Upper Shore Aging (USA) was recently awarded a 2023 Thome Aging Well grant to support the expansion of its diabetes education program for seniors. The goal of the grant project is to use the more than 84,000 Meals on Wheels meals delivered annually through USA as a vehicle for diabetes/health screening and education, social connection, and engagement in Senior Center services.
The Thome Aging Well program is a four-year, $19 million initiative from Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) to help older adults living in affordable communities age safely and securely at home. Funded by the Edward N. and Della L. Thome Memorial Foundation, Bank of America trustee, the program awarded $6 million in grants this year to scale aging-in-place initiatives with a track record of success by 22 nonprofits in Maryland and Michigan.
According to Andy Hollis, Executive Director of USA, diabetes is a major concern for the population served by his agency. Rural residents have higher diabetes rates and higher obesity rates – the leading cause of diabetes – than their urban counterparts. Diabetes disproportionately affects racial/ethnic minorities, those with less education, and those with lower incomes. USA focuses its services on the elderly and economically disadvantaged, and more than 1/3 of its participants are minorities.
“This grant will help us re-engage with seniors who did not return to Senior Center services post-COVID. Our planned activity is to launch the National Diabetes Prevention Program and use that screening and outreach as a catalyst for engaging and re-engaging seniors in the available Senior Centers offered through Upper Shore Aging. This becomes cyclical because engaging seniors in the Senior Centers engages them with all the services, including assistance with insurance which then become sustainable to deliver the National Diabetes Prevention Program screening and follow up for better health outcomes,” explains Hollis.
“By re-engaging seniors in the Senior Centers, we can include them in future planning of services to meet the needs of the changing population, continuing the cyclical nature that this grant project affords.”
“The Upper Shore Aging Board is grateful to the Thome Foundation for recognizing the need for this outreach and educational opportunity and for allowing Upper Shore Aging to address these needs in our rural communities,” comments Kay Brodie, Board President, Upper Shore Aging.
In total, the 2023 Thome Aging Well grants will provide essential support to over 6,000 older adults to help enhance well-being, reduce isolation, and allow them to age with dignity in their homes. Best practices learned from the grantees will be shared across the field of affordable and public housing providers serving older adults.
“There is a deep need for continued support of organizations that serve the growing population of older adults who want to age in their homes and communities,” said Stephany De Scisciolo, VP, of Impact, Evaluation, and Population Health at Enterprise. “For this round of grants, we built on our previous success and extended the grant opportunity to any organization providing home-based services, including those who help older adults modify their homes to make it easier for them to continue to age in place.”
Caption: Pictured are local seniors participating in cooking classes at Upper Shore Aging (USA) conducted by Chesapeake Culinary Center. In the coming months, USA will use Meals on Wheels meals as a vehicle for diabetes/health screening and education, social connection, and engagement in Senior Center services across the Mid-Shore.