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Hospital for Special Surgery helps its community age with dignity

Older adults face unique health challenges including physical and cognitive changes, social isolation, loneliness and lack of access to health services. Using a Community Health Needs Assessment, the Greenberg Academy for Successful Aging at Hospital for Special Surgery identified social isolation and loneliness as the biggest challenges facing the older adult population. In response, HSS expanded Aging with Dignity, an initiative that supports healthy aging in older adults.

AWD aligns with the New York state Prevention Agenda priority area “Promote Wellbeing and Prevent Mental and Substance Use Disorder.” The program offers weekly phone-based support groups for older adults to discuss and share the challenges of aging in a safe environment. Coping skills are taught through Zoom-based interactive workshops around web information literacy, journaling, music therapy and art therapy. A digital and print multilingual resource guide was also developed to increase older adults’ access to and awareness of local and online resources for health and wellness.

The goals of AWD are to:

• provide a safe community for older adults to discuss the challenges of aging;

• normalize life events;

• educate older adults on how to manage healthy aging; and

• improve older adults’ health and well-being by

  • increasing social connectedness,
  • decreasing stress and anxiety and
  • improving energy and mood.

AWD has conducted 116 support groups and 13 workshops reaching 1,135 older adults. The majority of participants reported an increase in knowledge (92%) and self-management skills (84%), high program satisfaction (91%) and high likelihood to recommend the program to others (93%). Qualitative data indicated that AWD provides participants with tools to overcome aging challenges, creates a sense of community and offers a calming, supportive and open environment to discuss shared experiences.

For more information, contact Bertilia Trieu, senior coordinator II, outcomes and data analytics, at trieub@hss.edu or 917.260.4444.