Executive Overview

Claudia J. Beverly, PhD, RN, FAAN Director, Arkansas Aging Initiative Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

During the last two years, the Arkansas Aging Initiative (AAI) has shown tremendous growth in clinical care and educational programming in all seven of the regional centers funded from a portion of Arkansas’share of the Master Tobacco Settlement. Additionally, a new Center on Aging: the Oaklawn Senior Health Care Center was established as the eighth Center on Aging. The Cella family of St. Louis and owners of the Oaklawn Race Track contributed initial funds to open the Center and has pledged ongoing support through the Oaklawn Foundation to fund this new Center. The AAI’s regional Centers on Aging have provided the opportunity to transform the health and quality of life of older adults in Arkansas. Arkansas is the only state to offer this cutting edge network of regional centers on aging that includes interdisciplinary geriatric clinical care and educational programs to older adults statewide. The outstanding team of practitioners and educators that have been recruited statewide to the Centers on Aging made possible the following key areas of success during FY 2008 and 2009:

  • More than 10,000 educational programs statewide;
  • Programming offered in every county;
  • More than 128,900 educational encounters;
  • More than 84,500 clinic visits;
  • Securing grants, donations and volunteer hours contribute to the continued expansion of programs.  During 2008, more than $500,000 was leveraged from these sources, while in 2009 more than $4 million was secured;
  • The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, impressed with the Schmieding Caregiving curriculum, viewed the replication of this program as critical to the care of older adults who choose to remain in the home. An award of more than $3 million was made to the AAI to make it possible to establish this program in four of the regional Centers on Aging with hope of a second phase and four additional sites;
  • Chronic Disease Self Management education has poised all Education Directors and Outreach Coordinators to become Master Trainers charged with training the lay public to better care for their chronic illnesses; and 
  • Increased Access to interdisciplinary geriatric health care is within 60 miles of all

Arkansans 65 and older. The overall aim is to encourage people in a community to join together to provide through collective effort what the community needs, The AAI is proud to be part of developing these partnerships and skills within the community. In the past eight years, AAI has developed more than 700 partnerships throughout Arkansas.

Jeanne Y. Wei, MD, PhD Executive Director, Reynolds Institute on Aging Professor & Chair, Reynolds Department of Geriatrics

Making healthcare more accessible for older Arkansans has always been a primary goal of the Reynolds Institute on Aging. Ten years ago, specialized geriatric care was only available in Central Arkansas, and in a rural state like ours, this situation made it nearly impossible for many older adults to get the care that they needed.

Arkansas acted commendably when it committed funds from the nationwide Tobacco Settlement to the improvement of health of this state’s citizens. Following approval from the Legislature, and with encouragement from UAMS and guidance from the Reynolds Institute on Aging, the Arkansas Aging Initiative (AAI) was created. The growth of this program has enhanced healthcare for seniors around Arkansas, a predominantly rural state.

Partnering with local medical centers and communities, the AAI developed area centers on aging in eight strategic locations across the state. The centers followed the Reynolds Institute’s model and developed educational and specialized healthcare programs. In 2010, most of Arkansas’ older citizens have access to healthcare within a 60-mile drive from their homes, no matter how remote the area in which they live.
The Reynolds Institute on Aging is very pleased with the progress that has been achieved by its Arkansas Aging Initiative program. Together, we are surpassing the goals that were set when the program began, we are fulfilling the mission of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and we are providing a national model of healthcare for elderly rural Americans.