The Barbara and Richard Csomay Center for Gerontological Excellence, an interprofessional center housed in the UI College of Nursing, is leading the way to support and improve the care of older adults throughout Iowa. Its mission is to promote optimal aging and quality of life in all older adults and their caregivers. This includes the prevention of injuries and violence such as falls and elder abuse.
The Csomay Center’s longstanding commitment to older adults includes both the generation of new knowledge through research and the translation and implementation of knowledge into practice to improve care and treatment. The Center advances gerontological/geriatric research and care for older adults by providing pilot project funding to faculty and students, through the support of educational initiatives throughout the state in partnership with the Iowa Geriatric Education Center, Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program, and housing Geriatricpain.org – a site dedicated to providing quality resources to clinicians, older adults, and their family caregivers.
Center Director Harleah Buck said, “All activities are moving toward our vision that every older adult receives the care they want, when they want.”
Here is more about how the Csomay Center addresses injuries and violence among older Iowans, what puts older Iowans in rural communities at risk, and what resources older adults and family caregivers can go to for help.
How does the Csomay Center address injuries among older adults?
Falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older adults (age 65+). Three million older adults are treated in the emergency department for fall-related injuries every year in the United States. The Csomay Center works to address this public health problem by supporting researchers and clinicians who are identifying and implementing interventions to prevent falls. It also provides evidence-based pain management information through GeriatricPain.org to enhance medication adherence and offer non-drug interventions to prevent further injury.
How does the Csomay Center address violence among older adults?
The Csomay Center addresses violence among older adults through advocacy, education, and engagement with leaders and stakeholders. In 2022, the Center supported the Iowa Elder Abuse Criminal Bill that sets criminal charges for abusing, assaulting, or financially exploiting older adults in Iowa.
Csomay Center Leadership Team members are representatives on committees and task forces across the state, weighing in on legislation around topics such as guardianship and conservatorship. Leadership Team members like Leonard Sandler, Clinical Professor in the UI College of Law, work with students to offer legal clinics for older adults focused on estate planning, guardianship, and disability rights. Across these activities, the emphasis is to protect older adults from all types of abuse and violence.
What are the injury/violence prevention challenges of older adults living in rural areas?
Access to care and social isolation are linked to the injury and violence prevention challenges of older adults living in rural areas. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowa has seen an 11% decrease in the aging services provider workforce as well as a 15% increase in costs. Since 2022, at least 23 nursing homes have closed across the state, leaving fewer care options for older adults. At the same time Iowa, a primarily rural state, is becoming increasingly older: The population of people aged 65 and older in Iowa is projected to grow by 155,902 people by 2050.
The size of our aging services workforce is not able to keep up with the demand, and older adults are being left without access to services. With fewer options for care, older adults are staying in their homes longer, increasing their risk of injury and violence. Loneliness, social isolation, and living alone result in an increased risk of falls in older adults as well as abuse. These challenges are exacerbated in rural areas where access to care and supportive services is even more limited.
Why is research important to the work of your Center?
Research is central to our work as it ultimately transforms practice to improve care and treatment. We advance gerontological/geriatric research and care for older adults by providing pilot project funding to faculty and students and offering networking space to foster interprofessional research collaborations. Results are then disseminated through our website, GeriatricPain.org, and into curriculum and classrooms. Research conducted by members of our Center is shaping the practice of future clinicians and direct care workers.
One of the Center’s programs, the Csomay Community of Scholars, provides research mentoring and increases networking opportunities for the development of new teams for grant, paper, and professional presentation submissions.
What are some resources that can help older adults stay healthy and free of injuries?
Fortunately, there are some resources available across the state. They include:
- GeriatricPain.org: Access to free, evidence-based resources and tools for quality pain care for older adults
- Livwell Seniors: Offers free referral and placement services to identify the best living situation for older adults
- Iowa City Senior Center: A community center offering programs, services, and facilities geared toward older adults. Find your local senior center here.
- Heritage Area Agency on Aging: A non-profit organization providing innovative services and access to local resources that improve the quality of life for older adults, adults with disabilities and family caregivers. Find your local Agency on Aging here.
- Local libraries and recreation centers often have programming and resources for older adults.
Published May 8, 2023