A $2.55 million grant will enable the Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at the University of Louisville, KY, to create the Kentucky Rural & Underserved Geriatric Interprofessional Education Program.

The three-year initiative will include a group of transdisciplinary faculty at the university as well as partner organizations from six rural counties. The total population of the six counties is 202,726, with 13% of residents aged 65 or more years.

The program aims to address:

  1. The lack of supportive environments to promote health, specifically for older rural populations;
  2. The need for supportive education and resources in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias;
  3. The shortage of the geriatric and primary care work force;
  4. The need to train healthcare providers who can deliver culturally appropriate services to Kentucky’s growing Hispanic population; and
  5. The need to decrease the chronic disease burden in rural Kentucky.

With the grant funding, the program will develop an interprofessional education center for geriatric education at the University of Louisville for students and professionals in medicine, nursing, social work, dentistry, pharmacy, community health and law; provide training and community engagement resources to create dementia-friendly communities in the six-county region; and help primary care sites deliver integrated, patient-centered geriatric primary care.

“This project is unique in its integration of community health teams and mental health specialists within geriatric primary care delivery systems,” said the executive director of the 15-month old institute, Anna Faul, D.Litt.Et Phill. “We are going to use a systemic approach of collaborative care and develop an inter-agency consortium that strengthen the links among related services for older adults.”

Among collaborators will be the University of Louisville Geriatrics Home Care Practice in Bullitt County and the Barren River Area Agencies on Aging and Independent Living.