In America, the population aged 65 and older is expected to double by 2030. At that rate, this group is projected to comprise 20 percent of the population while utilizing 50 percent of the nation’s health care resources.
This tremendous increase in the graying population of America has led to increased research in all areas of aging, and The University of Alabama has emerged as one of the nation’s leaders for applied research on aging.
The mission of The Alabama Research Institute on Aging (ARIA) is to develop new knowledge, test new interventions, and disseminate information related to mental health and aging. Through applied interdisciplinary research, ARIA promotes improved quality of life for older adults.
Faculty and students from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Social Work, the Capstone College of Nursing, the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, the College of Engineering, the College of Human Environmental Sciences, and the College of Community Health Sciences are involved with ARIA.
Research projects span ARIA’s four focus areas:
I. Elder Caregiving
- Interventions to alleviate stress and burden among Alzheimer’s disease caregivers
- Grandparents as caregivers
- Intervention to help aging parents of children with severe mental illness
- Quality of life among family caregivers and relinquishing the caregiver role
- Improving middle-aged children’s abilities to care for their aging parents
- Religiousness and positive aspects of Alzheimer’s disease caregiving
II. Diversity in Aging
- Cognitive correlates of quality of life among rural older adults
- Geographic and racial/ethnic “hot spots” of mental health need
- Home delivered mental health services for rural aged
- Interventions to improve quality of life of rural elders receiving health care
- Racial/ethnic differences in mental health and mental health services use
- Use of the Internet for health information by rural Alabama households
- The role of social support in older African American men’s decisions about prostate screening
III. Quality of Care in Institutional Settings
- Staff recognition of depression in long-term care
- Pain assessment among cognitively impaired elders
- Transitions to long-term care
- Interventions to improve staff morale and decrease turnover
- Understanding differences among Alabama nursing homes
- Aging in Prison
- Quality of life of assisted living facilities
- Culture change in long-term care
IV. Palliative Care and End of Life Issues
- End-of-life care choices of prisoners
- Building legacies with seriously ill people and family members
- Family involvement in evaluating functional capacity to consent to end-of-life treatments
- Family members’ experiences with transitioning to hospice care
- Social workers’ end-of-life care educational needs
- Legacy online storytelling and palliative care
- Therapy for discomfort among dementia patients
All of these focus areas are represented by ongoing or recently completed research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, including the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research; the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality; the United States Department of Veterans Affairs; and national aging research funding agencies such as the Retirement Research Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association of America, and the John A. Hartford Foundation.