"I want all older adults to have a chance at an active, healthy, meaningful second stage in life."
A number of years ago, while making house calls as a nurse practitioner to homebound, low-income elderly patients in West Baltimore, Dr. Sarah Szanton noticed that their environmental challenges were often as pressing as their health challenges. Since then she has developed a program of research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing on the role of the environment and stressors in health disparities in older adults, particularly those trying to “age in place” or stay out of a nursing home. Through a Robert Wood Johnson funded grant, a National Institutes of Health grant and a cooperative agreement from the Innovations office at the Center on Medicaid and Medicare Services, she is examining whether a program which combines handyman services with nursing and occupational therapy can improve mobility, reduce stress hormones, and decrease health care costs. She is also conducting a study of the Nintendo Wii program with frail older adults to see whether it can decrease their fall risk. As a former health policy advocate, Dr. Szanton hopes the outcomes of her research and her growing body of publications in the literature can have a positive impact on future health policy affecting older adults.
Gerontology; aging in place; racial and socioeconomic health disparities.