Rural Outreach in Gerontology Through Extension

As one of 46 GECs in the country, the Texas Consortium of Geriatric Education Centers (TCGEC), established in October 1985, is comprised of nine leading academic institutions. The Texas A&M System is represented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service on the TCGEC Advisory Board. The board collaborates to advance the development of health professionals’ capabilities to improve the lives of older Texans through better programs, service delivery activities, and resources in the field of aging.

Healthcare needs of older adults are very unique. Currently, Texas does not have an adequate number of health professionals trained to deal with these unique health needs. Almost 30% of people 65 or older live in Texas’ 196 rural counties, 90% of which have been designated as medically underserved areas (MUA). Fifty-six counties have no hospital. Furthermore, 153 counties are designated as health professional shortage areas (HPSA)—81 of these HPSA counties are in the TCGEC service area.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service provides a link between research and its practical application in the lives of Texas’ citizens. Collaboration with the TCGEC represents an important step for Extension in reaching professionals serving rural and elderly populations. In particular, the Rural Outreach in Gerontology Through Extension program includes implementing elder care professional development conferences in rural areas, planning for elder care options in rural areas and improving rural elder self-care education.

Two areas of focus in the Rural Outreach in Gerontology Through Extension program have been Eldercare conferences and development of Fall Prevention resources.

  • Eldercare Conferences – Six eldercare conferences, for which Extension provided primary coordination or speaker support, were held in locations throughout Texas from September 2002 through July 2003, with 1,505 participants. Locations included Bryan, Houston, Kerrville, Waco, Wichita Falls and Victoria. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) were provided at some conferences to nurses, activity directors, nurse aides and medication aides. All of these conferences were one-day events, some with concurrent sessions offered. Participants reported learning new information and skills related to eldercare during these conferences.
  • Fall Prevention – The Fall Prevention in the Home programs includes an Extension-produced video in English and Spanish, PowerPoint Presentations and a home assessment tool. This video features elders in their home in six high-risk situations and demonstrates safe and effective ways to make slight modifications to the home environment or behavior to reduce the risk of falling. In 2000, Fall Prevention in the Home had been used with over 480 older adults, with 50% of those participants planning to make environmental changes to reduce their risk of falling. Follow-up surveys indicated that 30% of planned changes are made. In addition to videos and materials in print, a website has been established. Click here to visit the Fall Prevention website.

For more information about the TCGEC and its statewide program, please visit their website.

 

Last updated: July 2, 2015

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