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Volume 18, No. 1
UAB Study Shows Technology Can Boost Feelings of Connection, Well Being in Older Adults
by Yolanda A. Heiberger, M.A.
For many older adults in independent and assisted living communities, the pervasive
sense that their world is no larger than the physical confines of the facility in
which they live can increase feelings of social isolation and loneliness — negatively
impacting quality of life. “Because most older adults in these communities can’t
usually travel long distances anymore — and friends and family become less accessible
— they tend to feel that their lives are very confined and limited,” explains UAB
Professor of Sociology Shelia Cotten, Ph.D. Dr. Cotten and her colleagues at UAB
are in the process of completing a five-year study, funded by a grant from the National
Institute on Aging, to evaluate the impact that the Internet and social networking
sites have on social relationships and quality of life among older adults living
in assisted and independent living communities. “Our study, which involved training
older adults to use computers and the Internet, is the largest of its kind to be
conducted in the U.S.,” says Dr. Cotten. A paper on the qualitative analysis of
the study results will be published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Applied
Gerontology. “Our preliminary qualitative data indicate that technology helped the
adults in our study overcome social and spatial barriers, increasing their sense
of connection to the world and leading to very positive impacts on quality of life.
In fact, this study is close to my heart because the impact we have seen on older
adults has been so significant.”
Teaching Seniors to Use Computers
and the Internet
As part of the study, Dr. Cotten and a team of UAB graduate students are training
close to 300 older adults to use computers and the Internet in 15 assisted living
communities located in the Deep South. The mean age of the study sample was 82 with
participants ranging in age to 102 years. Participants were randomly assigned to
one of three study arms: (1) a technology group, which received the computer training;
(2) an attention-control group, which participated in fun activities with the graduate
students but received no computer training; and (3) a true control group, which
only completed the pre- and post-surveys.
Dr. Cotten explains that the purpose of the second arm was to control for interaction
with the graduate students during computer training sessions. “We wanted to be sure
that the outcomes of the study were due to technology use — not because of interaction
with young, energetic graduate students.” The computer training group received 8
weeks of training that consisted of meeting twice a week for 1.5-hour sessions.
Optional office hours were available to study participants once each week. Dr. Cotten
and her team utilized a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection
methods consisting of field notes, focus group data, observations, computer usage
log data, and five surveys distributed to participants over the course of a year.
“We couldn’t assume any prior knowledge of computers on the part of the older adults,”
explains Dr. Cotten. “In training, we had to begin with the basics of turning the
computer on, logging in, and opening and closing programs. It was important to repeatedly
emphasize to participants that they weren’t going to damage anything on the computer.
Over time, they became much less intimidated,” she adds. As the training groups
became more competent with the computer, they moved on to using e-mail, searching
and evaluating information online, using social networking sites, and visiting sites
like YouTube and Google Street View. “Many of the participants were amazed to visit
their old homes and neighborhoods using Google Street View,” Dr. Cotten adds. Read more...
Monday, November 5, 2012
at The Club
Insight on Aging
Patricia Sawyer, PhD
UAB Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging
Richard Allman, MD
Ali Ahmed, MD, MPH
Karlene Ball, PhD
Marcas Bamman, PhD
Lori McMahon, PhD
John Mountz, MD, PhD
Patricia Sawyer, PhD
Kathryn Burgio, PhD
Gregg Gilbert, DDS
Gary Hunter, PhD
Melinda Lalor, PhD
Daniel Marson, JD, PhD
Karen Meneses, PhD
Michael Morrisey, PhD
Richard Shewchuk, PhD
Mark Swanson, OD
J. David Sweatt, PhD
Trygve Tollefsbol, DO, PhD
Molly Wasko, PhD
Dancing with the Silver Stars II Fundraising Event
The Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging hosted the second annual, “Dancing with the Silver Stars II” fundraising event
on Monday, November 7, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. at The Club. This community-wide salute
to seniors was attended by approximately 440 guests.
The event raised nearly $95,000 to support geriatric outcomes research and to fund
enhancement of the Alzheimer Family Program for caregivers, support for the Geriatric
Scholars Program, faculty training in geriatrics and emerging patient care needs.
Thanks to the Dancing with the Silver Stars II Committee, our Star Dancers, dance
professionals, sponsors and community supporters for making this event such a success!
The “Dancing with the Silver Stars III” event will be held on November 5, 2012 at
6:00 p.m. at The Club.
Call for UAB Students to Apply for Gerontology Scholarships
|The Gerontology Education Program is pleased to announce
that the UAB Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging will award scholarships of $2000 for aging-related research for the 2012-13
academic year. It is anticipated that four scholarships will be awarded.
|Graduate and undergraduate
students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham meeting the following requirements are eligible:
- Undergraduate students enrolled in
Honors programs (University or Departmental) or having a GPA of 3.5 or higher in
- Graduate students in good standing in their departments.
|The proposed research project should
examine an aspect of the aging process or a major biological, clinical, behavioral, social science, or health policy problem,
which jeopardizes the health and well-being of a significant segment of the elderly population.
|Applications are due June 8, 2012. For more information download the flyer (PDF). This program is made possible
by our community supporters.
Ali Ahmed, MD, MPH and Lori McMahon, PhD appointed as new Associate Directors of the UAB Center for
|Ali Ahmed, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology
and board-certified Geriatrician, has been named as an Associate Director of the Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging. In
this new leadership role, Dr. Ahmed will direct the Advanced Illness, Multi-Morbidity and Heart Failure
(AIM-HF) Research Program. He will foster interdisciplinary research and research training through the
AIM-HF Program among investigators from schools, departments, and divisions across campus.
|Dr. Ahmed obtained his medical degree from the University
of Dhaka in Bangladesh, and completed internal medicine training at St. John's Episcopal Hospital, Far
Rockaway, NY. After completing a three-year Geriatric Medicine clinical and research fellowship here
at UAB and obtaining an MPH from the UAB School of Public Health, Dr. Ahmed joined the faculty of the
Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care. Dr. Ahmed is an internationally recognized
expert on Geriatric Heart Failure.
|After obtaining an NIA-funded career development K23
award, Dr. Ahmed subsequently received two NHLBI-funded R01 awards to study geriatric heart failure
outcomes using propensity-matched studies. Dr. Ahmed served as the Founding Director of the Geriatric
Heart Failure clinics at both UAB and the Birmingham VA Medical Center. Dr. Ahmed has published more
than 150 peer-reviewed publications on the topic of geriatric heart failure. Many of these manuscripts
examine the impact of other chronic conditions on heart failure outcomes among older adults, making
Dr. Ahmed an ideal candidate to lead the Center's initiatives related to Advanced Illness and Multi-morbidity.
|Lori L. McMahon, PhD, Professor and Director of the
UAB Comprehensive Neuroscience Center and the Neuroscience Theme Graduate Program, has been named as
an Associate Director of the Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging. Dr. McMahon will direct the Neuroscience and Aging Program for
the Center. She will foster interdisciplinary research and research training through the Neuroscience
and Aging Program among investigators from schools, departments, and divisions across campus. Her other
UAB leadership roles will ensure the integration and synergy of Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging initiatives with the
Comprehensive Neuroscience Center and the Neuroscience Graduate Program.
|Dr. McMahon obtained her undergraduate degree in biology
and chemistry summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. After completing a PhD
in neuropharmacology at Saint Louis University and post-doctoral research training in the Department
of Neurobiology at Duke University, she joined the faculty of the UAB Department of Physiology and Biophysics.
