LARAMIE– The Wyoming Center on Aging (WyCOA), located at the University of Wyoming, recently received a $3.75 million grant that will strengthen and enhance partnerships to help address the needs of Wyoming’s aging population and practicing health professionals.
The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded the funds through its Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP). This is the second award of this type for WyCOA.
The purpose of the Wyoming GWEP (WyGWEP) is to collaborate with partner organizations to improve the health and well-being of Wyoming’s older adults by developing a workforce that embraces age-friendly health care, better population health and more cost-effective health care.
“This will be accomplished by maximizing patient and family engagement in the care of older adults and by integrating age-friendly practices into primary care,” says Christine McKibbin, WyCOA director and UW psychology professor.
The Wyoming Department of Health Aging Division predicts that — from 2016 to 2030 — the number of Wyoming residents aged 65 or older is expected to grow from approximately 90,000 to 138,000, a 56 percent increase. Wyoming’s entire population is expected to increase by less than 12 percent during that time, which means the majority of growth will come from the senior citizen population.
“The University of Wyoming has expressed a commitment to respond to the challenges of this rapidly aging population,” McKibbin says. “Our age-friendly programs will take a comprehensive approach to providing health care to Wyoming’s aging population.”
The goals of the program include:
- Implementing training to increase rates of advance care planning and chronic care management.
- Training health care providers to assess and address the needs of older adults.
- Enhancing the skills of older adults and caregivers to manage chronic disease and dementia.
- Building partnerships with community-based organizations to address gaps in health care communities while also addressing social determinants of health.
“It is said that Wyoming is one big town with really long streets, and it will be the partnerships we build within communities that will help our aging population the most,” McKibbin says.
WyGWEP key partners include the Wyoming Department of Health Aging Division, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Ivinson Medical Group and Eastern Shoshone Tribal Health.
To learn more about the WyGWEP partnership and the work of UW’s WyCOA, visit www.uwyo.edu/wycoa.