OHSU'S Healthy Aging Project Seeks Additional Participants

01/18/01    GRESHAM, Ore.

Gresham Couple Praises Benefits of Health Program

Don Eads, 69, knew something was wrong when he couldn't keep up with his 80-year-old golfing buddies.

He figured it was just old age. He underwent prostate cancer surgery in April and he didn't seem to bounce back to his usual, active self. He had low energy, frequent headaches, got tired easily, his knees hurt, and he had gained 12 pounds.

"I had always been such a dynamo. I didn't know why I felt like this," said Eads, a Gresham resident, and a former nationally ranked tennis player.

His wife, Jane, 66, also had added some pounds over the years, had a few aches and pains and also was tired frequently.

"I had neglected myself raising my children. I was always running here and there taking them places. I had become sedentary. I wanted to lose weight and feel better," Jane said.

The Eads are both retired from the Internal Revenue Service and did not want to spend their later years having a health problems.

Then they heard about Oregon Health Sciences University's Healthy Aging Project. They were among the first participants to sign up for this 15-month, proactive approach to health care. The project is still looking for 298 additional participants for this new and approach to primary care.

Within a month after Eads began his program with the Healthy Aging Project, he is back to playing 18 holes of golf. His knees don't hurt as much. His headaches have stopped. Both have lost weight, are more energetic and, in general, are feeling much better.

What makes the Healthy Aging Project different, is that each participant receives personalized care through a team of health professionals. The team includes a primary care provider, a nurse practitioner with expertise in working with aging adults, and nurse coaches skilled in health promotion and wellness. With the help of this team, participants develop their own health goals, and receive on-going education and support to reach those goals.

For example, the Eads were advised by their nurse coach to track their eating habits, add stretching to their daily routine, work out on a treadmill and join a water exercise class. Also, some of their medications were altered. Through testing it was found that Jane had low thyroid and was put on appropriate medicine.

"I've never felt so good," Jane said.

What her husband likes best about this program is that health professionals are listening to him.

"I feel we live in such a bureaucracy no one listens anymore. The people in this program seem to really listen to what I'm saying. I never feel like I'm rushed," he said.

Their nurse coach calls them frequently to check on their progress and suggest new ways to help them reach their goals.

The Healthy Aging Project, is being conducted at two OHSU clinics: the OHSU Health Center Sellwood-Moreland, 6327 S.E. Milwaukie Ave., Portland, and the Internal Medicine Clinic, 3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland. The project is sponsored by OHSU's Center for Health Aging.

Participants must be 60 years of age or older, have health insurance that covers services at OHSU, including their primary care provider, and choose a primary care provider from the Sellwood or Internal Medicine Clinic. There is no cost for the program, however, patients may be asked to pay for tests not covered by their insurance. The Healthy Aging Project is funded in part by the Administration on Aging of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Those interested in obtaining more information about the Healthy Aging Project can call 503 494-7757.