She is PI or Co-PI on four NIH-funded R01 grants, including two from the National Institute on Aging
(NIA). Dr. McMahon's laboratory has several major research programs that have relevance to age-related
memory loss, Alzheimer's disease, and depression and memory loss associated with the loss of estrogen
in post-menopausal women.
|Dr. McMahon's educational activities resulted in her
selection for the 2008 UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 2011 UAB Graduate School
Outstanding Mentor Award. The excellence of her leadership skills resulted in her election as the President
of the Birmingham Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. She also serves as co-chair of the UAB Joint
Health Sciences Promotion and Tenure Committee Faculty Council.
|Drs. Ahmed and McMahon will also serve on the Center for
Aging Executive Committee. Other members of the Executive Committee include Richard Allman, MD, Director,
Karlene Ball, PhD, Associate Director for Social and Behavioral Science, Marcas Bamman, PhD, Associate
Director for Translational Research, and John Mountz, MD, PhD, Associate Director for Basic Biology
of Aging, and Patricia Sawyer, PhD, Assistant Director.
Conference on Healthy Aging and the Environment to be Held May 18, 2012
“Healthy Aging and the Environment: The Importance of Place” is the theme of the
Fifth Annual UAB/AARP Aging Policy Conference to be held on May 18, 2012. The lifetime
influences of environmental factors on a range of diseases and conditions from Alzheimer’s
to obesity and diabetes are increasingly being recognized. Where we live and what
we breathe, eat, and do matter. The conference will bring together leading national
experts and local stakeholders to explore environmental threats to healthy aging
and identify possible solutions that can be implemented in our communities. As always,
the focus of the conference is on policy.
Registration is available through the UAB Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging website.
Deep South Resource Center for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR)
RCMAR 2012 Annual Investigators Meeting, hosted by the Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging in Diverse Communities, University
of California, San Francisco, was held March 15-16, 2012. New developments in the area of health disparities
were discussed. Dr. Dr. Giyeon Kim (UA) of the Deep South RCMAR, presented an oral presentation, “The
Relation Between Body Mass Index and Self-Rated Mental Health Among Older Adults: Do Racial/Ethnic Differences
Exist.” Poster presentations from the Deep South RCMAR included: Dr. Stephanie Garrett (Morehouse School
of Medicine), "Cognitive Screening and Function Among Older African Americans and Whites;” Dr. Lonnie
Hannon (Tuskegee University), “Neighborhood Built Environments that Promote Health Equity among African
Americans Living in the South;” and Dr. Maria Pisu (UAB), “Breast Cancer Financial Challenges Among
|The Bi-Annual Advisory Committee Meeting of the Deep
South RCMAR will meet on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, April 19-20, 2012. The focus
of the meeting is to discuss Minority Aging Research in the Deep South: Progress and Opportunities Between
Partnering Institutions. RCMAR Advisors, steering committee members and scholars will be in attendance.
Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging Annual Meeting Scheduled for Friday, October 12, 2012
|The Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging Annual Meeting
will be held on Friday, October 12th in the Great Hall at
the Hill University Center on the UAB campus. The Annual Meeting provides an opportunity
for faculty and guests to hear a prominent scientist present a keynote address,
to listen to oral presentations of junior faculty pursing research in aging, and
to have informal interactions as they view poster research presentations. Faculty
awards for Outstanding Service and Teaching will be presented, and outstanding community
leaders will be recognized for their commitment to improving the health and well-being
of older adults and their family members. Three oral scientific presentations will
also be featured during the meeting.
Geriatric Education Center
|Following the success of the Interprofessional Geriatric
Education Conferences (iGEC) in 2010 and 2011, the UAB GEC hosted its third annual conference January
19 & 20, 2012 at the Hill University Center and was attended by 275+ healthcare professionals. This
was an increase in attendance of 38%. The 2012 iGEC schedule was organized around four conference tracks:
1) Complex Issues of Aging; 2) Communication Skills; 3) The Active Patient and Caregiver; and 4) Transitions
in Care to provide a versatile learning experience. Thirty-eight interactive workshops focusing on
the Care of the Complex Older Adult (COCOA) were offered. Sessions emphasized evidence-based teaching
techniques and clinical skills workshops that highlighted the COCOA content areas. The event was attended
by all levels of learners and included healthcare professionals from across the state as well as students
and trainees from UAB and other universities. The 2013 iGEC is scheduled for January 24th and 25th.
