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Background: Aging is associated with numerous risk factors for declining physical and mental health. As a result, many elder individuals are forced to relocate to nursing homes, assisted living centers or just closer to adequate medical facilities. Studies have shown: • Relocation of elders is associated with depression, anxiety, memory loss, and decreased social adjustment and life satisfaction • Persistently lonely people exhibit a 2-fold greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) than those who are not chronically lonely • Increased social interaction improves cognitive function in individuals with AD By helping seniors to age in place, many of the deleterious risks of relocation, such as social isolation, depression, and cognitive decline could be avoided. In addition to relocation, other risk factors that affect cognition have been identified: • Physical activity is associated with higher cognitive functioning in elders • Polypharmacy is a risk factor for impaired cognition Thus, simple modifications that allow seniors to age in place may reduce morbidity and enhance quality of life. Cathedral Square Corporation (CSC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop, manage, and own housing that provides community services to promote the health and well-being of elders, low income persons, and persons with disabilities. Students from the University of Vermont College of Medicine (UVM) partnered with CSC in a project to promote aging in place via evaluation of seniors’ current needs and the development of a service model to meet these needs at home.


Patricia Berry, MPH, University of Vermont College of Medicine

Tom Delaney, PhD, University of Vermont College of Medicine

Jennifer Hunter, Cathedral Square Corporation

Kim Fitzgerald, Cathedral Square Corporation


Cathedral Square Corporation


Access to Health Services, Educational and Community-Based Programs, Public Health Infrastructure


Presented at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting and Expo, Philadelphia, PA; November 8, 2009 as "Seniors Aging Safely at Home: Identifying Risk Factors of Seniors Living Independently," by Rachel Bell, Francois H. Coutu, Robert C. Johnson, Brendan Kelley, Shailen Mhapsekar, Jane Roberts, Healther Viani, Kim Fitzgerald, Jennifer Hunter, Thomas V. Delaney, PhD, Patricia Berry, MPH and Jan K. Carney, MD MPH.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

Health and Housing in an Aging Population: Identifying Risk Factors of Seniors Living Independently