May plays host to a wide range of health-related observances, among them Older Americans Month! The Administration for Community Living is marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Older Americans Act with the theme Get Into the Act focusing on how older adults are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others. This year’s celebrations highlight the importance of community engagement as a tool for enhancing well-being for older adults.
NIDILRR research in aging looks at both the effect of aging on people with disabilities and those aging into disability. Aging-related disabilities include hearing loss, increased risk of stroke and diabetes, fall-related injuries, and cognitive decline and dementia. Individuals with physical, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities are living longer and, therefore, are experiencing these aging-related disabilities on top of their existing disabilities. Here’s a look at some of the current research projects working in these areas, as well as resources you can use right now as part of your Older Americans Month celebrations!
- The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Promoting Successful Aging for Individuals with Long-Term Physical Disabilities looks at the consequences of aging for people with post-polio syndrome, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy.
- Check out their factsheets on fall prevention, staying active, and staying engaged in your community.
- The Center for Research on Women with Disabilities has conducted a number of projects focusing on the health and community living needs of women with disabilities.
- Download their health promoting behaviors checklists to develop your own wellness plans.
- Cancer screening is an important issue for women as they age, but women with developmental disabilities have little or no knowledge about cervical and breast cancer screening according to a NIDILRR-funded study at the Lurie Institute at Brandeis University.
- Share the Women Be Healthy series of videos on the importance of these screenings.
- The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Interactive Exercise Technologies and Exercise Physiology for People with Disabilities (RecTech) focuses on technology and interventions to encourage physical activity for people with disabilities.
- Is your community center or health club accessible? Try the AIM-FREE tool to find out!
- The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Community Living focuses on interventions to keep people with disabilities living in the communities of their choosing.
- Can you get out and about and stay engaged in your community? Are there barriers getting in the way? The CHEC tool maps the accessibility of your community.
- The Medical University of South Carolina has conducted some of the longest studies of aging with spinal cord injury.
- Check out their webcasts and videos on various aspects of health, employment, and engagement when living with a spinal cord injury.
- The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technologies for Successful Aging (TechSAge) conducts research on everything from assistive technologies to robotics to support healthy aging and continued participation of people with disabilities.
- TechSAge’s Charley Kemp talks about his research in robotics for everything from therapy to home care in GA Tech’s Horizon’s magazine.
These are just a few examples of what the NIDILRR community is working on with regard to aging and community engagement. For more, check out abstracts from our collection on aging and community participation from grantees, as well as research from other sources. These and more are available through our document delivery service.