AgeWell.com is a consumer-friendly
online resource of information and advice dealing with issues facing today’s older
adults. The content is provided by expert gerontologists and geriatricians affiliated
with the Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging, written in a way that is easy for the lay population
to understand. AgeWell.com is a useful resource for aging adults, their
caregivers and family members, as well as clinicians and researchers. Recent articles
include interviews with:
CCHA Donor List (January 2011 - December 2011)
|Mr. and Mrs. Harold L. Abroms, Mrs. Colleen P. Adams,
Alabama Geriatric Specialists Inc., Alabama Nursing Home Association, Alabama Retired State Employee
Association Foundation, Alabama Retired State Employees Association, Alacare Home Health & Hospice,
Dr. and Mrs. C. Bruce Alexander, Dr. and Mrs. Richard M. Allman, American Geriatrics Society, Inc.,
Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Anderson, Ms. Carole Armistead, Dr. Natalie C. Baker and Dr. Timothy D. Baker,
Robert D. Barkley, Mr. and Mrs. John V. Barnacastle, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Barnes, Dr. Donna M. Bearden
and Mr. Randal E. Bearden, Dr. and Mrs. Neal R. Berte, Best Inspections, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. C. Adrian
Bewley, Mr. Tim Blanton, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, Mr. Eric V. Bodner, Mr. and Mrs.
Herman D. Bolden, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Ms. Linda Danner Brooke, Mr. and Mrs. Paul E. Brooks,
Mr. and Mrs. David B. Brouillette, Dr. Cynthia J. Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph E. Bulgarella, Mr. and
Mrs. Dennis M. Burns, Dr. Anne H. Bussian and Mr. James R. Bussian,
|Ms. Gloria G. Callaway, Ms. Lynn Campisi and Mr. Mark
A. McGarvey, Mr. and Mrs. Marcus S. Cassimus, Ms. Lydia C. Cheney and Mr. James D. Sokol, Claude Bennett
Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. Collat, Sr., Mrs. Liranda Coleman, The Community Foundation
of Greater Birmingham, Mr. and Mrs. Emanuel L. Constantine, Dr. Patricia S. Goode and Mr. Chris Culpepper,
Dr. Lisa M. Curtis and Dr. Anupam Agarwal, Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Daniel, Ms. Anne H. Daniels, Mr.
Charles H. Davis, Ms. Marylee Abele Dawson, Mr. and Mrs. Armand DeKeyser, Dominick Feld Hyde, P.C.,
Dr. Andrew S. Duxbury, Mr. and Mrs. Billy D. Eddleman, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas D. Eddleman, Mr. Charles
W. Edwards, Mr. and Mrs. Alan Z. Engel, Mr. and Mrs. Michael L. Eskridge, The EyeSight Foundation of
Alabama, Mr. and Mrs. Frank B. Falkenburg, Dr. Kellie L. Flood, Mr. French Forbes III, Ms. Channing
R. Ford, Dr. Pamela N. Fordham and Mr. C. G. Fordham, Ms. Beth Franklin, Mr. and Mrs. Sydney F. Frazier,
Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Edward M. Friend III, Ms. Ann Galbraith, Mr. Phil W. Gann, Dr. Lillian Gates and Mr.
William A. Gates, Mr. and Mrs. Wayne H. Gillis, Dr. Gerald L. Glandon and Ms. Roberta J. Shapiro, Dr.
and Mrs. Robert P. Glaze, Ms. Charlotte J. Goldberg, Mr. and Mrs. John B. Harper, The Rev. and Mrs.
John Harris Harper, Dr. and Mrs. Griffith R. Harsh III, The Hart Insurance Group, Inc., Mrs. Connie
Hartley, Dr. Clare I. Hays and Dr. William C. Hays, Mr. and Mrs. Jack G. Hays, Mr. Randy W. Hays, Dr.
