Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research conducted a six-month research study at senior centers in North Portland and in Beaverton to answer questions about what motivates seniors to adopt behaviors that promote healthy aging.
The study at the Urban League's Multicultural Senior Center in Portland and the Elsie Stuhr Senior Center in Beaverton also has been investigating the most effective ways to provide seniors with health information and how seniors prefer to receive health information.
The Healthy Aging study was supported by a grant from Kaiser Permanente Northwest's Community Benefits program, which focuses on creating and sustaining community health initiatives and providing care to vulnerable populations.
The study involved developing partnerships with community organizations — including the Elsie Stuhr Senior Center, the Urban League and Multicultural Senior Center, Loaves and Fishes, Susana Maria Gurule Foundation and the Sankofaa Health Institute, a grassroots health promotion organization.
Researchers collected data about seniors and healthy aging issues through interviews with staff at the senior centers, informal observations of center events, field surveys, and focus groups with seniors.
To thank seniors at both centers for participating in the Healthy Aging study, the research center's staff arranged for lunch-time celebrations recently. The celebrations included health education activities and gifts to promote healthy aging that were culturally appropriate for each audience. More than 100 seniors attended the luncheons.
In Beaverton, two "promotoras" (community health workers) from the Gurule Foundation explained the new food pyramid guidelines and how to make healthy food choices. At the Urban League luncheon, the Sankofaa Health Institute, which partnered with research center in the study, performed a socio-drama called I'm grateful! in which the characters interacted with elders in the audience to find humor in the challenges of old age.