University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Health Science Department
1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
Walk Safe, Walk Together: A pilot study to promote walkability and increase physical activity for older adults in the community.
a. What is the central question, issue, or problem you plan to explore in your proposed work? The question to be explored in this pilot study is: How can students in a program-planning course most effectively learn to assess and facilitate a safe physical activity program for older adults in the community?
b. Why is your central question, issue, or problem important to you and to others who might benefit from or build on your findings?
This is important to ensure that Health Science students taking the HSCI 4640: Program Planning and Implementation course are learning in an effective and applied method that ensures them skills and experience that can be readily applied upon graduation into the health field. Adults over 65 currently make up 10.9% of the population in Colorado, with another 19.3% of Coloradoans age 50-64 all headed toward their retirement years (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). This demographic is in need of effective community physical activity programs to prevent and minimize the effects of aging and/or chronic disease (Taylor et al., 2004). Rantakokko et al. (2010) found that when older adults experienced environmental barriers to exercise outdoors it was associated with a decreased quality of life and unmet need for physical activity. Walking is one of the most common forms of exercise for older adults, so it is imperative that the built environment supports safe walking opportunities and that older adults have the social support to sustain a regular walking program.
Students will greatly benefit from practical experience facilitating safe programs for older adults, as a substantial proportion of the population in need of health interventions going forward will be in this age demographic. Students also have the potential to benefit from positive intergenerational contact that has been shown in previous programs to improve students’ positive attitudes toward aging and older adults (Coppola et al., 2008)
This program is designed to be expanded to multiple community sites, including underserved and at-risk residential older adults, as well as retirement communities. The findings can be shared with other universities wishing to enhance student engagement and applied practice with established retirement communities and/or senior service organizations. This study will help our department develop and establish a service-learning program that provides students with multiple opportunities to create a meaningful impact on the local community.
c. How do you plan to conduct your investigation? What sources of evidence do you plan to examine? What methods might you employ to gather and make sense of this evidence?
This investigation will be conducted with students in the Fall 2011 HSCI 4640: Program Planning and Implementation course at UCCS. The students will work with the residents at The Palisades at Broadmoor Park (Palisades). Palisades is a retirement facility that hosts independent living, assisted living, and memory care residents. Palisades serves as an ideal location for a pilot program as it already has an established relationship with UCCS, a preexisting wellness program, IRB’s in place and access granted.
The students will conduct a needs assessment to determine the walkability of the community surrounding Palisades and the likelihood of the residents to walk in the neighborhood, through the Active Neighborhood Checklist (www.activeliving.org), the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale (Saelans & Sallis, 2002), and informal surveys/interviews with the residents. The results of these instruments will be analyzed by the students, who will then consider which enablers and/or barriers may be present for the residents. Once the results are determined, the students will implement an effective walking program for the residents based on the condition and perceived safety of the neighborhood. Students will also explore potential policy changes if deficits in the built environment are determined to be deterring physical activity among the residents. To evaluate student learning, students will keep a reflective journal throughout the semester, as well as participate in a focus group with the residents at the conclusion of the semester. The focus group will explore student learning, as well as the experience of the Palisades’ residents.
d. How might you make your work available to others in ways that facilitate scholarly critique and review, and that contribute to thought and practice beyond the local?
The results will be disseminated at Mountain Lion Research Day by students involved in the project, through submission of a scholarly publication, and presented to professionals working with older adults, both in the local community and beyond, possibly in a professional conference setting. On the local level, we would wish to continue the project with future students, potentially in a service learning capacity.
e.) Include a literature review of the theory and effective teaching practice of the subject of your inquiry in order to locate your research in the literature preceding it.
The human body benefits synergistically from physical activity and positive social contact with others. This is true at any age, but especially for older adults who are at heightened risk for chronic disease, falls, loss of mobility, loss of independence, and depression- as they age (Taylor, et al., 2004). Physical activity has been shown to improve all aspects of physical health, no matter how old an individual begins to incorporate exercise into their routine. Physical activity in older adults can protect cardiovascular health, strengthen posture, gait and balance, as well as improve bone density (Bean, Vora, & Frontera, 2004). Mental health goes hand in hand with physical health, and positive and frequent interactions, specifically intergenerationally, have been shown to be mutually rewarding and satisfying for young adults and older adults alike (Colston, Harper, & Mitchener-Colston, 1995; Hildebrand, 2010; Montoro-Rodriguez & Pinazo, 2005).
Active Neighborhood Checklist. (2006). Retrieved from: http://www.activeforlife.info/generations/Resources/Toolkits/Active%20Neighborhood%20Checklist.pdf
Bean, J.F., Vora, A. & Frontera, W.R. (2004). Benefits of exercise for community dwelling older adults. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 85, 31-42.
Brian E. Saelens, Ph.D., James F. Sallis, Ph.D. (2002). Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale. Retrieved from: http://www.activelivingresearch.org/node/10649
Colston, L., Harper, S., & Mitchener-Colston, W. (1995). Activities, Adaptation & Aging, 20(1), 79-90.
Coppola, J.F., Thomas, B.A., Forman, L., Heyman, J., Phipps, C., & Guishard, D. (2010). Empowering older adults for successful aging: Community partnerships with intergenerational gerontechnology. [PowerPoint Slides]. Retrieved from: http://www.empoweringnycommunities.org
Hildebrand, J. (2010). Competing at 65: The road to the senior games. (MS Thesis). University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
Montoro-Rodriguez, J. & Pinazo, S. (2005). Evaluating social integration and psychological outcomes for older adults enrolled at a university intergenerational program. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 3(3), 65-81.
Taylor, A.H., Cable, N.T., Faulkner, G., Hillsdon, M., Narici, M. & Van Der Bij, A.K. (2004). Physical activity and older adults: a review of health benefits and the effectiveness of interventions. Journal of Sports Sciences, 22, 703-725.
Rantakokko, M., Iwarsson, S., Kauppinen, M., Linemen, R., Heikkinen, E., & Rantanen, T. (2010). Quality of life and barriers in the urban outdoor environment in old age. Journal of American Geriatrics Society, 58(11), 2154-2159. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03143.x.
U.S. Census Bureau, (2010). http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/aff_transition.html
f. What is your record of innovation in teaching and/or the assessment of learning?
I have been involved with my mentor/coach, Dr. Kluge, on several research projects through which we have disseminated results (See CV). In April 2011, I attended the American Society on Aging (ASA) conference in San Francisco where Dr. Kluge and I presented the results of a project we were involved in using my thesis findings: Young and Old Together: Attitude Change through Intergenerational Sport Education (partially funded by an Innovations in Scholarship for Inclusive Excellence (ISIE) Dr. Kluge was awarded 1/2010-12/2012.
g. Are you able to attend the required meetings?
I am able to attend all required meetings if selected for this opportunity.
h. Please provide the name and email address for your coach/mentor. Are you willing to set each coach/mentor meeting twice each semester?
My coach/mentor will be Mary Ann Kluge and we are willing to set and attend all required meetings. email@example.com.
i. If your project is selected, are you willing to serve as a coach/mentor in PTLC in a future year? I would be happy to serve as a future mentor!