By 2030, 25% of Georgians will be over the age of 60 and the impact on these adults, their families, our institutions and the local economy will be significant.
This rapid growth of the older adult population is fueled by the baby boomer generation, the migration of older adults to the south, and longer life spans.
And, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, almost 70 % of all older adults will need long-term care at some point in their lives.
As older adults live longer, they are experiencing a greater number of health issues across a longer time horizon. Those living below the poverty level face even greater challenges. They suffer disproportionately from chronic diseases and conditions, disabilities brought on by lack of exercise, falls and other injuries, memory loss and, often, a lack of emotional support that can lead to depression. Wesley Woods is working to get ahead of this problem for the more than 1,500 older adults living in our nine residential communities, and most particularly for the many residents who are living below the poverty line or who have outlived their financial resources.
Our purpose is to help older adults live independently for as long as possible with a high quality of life, delaying or eliminating the need for assisted living or skilled nursing care. We provide them safe, affordable housing, resident-centered quality care and support services that include an outcomes-based Wellness Program that will improve or stabilize their health.
Two communities, Branan Towers and Asbury Harris Epworth Towers, are HUD facilities that serve a predominantly African American population, 70% of whom have incomes below the poverty level. They, and many others, often rely on supplementary support from Wesley Woods in order to remain in their apartments as long as possible. With skilled nursing care averaging $80,000 or more per year, helping an older adult remain in independent living, where care is less expensive, generates a significant personal savings for those with limited insurance coverage and reduces the potential load and additional stress on family, community or public assistance.
In order to promote better health outcomes for our residents, Wesley Woods is creating a new, outcomes-based Wellness Program that will support measurable improvements in residents’ health and in their ability to continue to live independently with a high quality of life. The Wellness Program is aimed specifically at preventing falls and accidents due to lack of mobility and managing chronic disease, including diabetes and hypertension, through regular, age appropriate physical exercise programs and coaching in better nutrition.
Beginning summer 2015, Wesley Woods will provide an evidence-based physical fitness program and a nutrition class series system-wide. The physical fitness program, taught by instructors trained to work with older adults, is an adaptation of a nationally recognized, evidence-based fitness program for older adults that has proven to help them better manage their health. A nationwide study of the program showed improved health for diabetics, improved body weight, increased use of preventive care and fewer hospital admissions.
The nutrition class series, taught by certified nutritionists, will cover diet, healthy eating, sugar and sodium intake, food safety, and how healthy eating relates to good health outcomes. The objectives will be to increase knowledge and promote changes in behavior leading to lower blood pressure and weight.