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Senior Health Check-Up Program

In 2007, the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) introduced the Senior Health Check-Up Program, designed to promote better health and prevent or reduce chronic disease among older persons. This initiative assists New York State communities in making an impact on the quality of health for thousands of older New Yorkers and in reducing unnecessary health care costs through prevention. It uses a combination of specific disease screening; approaches include the "Welcome to Medicare" exam, local and state outreach, and other initiatives. This initiative was prompted by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data that showed that New York State is below the national average in the utilization of Medicare-covered preventive benefits including flu and pneumonia vaccinations, mammography, prostate cancer, diabetes, and the "Welcome to Medicare" exam.

The goals of introducing the Senior Health Check-Up Program are to increase awareness of benefits available, encourage and increase the use of preventive health screening and testing benefits, expand and increase the use of evidence-based chronic disease management and prevention and health promotion programs, and eventually decrease morbidity and mortality associated with preventable chronic disease. NYSOFA expects to increase the use of preventive tests by five to ten percent per year during the coming years and to exceed the national average for use of these benefits.

Among the initiatives being conducted by NYSOFA is a three-year demonstration grant (2007 to 2009) from the U.S. Administration on Aging entitled Empowering Older Adults to Take More Control of Their Personal Health Through Evidence-Based Programs. NYSOFA, the lead agency, is partnering with the NYS Department of Health on this initiative designed for individuals over 60 with chronic diseases, in particular diabetes, cardiovascular, and arthritis. The University of Albanys Center for Excellence in Aging Services is providing technical assistance and evaluation.

The goal is to build the capacity of local service delivery systems to incorporate and sustain implementation of the Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMPsee related article on page 2) and Active Choices Program, an evidence-based program developed by the Stanford Prevention Research Center that has been proven to be effective in helping older adults meet their physical activity needs. The objectives of this initiative are to implement CDSMP and Active Choices programs in three regions and reach 1,800 persons over age 60 throughout a three-year period for CDSMP and 3,300 persons for Active Choices; ensure fidelity to program protocols; and encourage ongoing quality improvement to guide systems change at the state and local level. Three pilot sites are currently implementing CDSMP and Active Choices the Capital District, Broome County, and New York City.

In May 2008, NYSOFAs Senior Health Check-Up Program expanded its scope and began a diabetes initiative. The first step was providing Area Agency on Aging Directors with information about Diabetes Risk Test screening materials that are available through the American Diabetes Association. Contact information for the 15 regional Community Coalitions for Diabetes Prevention, which partner with local health departments, hospital-based diabetes programs, the organizations, was also distributed by NYSOFA.