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 proportion of older adults in 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 currently span ARIA’s three focus areas:
- Current theme in geroscience: understanding how common mechanisms governing aging might underlie the occurrence and pathology of diverse chronic diseases
- Our goal: promote collaboration among UA researchers who study diseases that have an aging component, to identify commonalities.
- Nutritional & dietary patterns
- Toxic exposures
II. Behavioral Health
- Goals: Collaborative group of multidisciplinary researchers with an interest in behavioral health
- Members: Engaged in multiple diverse projects focused on older adults. Some examples of ongoing member and collective Projects:
- Manuscript for a Community Health Worker (Hearing Health Coach) Training program to assist older adults with hearing loss in rural communities.
- Developing an NIH R01 application: implementation of an interprofessional model to assist adults with hearing loss in rural communities.
- PCORI Funded Project SOAR–Published Environmental Justice Paper with 2 additional manuscripts in preparation.
- Preliminary data focused on colorectal cancer knowledge, and screening is being collected from 5 rural communities and will be included in an upcoming funding proposal submission.
- Numerous UMC Geriatrics Clinic-focused manuscripts are under review or in preparation.
III. Falls Prevention
- Identify areas of synergy across a multidisciplinary group of researchers with interest in falls research defined broadly
- Members represent work in: falls and diabetes; falls-prevention technology; falls and walker use; falls and health care team functioning; falls and epidemiology
- Recently completed secondary data analysis using a large publicly available dataset
- Meet monthly for brainstorming and action item check-ins
- Workshopping potential grant proposals in areas of overlap such as diabetes and falls, co-design and falls technology)
- Preliminary data for grant proposals: members of group partnering with University Medical Center for a retrospective chart review that will yield preliminary data for a grant proposal
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.