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Rural Project Examples: Elderly population

Evidence-Based Examples

Fit & Strong!
Updated/reviewed August 2017
  • Need: Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition which often causes multiple related disabilities in older adults.
  • Intervention: An 8-week physical activity, behavior change, and falls prevention program geared to older adults with osteoarthritis.
  • Results: Participants gained confidence with increased exercise, lessened stiffness, improved joint pain and improved lower extremity strength and mobility.
Telepsychology-Service Delivery for Depressed Elderly Veterans
Added December 2016
  • Need: To treat depression in elderly veterans who are unable to seek mental health treatment due to distance or stigma.
  • Intervention: Telepsychology-Service Delivery for Depressed Elderly Veterans compared providing behavioral activation therapy via telehealth and face-to-face for those with major depressive disorder.
  • Results: A 2015 study and two 2016 studies show that providing treatment via telehealth to elderly veterans in South Carolina resulted in the same health outcomes, quality of life, satisfaction with care, and cost of healthcare as those receiving face-to-face treatment.

Effective Examples

LIFE - Living (well through) Intergenerational Fitness and Exercise
Updated/reviewed November 2017
  • Need: Rural-residing older adults in Iowa have inadequate access to physical activity specialists and/or exercise facilities, which limits their ability to remain sufficiently active.
  • Intervention: Iowa State University implemented an intergenerational “exergaming” program to encourage fun and safe physical fitness among rural older adults.
  • Results: Pilot studies showed that older adults demonstrated increases in strength, flexibility, activity levels, and confidence in their ability to be physically active. Younger adults experienced reduced ageism and increased knowledge and expectations of aging.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Livingston County Help For Seniors
Updated/reviewed August 2016
  • Need: Meeting the health needs of geriatric patients in rural Livingston County, New York.
  • Intervention: The Help for Seniors program was developed and using its “vodcasts,’ local EMTs were trained in geriatric screening methods and health needs treatment.
  • Results: In addition to developing a successful model for educating EMS personnel, the program screened over 1200 individuals and identified various risks among the geriatric population.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Community Health Coaches for Successful Care Transitions
Updated/reviewed September 2017
  • Need: To help older patients with chronic conditions learn to manage their illnesses and thereby reduce hospital readmissions in Oconee County, South Carolina.
  • Intervention: Community volunteers trained as health coaches mentor discharged patients with certain chronic conditions, to help them transition from home health care to self-care.
  • Results: Participants had improved health behaviors and reduced readmissions.
Reducing Hospitalizations in Medicare Beneficiaries
Added June 2017
  • Need: To reduce hospital readmissions for Medicare patients in rural Kentucky and Tennessee.
  • Intervention: Two quality improvement tools called IMPACT and INTERACT helped older patients transition from Vanderbilt University Medical Center to a skilled nursing facility.
  • Results: Practitioner follow-up visits have increased, while emergency department visits have decreased.
Northland PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly)
Updated/reviewed January 2017
  • Need: Older adults who are nursing home eligible need assistance in order to remain living safely and independently in their own homes.
  • Intervention: Northland PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) offers, plans, and coordinates a wide range of healthcare, in-home, and day center services to promote independence at home.
  • Results: Older adults remain safely in their homes for a longer period of time with this support. The PACE program sites in North Dakota work to preserve, enhance, and, in many cases, restore the independence, health, and well-being of their participants.
Patient Care Connect
Added September 2016
  • Need: Cancer patients living in the Deep South encounter multiple barriers in accessing regular cancer treatment.
  • Intervention: The University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center developed a program that uses patient navigators to support and direct patients to appropriate resources to overcome barriers to accessing care.
  • Results: The program has become a model for improving cancer care quality, decreasing unnecessary utilization (ER visits and hospitalizations), removing barriers to care, and enhancing patient satisfaction.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy SD eResidential Facilities Healthcare Services Access Project
Added October 2015
  • Need: To provide health services for rural, elderly populations in long-term care who are inaccessible due to their location within four Midwest states.
  • Intervention: Implemented telemedicine services to reach patients at their respective sites.
  • Results: The program resulted in 362 provider-determined avoidable transfers and hundreds of telehealth encounters that ultimately kept patients in the comfort and care of their primary care providers.

Other Project Examples

SASH® (Support and Services at Home)
Updated/reviewed November 2017
  • Need: In Vermont, the growing population of older adults, coupled with a lack of a decentralized, home-based system of care management, posed significant challenges for those who wanted to remain living independently at home.
  • Intervention: SASH® (Support and Services at Home), based in affordable housing communities throughout the state, works with community partners to help older adults and people with disabilities receive the care they need so they can continue living safely at home.
  • Results: Compared to their non-SASH peers, SASH participants report better health outcomes like fewer falls, lower rates of hospitalizations, and completion of more advance directives – all of which has the potential of saving millions of dollars.