ADAPTING AGING PROGRAM for Hawai`i’s multicultural society earns Hawai`i Healthy Aging Partnership national award

The Hawai`i Healthy Aging Partnership (HHAP) has received the 2013 Multicultural Aging award from the American Society on Aging, achieving national recognition for the partnership’s critical role in improving the health of our states multiethnic elderly population.

HHAP is a statewide coalition that includes representatives of the University of Hawai`i, the Executive Office on Aging, the Hawai`i State Department of Health, all four Area Agencies on Aging, service providers, Federally Qualified Health Centers, local health insurers and others. Serving as evaluators for HHAP are Dr. Kathryn L. Braun, Professor of Public Health with the John A. Burns School of Medicine, and Michiyo Tomioka, doctoral student at the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work.

Since forming in 2003, HHAP has been successful in adapting two evidence-based health promotion programs to our multicultural population in Hawai`i. These programs are “EnhanceFitness” (an exercise program for seniors) and the “Chronic Disease Self Management Program” (CDSMP).

HHAP has worked hard to make sure that these two national programs attract elders from diverse ethnic groups and are culturally sensitive. Since 2007, 2,267 older adults have participated, 447 in “EnhanceFitness” and 1,820 in CDSMP. Of the participants, 25% were Native Hawaiian, 25% were Japanese-American, 27% were Filipino-American, and 27% were Caucasian.

“Participants were very satisfied with their respective programs, according to our evaluation data,” said Dr. Braun. She said the data suggest that “EnhanceFitness” participants significantly improve their upper body strength, lower body strength, balance and stamina. CDSMP participants realized significant increases in the ability to cope with their symptoms, spend time exercising each week and learn how to effectively communicate with physicians. They also reported significant reductions in health distress, less limitation on their activity and fewer physician visits.

Since 2003, the partnership has secured close to $1 million in federal and foundation funding to support these “healthy aging” programs. Our state and county governments also have provided financial support for this important effort.

“Hawai`i has one of the longest life expectancies in the country. So it is extremely important for us to keep our elders healthy and functioning for as long as possible,” said Dr. Braun. “HHAP goes a long way in helping Hawai`i meet this goal.”

Our photograph features Dr. Kathryn Braun, JABSOM Professor of Public Health and Michiyo Tomioka, doctoral student at the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work.

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