities that instill the importance of healthy living for the prevention and management of chronic diseases.  See full article here

Most caregivers of people with dementia are family members, and they need help

Family care of an older adult has emerged as an essential element of the U.S. health care system, with 83 percent of long-term care provided to older adults coming from family members or other unpaid helpers. As the population of older adults grows, so too does the expectation of family care for persons living with dementia.  See full article here

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas Supports Launch of New Rural Health Project with Texas A&M University

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) and Texas A&M University Health Science Center announced a new project to support collaborative care and healthy communities that will target identifying and implementing solutions to health care challenges facing rural and underserved communities in Texas. BCBSTX’s commitment of $10 million to Texas A&M Health Science Center is part of the company’s Affordability Cures endeavor aimed at accelerating efforts to reduce health care costs and improve outcomes, including by addressing health disparities and social determinants of health.  See full article here.  

Texas A&M Ory recognized for Significant Contributions from APHA Aging & Public Health Section

Regents and Distinguished Professor Dr. Marcia G. Ory, of the Texas A&M School of Public Health, will receive a special 40th Anniversary Award recognizing sustained and significant contributions to the APHA Aging and Public Health Section. Among Dr. Ory’s contributions include serving as Section Chair and continuing to serve as the Rural and Environment Award Chair. She has also mentored numerous graduate students and junior faculty throughout her career, further advancing the public health and aging field.  See full article here

The New Normal: Get Active to Ensure Healthy Aging

A positive attitude is a primary key to healthy aging, and over the past decades, the overall meaning of aging has changed dramatically according to Dr. Marcia G. Ory, associate vice president for strategic partnerships and initiatives at the Texas A&M Health Science Center. Dr. Ory says keeping a positive outlook on aging will lead to a healthier and happier life.  See full article here

As life expectancies rise, so are expectations for healthy aging

Many of the interacting factors influencing healthy aging – one’s genetic makeup, cellular biology, lifestyle behaviors, personal perspectives about aging, social engagement, and environment – and realize the importance of viewing aging as the culmination of all these factors. Despite the accumulation of chronic diseases such as arthritis, dementia, heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, aging is not a “disease” but rather a lifelong process that occurs from birth to death. Social and behavioral determinants are often stronger predictors of premature death than one’s biology or health care.  See full article here

Healthy Texas

Healthy Texas encourages Texans to take personal responsibility for their own health to reduce the burden of costly, preventable diseases as well as preparing health care providers and others to be more responsive to the health needs of Texas residents. The initiative offers research-based programming focused on lifestyle behaviors, health and wellness as well as both public and professional education. These programs are designed to engage families, enhance education, promote behavior change and improve the quality of medical care and health outcomes.  See full article here

Screening, Panel Discussion Brings Local Awareness of Opioid Crisis

September is National Recovery Month, designed to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders. As the American people face the opioid crisis, the Texas A&M Health Science Center Opioid Task Force is calling attention to how Texans experience and address these issues.  See full article here

Before the fall: How oldsters can avoid one of old age's most dangerous events

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in four older adults will fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury deaths among older adults. The good news is that most falls are preventable, research has identified many modifiable risk factors for falls, and older adults can empower themselves to reduce their falls risks.  See full article here. 

Evidence-Based Practices to Reduce Falls and Fall-Related Injuries Among Older Adults

Four guest co-editors have come together to address issues related to falls from a multi-disciplinary perspective that reflects an appreciation of the clinical, community, and policy context in which falls occur. To embody this collective approach to fall prevention, encompassed within this research topic are 23 articles surrounding four interrelated topical areas: community-based interventions; clinical integration and intervention; special populations; and policy and systems.  See Ebook here

Point of View: Addressing the Opioid Epidemic in Rural Areas

Current national estimates are that there are 174 people dying from a drug overdose every day, according to the US Department of Agriculture. We know that Texas hasn't - yet - been hit as hard as other states, such as those in the Midwest, but with 191 rural counties, we can't afford to become complacent.  See full article here. 

Tackling the National Opioid Epidemic with a Comprehensive Strategy

Misuse of opioids has led to a crisis in our nation, with more than 42,000 deaths from overdoses in 2016. This is a 30 percent increase from the previous year, and it has actually lowered US life expectancy. The Opioid Task Force at Texas A&M University Health Science Center is combating this growing public health emergency with a dedicated team of scholars and practitioners.  See full article here. 

Point of View: Addressing the Opioid Epidemic in Rural Areas

We have long focused on rural health disparities. Rural areas have unique characteristics. Studies show that residents in rural areas tend to be older, poorer and sicker. They also often lack adequate access to health care. The opioid crisis has consistently found a foothold in these populations.  Thus, a goal is to strengthen rural communities’ health and to combat the opioid crisis.  See full article here. 

Texas A&M to Study New Transit Mode's Effects on Walking Habits

Regents and Distinguished Professor Dr. Marcia Ory, of the Texas A&M School of Public Health, will co-lead the research study with professor Dr. Chanam Lee, and associate professor Dr. Wei Li, of the Texas A&M College of Architecture. See full article here. 

Pre-existing conditions: The age group most vulnerable if coverage goes away

It’s important that health care needs for our aging population be viewed within a broader family and societal context. Additionally, it’s important to recognize that aging is a lifelong process. Health and well-being in the later years are largely determined by what are known as the social determinants of health, or factors within a society that influence a person’s health. These factors include such things as race, ethnicity, education, income, employment and even neighborhood environments.  See full article here.

Health at work: Addressing chronic disease in the workplace

Texas A&M and University of Georgia researchers conduct trial of workplace-tailored disease self-management program. See full article here. 

Ory named AVP of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives

Marcia G. Ory, PhD, MPH, Regents and Distinguished Professor at the School of Public Health, has been named associate vice president of strategic partnerships and initiatives for the Texas A&M University Health Science Center.  See full article here.    

Texercise Select: A program to promote healthy aging

A new study analyzed the effects of Texercise Select on healthy behaviors. See full article here

Cost-Effectiveness of a Community Exercise and Nutrition Program for Older Adults: Texercise Select

Published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, co-authored by Center for Population Health and Aging founding director, Dr. Marcia Ory. See full article here. 

Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging Opens, Formalizes Texas A&M Collaborations

Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) highlights Dr. Marcia Ory's groundbreaking work in healthy aging and the opening of her new Texas A&M Board of Regents Center for Population Health and Aging. See full article here.  

6 Ways to Age Well and Save Money Doing It

Marcia Ory, PhD, a regents and distinguished professor and associate dean of research at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, offered several tips on cost-saving measures a person can implement to age well, such as exercising outside of a gym, practicing portion control or joining a community garden, among others. Click here for full story.