An Overview of Programs and Initiatives Sponsored by DHHS to Promote Healthy Aging: A Background Paper for the Blueprint on Aging for the 21st Century Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Meeting. TOPIC AREA III: EFFECTIVE HEALTH PROMOTION AND DISEASE PREVENTION PROGRAMS FOR OLDER PERSONS


A broad range of health promotion and disease prevention activities have been shown to be effective in helping to maintain function and reduce the risk of disease for older adults, whether or not they have chronic health conditions. This topic area describes current health promotion and disease prevention activities aimed at older adults. Federal health promotion and disease prevention programs for older Americans have largely focused on increased physical activity, improved nutrition, early screening for chronic conditions, vaccination programs (primarily for pneumonia and influenza), and injury prevention, specifically dealing with injuries related to falls. Research and program evaluation activities also have been initiated in areas including health risk assessments and screenings, nutrition screening and educational services, physical fitness, home injury control services, stress management, and follow-up use of health services.

This section provides a description of a range of federally funded health promotion and disease prevention activities aimed at older persons during the past 10 years. Table C provides a listing of these programs and their principal sponsors. See Appendix C for specific information on each program.

TABLE C. Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Programs and Sponsors
Programs/Initiatives Primary Sponsors
Older Americans Act Nutrition Programs' Elderly Nutrition Program AoA
Older Americans Act Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Services Program AoA
Initiative to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health All of DHHS; however, AoA is the lead agency focused specifically on older persons
Health Care and Aging Studies Branch Mini-Grants Program AoA in collaboration with the Association of State and Territorial Chronic Disease Program Directors, the National Association of State Units on Aging, and the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Health Care and Aging Studies Branch
WISEWOMAN: Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation Demonstration for Women Across the Nation CDC, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity
Creativity in Aging AoA, in partnership with a consortium developed to focus on Creativity in Aging, including the National Institute of Mental Health, SAMHSA, National Endowment for the Arts, AARP, and the Guttman Foundation

A review of these programs raises a number of questions for discussion at the TAG meeting, including the following:

  • Are health promotion and disease prevention programs reaching all settings where older Americans live?

  • Does the coordination of health promotion and disease prevention programs need to be enhanced? If so, through what mechanism (e.g., better interagency coordination, increased information sharing, dissemination and/or public awareness, etc.)?

  • How effectively do DHHS' health promotion and disease prevention programs incorporate trends and new data (e.g., active aging paradigm, declining rates of disability, increasing rates of obesity, new and often conflicting data on diets, etc.)?

  • How effective are federal activities in assisting, supporting, and supplementing state and local public health activities, and where can future efforts be best targeted to fill resource or information gaps?

  • How can DHHS encourage health care and human service programs to emphasize health promotion and disease prevention?

  • Are additional research, data, and evaluation activities needed in this area, and if so, why?

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