With more people living longer, we are approaching the tipping point at which our state, country, and world are impacted by the double whammy of lower birth rates and increased longevity in our senior population. Last year was the first time Minnesota’s population in the 65+ age group was larger than in the 5-17 age group. With the potential crisis of fewer caregivers for more people needing care and the rising impact of age-related diseases like dementia, heart disease, and cancer, many efforts are focused on quality of life—increasing healthspan, as much as lifespan. It is increasingly a focus of our health sciences research, training, and practice.
But not everyone has the privilege of joining that 65+ age group. Far less attention has been paid to another crisis, that BIPOC and rural populations have early death rates nearly twice that of their White urban counterparts. This was also reflected in the distribution of higher mortality rates in these populations from COVID-19. Although these are problems that have a number of root causes, lack of access to health care and lower quality of care have contributed to preventable health issues.
There are ways we can help Minnesotans age more healthily, and across the University, we are working to do just that, through outreach, research, and unique partnerships. For example, OACA partners with the Minnesota Northstar Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program to aid in the training of geriatrics team care, and the collaboration across the University to advance aging science. What are other age-related initiatives that bring together interprofessional expertise to revolutionize healthy futures?
The Community-University Health Care Center recently partnered with the local non-profit organization WellShare International to provide COVID vaccinations for Minneapolis community members. "As part of CUHCC's community-driven health care, this mobile vaccine clinic was an opportunity to engage with Hispanic communities, providing care to those with the highest needs while also limiting barriers to vaccination. This combined response by CUHCC and OACA's Mobile Health Initiative at the vaccine event allowed lots of time for outreach and vaccine education within the communities," said Opy Adesida, CUHCC's mobile health director. Additional vaccination clinics will be held throughout June.
Join the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing for a webinar on July 15 and explore why everyone deserves a health coach so they can experience ongoing and optimal levels of wellbeing. Every one of us has faced changes in our responsibilities, our routines, and our expectations. People have reported record high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. We know that lifestyle behaviors and social determinants of health play a larger role in our overall health and wellbeing than any medical intervention does. These difficult times have created an opportunity for reflection that has brought to light the desire for new, intentional life choices for many people.