December 13, 1999
The award criteria require the research to "make a substantive contribution to knowledge and understanding of the senior center field and stimulate questions for further research in the field." Areas of specific interest to the National Institute of Senior Center includes the role of senior centers in community-based long-term care, the role and function of the senior center of the future and health promotion, wellness, and prevention models.
The Northshore Center is one of nine senior centers operating the umbrella of Senior Services, a non-profit agency whose mission is to support the independence of seniors throughout King County. It is now widely recognized that people throughout the world are living longer--life expectancy in industrialized nations has increased from 46 in 1900 to 77 in 1998. Research is now strongly suggesting that the key to preserving health and vitality lies not in learning how people stay young, but in understanding how they age well.
The Senior Wellness Project, with its components of Lifetime Fitness, Self-Management of Chronic Conditions and The Health-Enhancement Program, including health mentoring, has demonstrated great effectiveness in helping seniors enjoy a richer quality of life into their 80s, 90s, and beyond. Participants can develop increased strength, flexibility, and stamina, they can participate in higher levels of physical activity, and they function more easily in the activities of everyday living. Frail older adults, including those with chronic health conditions, showed a 72% reduction in hospital days in one of the studies.
The N.I.S.C. also considers whether a research project is easily replicable. The Senior Wellness Project is now operating at 31 sites in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties in Washington, and at two senior centers in the state of Virginia. A grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is also facilitating the extension of the Project to seniors in public housing in Burien and South Seattle.
Susan Snyder, Director of the Senior Wellness Project, will accept the award at the annual National Council on Aging Conference in Washington, D.C. on March 31, 2000.