Senior Wellness Program Improves Health and Functionality

    • February 19, 2005

From July 2001 to the end of 2003, staff at Senior Services of Seattle/King County established a community wellness intervention called the Health Enhancement Program.

It operated in five widely dispersed organizations (in Carmichael, Calif., Portage, Mich., Chicago, Portland, Maine, and Albany, N.Y.) with diverse practice settings and senior participants. Senior services also contracted out the evaluation of the program dissemination.

Used in the Seattle area since the late 1990s, the program is designed to promote the health and functioning of older adults who are at risk for functional decline and who reside in the community.

After analyzing data collected from study participants at baseline (1,021 seniors), six months (669 seniors) and 12 months (410 seniors), an evaluation team from the University of Washington Health Promotion Resource Center found the following:

  • In the first six months after enrollment, the percentage of participating seniors with depressed mood (29.6%) and the percentage with physical inactivity (45.7%) decreased significantly (to 21.7% and to 27.9%, respectively). This pattern of decrease continued from six to 12 months.
  • At six months, when compared with baseline figures, 82% of participating seniors reported that their health was the same or better than a year previously (an improvement from 66% at baseline). Almost three-quarters (72%) rated their health as good or better, a significant increase from 67 percent at baseline.

Key Results

  • Project staff provided training and technical support to help the five organizations set up the Health Enhancement Program.

  • It enrolled a total of 1,021 seniors in the program. Of that number, 669 completed six months of the program and 410 completed 12 months.

  • Staff collected data on the 1,021 participants at 12 settings in five localities, and complete data on 115 participants at the end of the 12-month follow-up.