HealthyADK Website is a Resource for Community Health Improvement Efforts
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites falls as the leading cause of injury-related deaths, hospitalizations and emergency department visits among adults 65 and older in the United States. According to data indicators available on a new website, HealthyADK.org, the percentage of individuals over the age of 65 averages 18.65% for a six-county North Country region, which is well over the New York State average of 14.4%.
The HealthyADK site is a resource to locate pertinent health and socio-economic data, key reports that describe the region’s current population health needs, and promising practices to improve regional health. The site serves Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren and Washington counties and is maintained by AHI in collaboration with community organizations and agencies.
“Our goal was to create a common understanding of community needs, priorities and assets to help advance the health and well-being of communities and residents across the North Country region,” said Tom Tallon, AHI PHIP and HealthyADK manager. “HealthyADK is a resource for connecting reliable data and evidence-based programs to community health improvement efforts.”
A community effort example includes Franklin County’s Growing Stronger program. Vanetta Conn, program director for Growing Stronger and Health and Well-Being Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, illustrated how collaborations across the North Country are focusing on lowering fall rates and improving the lives of older adults. The Growing Stronger program is an evidence-based strength training program developed by Tufts University for older adults. “To date, this has been the most satisfying program I’ve had the opportunity to run. Simply said, we see real impact on the lives of our Growing Stronger participants – so many positive changes,” said Ms. Conn.
Conn stated that the group enthusiastically made a recent decision to increase the number of meeting days from twice weekly to three times weekly. With an average attendance of 8 to 12 participants per session, she estimates that since the summer of 2013 nearly 150 people have been involved in her program and that in another county.
Research conducted by Tufts University shows that participation in the Growing Stronger program helps to:
- Build strength;
- Maintain bone density;
- Improve balance, coordination, and mobility;
- Reduce the risk of falling; and
- Maintain independence in performing activities of daily life.
According to the CDC, strength training has been shown to have a myriad of health benefits including improved sleep, increased mental well-being, relief from arthritis and back pain, and improved glycemic control. “Until you work with a population like this, you have no idea how fear robs people of their independence. Being able to lower participants’ fear of falling while providing a host of other positive physical outcomes is just a great feeling,” said Ms. Conn.
Family Nurse Practitioner, Joshua Craig of Alice Hyde Medical Practice, had high praise for the Growing Stronger program. “Life style modification makes a tremendous difference for the population at risk for falls. While I provide patients with basic counseling, programs like Growing Stronger can go into greater depth and teach safe exercises that can be done in a group or at home,” said Craig. “Strength building not only decreases the risk for falls, it lowers blood pressure and helps patients at risk for osteoporosis.”
Strength training and falls prevention programs may be making a difference. According to data indicators available at HealthyADK.org, 6.6% of the Medicare population age 65 or older in Franklin County has osteoporosis, which compares favorably to 7.8% for New York State.
How to Use the HealthyADK Website
HealthyADK.org’s user friendly design includes over a 120 health and socio-economic measures for exploring community health. Features include: data definitions and rationale for why the measure is important, multiple data views (graphs, trends and maps), ability to compare indicators across counties or find evidence-based programs for working on an issue.
“You can see at a glance if the indicator outcome is positive or negative,” said Tallon. Other HealthyADK resources include a Promising Practices Resources Library. “There are over 1,000 pertinent resources,” said Tallon.
Another way the HealthyADK site can be utilized is to support grant writing initiatives with report-ready data. The AHI PHIP team offers in-person, on-site demonstrations of the site’s capabilities and discusses how it can be best utilized to meet user goals. To arrange a demonstration, contact Tom Tallon at [email protected]. Site access and support is free of charge.
For More Information
- Visit HealthyADK to access up-to-date sources of health and socio-economic data, find key reports that describe the region’s current population health needs, learn about promising practices to improve people’s health, and connect to efforts in your community. Contact Tom Tallon at [email protected] to arrange an onsite demonstration.
- Visit the AHI North Country Population Health Improvement Program – PHIP website.
- Attend the next NC PHIP Stakeholder Meeting, Thursday, August 11, Peru, 10 am – noon.
Learn about the Growing Stronger Program:
- Malone area
Vanetta Conn, Family, Health and Well-being Educator
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County
Phone: (518) 483-7403, ext. 312
- Clinton County
Lee Vera, Program Coordinator
Eastern Adirondack Health Care Network
Phone: (518) 564-337
Growing Stronger Program of Tufts University: Strength Training for Older Adults.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County Website Feature Article: Growing Stronger Strength and Balance Program.
Group photos: Growing Stronger program participants, courtesy of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County.