Heather L. Herrington, The Hess Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Donald E. Hess, Mrs. Janet R. Hill, Ms. Eloise
P. Hogeland, Mr. and Mrs. John W. Hunt, Ms. Jan D. Hunter, Mrs. Rivalee A. Husid, Institute for Total
Eye Care, P.C., Ireland Trust Agency, The J. George and Willine Mitnick Foundation, Ms. Jeanne T. Jackson
and Mr. V. Markham Lester, Dr. Linda G. Jones, Dr. and Mrs. Robert E. Jones, Jr., The Joseph H. and
Reva Engel Foundation, Mrs. Margaret K. Kelly and Dr. Christopher L. Kelly, Dr. Debora F. Kimberlin,
Mr. John Nicholas Kohnen II, Ms. Kathryn L Lindquist, Dr. Julie L. Locher and Dr. Meredith L. Kilgore,
Mr. and Mrs. James H. Lott, Jr., Ms. Martha J. Loveland, Mrs. Suzanne Wehby Lucas, Dr. Linda C. Lucas
and Mr. Richard L. H. Stanford,
|Mr. and Mrs. N. Kenneth Madison, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. V.
Hugo Marx III, Mr. and Mrs. Gerson May, Dr. Charles A. McCallum, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. John J. McMahon,
Jr., Ms. Karen Messer, Mr. George N. Mickwee, Mr. Harold F. Miller, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. John R. Miller,
Mr. and Mrs. William F. Miller, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. William T. Mills III, Ms. Rebecca Mize, Ms. Jean B.
Morris, MPT Operating Partnership, L.P., Mr. and Mrs. John A. Nelson, Dr. and Mrs. Joseph E. Nicholson,
Mrs. Marjorie Kay Nix, Dr. Marian Northington and Mr. William H. Barnes, Jr., Ms. Elizabeth H. O'Neal,
Dr. Emily F. Omura, Mr. Jackson Wesley Parker, Dr. and Mrs. Edward E. Partridge, Mrs. Elise M. Penfield,
Mr. and Mrs. Douglas R. Perry, Mr. and Mrs. Philip G. Piggott, Mrs. Daphne B. Powell and Mr. Richard
W. Powell, Mr. E Phillip Powell, CPA, Mrs. Elizabeth E. Ratliff and Mr. William T. Ratliff, Jr., Mr.
and Mrs. Stephen D. Reeves, Ms. Phyllis P. Rickart, Dr. Christine S. Ritchie and Mr. Timothy S. Ritchie,
Dr. and Mrs. O. Gordon Robinson, Jr., The Ronne and Donald Hess Foundation, Mr. Joel R. Rotenstreich,
Royal Cup, Inc., Dr. Patricia L. Sawyer, Ms. Martine Sebbag, Ms. Jane B. Selfe, Dr. and Mrs. Allen E.
Shealy, Ms. Barbara W. Shepherd, Mrs. Catherine J. Shepherd, Dr. Kendra D. Sheppard, Dr. and Mrs. Alan
M. Siegal, Mr. and Mrs. Michael J. Slive, Dr. Cynthia Owsley Sloane and Dr. Michael E. Sloane, Mr. and
Mrs. Bruce H. Sokol, Mr. Sam P Sox, Jr., St. Martin's-In-The-Pines, Ms. Deborah K. Strauss, The Thomas
E. Jernigan Foundation, Ms. Paula A. Thompson, Dr. and Mrs. Douglas Carroll Tilt, Mrs. Jean Riley Tomlinson,
Triton Health Systems, L.L.C., The UAB Educational Foundation, The UAB Health System, The UNUS Foundation,
Mr. and Mrs. Jon E. Vice, Mr. Harry G. Vickers, The Honorable J. Scott Vowell and Dr. Cameron M. Vowell,
Dr. Virginia Wadley and Mr. Mark Wadley, Dr. and Mrs. Ray L. Watts, White Arnold & Dowd P.C., The White
Arnold & Dowd Charitable Foundation, Mrs. Doris D. White, Mr. Charles W. Wilkerson, Mr. and Mrs. Scott
Milton Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Walter W. Wilson, Dr. A. Lesa Woodby and Mr. Kenneth R. Woodby, Mr. and
Mrs. Robert D. Yarbro, Ms. Virginia G. Yates and Mr. Edward J. Hanz, Mr. and Mrs. Roger R. Yonker, Jr.
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