School of Rural Public Health Regents Professor receives national WellCare grant to help seniors manage disease, live healthier

June 19, 2012

(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — The Program on Healthy Aging at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health has been awarded $100,000 as the first recipient of the WellCare Health Plans, Inc. community granting program.

Regents Professor Marcia Ory, Ph.D., M.P.H., is the founding director of the program.

“There are over three million older adults in Texas, most of whom have at least one chronic disease,” Dr. Ory said. “Attention to evidenced-based, self-management programs is critical for helping seniors manage their diseases and live healthier lives.”

“We have already seen initial successes of this program with over 4,000 Texans, and we look forward to spreading this program across the entire state,” said Cindy Quinn of the Program on Healthy Aging.

The grant will be used to conduct outreach and engage approximately 400 adults in a series of Better Choices, Better Health™ workshops in the greater Houston area. These workshops will use evidence-based practice protocols based on Stanford University’s Chronic Disease and Diabetes Self-Management Program and will be facilitated by non-professional trained leaders, most of whom have a chronic condition themselves. They will be held in either community-based or clinical settings and target conditions such diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic pain, anxiety and other ongoing illness.

This project will be conducted in partnership with the Neighborhood Centers Inc., Houston YMCA, Catholic Charities, Gateway to Care, East Texas Health and Human Services Coalition, Harris County Area Agency on Aging, Houston-Galveston Area Agency on Aging, and Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services Texas Healthy Lifestyles Program.

“This is one of the first of several initiatives that are going to help us identify social, behavioral and environmental factors that impact health and illness in older populations,” said Pamme Taylor, WellCare’s vice president for advocacy and community-based programs. “By understanding these factors, we will be able to design multi-level intervention programs that will help individuals and families adopt healthier behaviors, prevent disease and postpone the onset of disability.”

For more information about the program and upcoming workshops, contact Quinn at quinn@srph.tamhsc.edu.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell