Priority Education Topics for Older People

What’s most important is that a solution called Universal Design is available. The challenge is to identify implementation strategies that are appropriate for South Dakota.
— Leacey Brown

 AUTHOR: Leacey E. Brown, Gerontology Field Specialist, SDSU Extension

AUTHOR: Leacey E. Brown, Gerontology Field Specialist, SDSU Extension


Fall is the annual reporting time for South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension staff. Field specialist are responsible for reporting on the progress of goals and establishing additional goals. This process includes reviewing scientific research and requesting input from stakeholders. This blog will provide an overview of current trends in gerontology (scientific study of aging and older adults), priority areas identified for South Dakota, and how SDSU Extension plans to move forward in this area in 2019.

Fall prevention, aging well, lifetime housing, and technology use have been identified as the areas where SDSU Extension staff who work in the area of gerontology will focus their efforts. Fall prevention was identified because a recent report indicated that South Dakota in fifth in the nation for deaths from falls. Not only are falls detrimental to the health and well-being of the individual, falls have significant financial costs. In 2015, national estimates indicate that falls cost $95,000 per minute.

Aging well includes a wide array of planning topics, including purpose finding, spirituality, downsizing, etc. Closely linked to aging well is lifetime housing. This priority area was established because of South Dakotans have preferences for remaining in their home and communities as they age. Unfortunately, many homes have design features (e.g., stairs) that can make remaining in the home more difficult. What’s most important is that a solution called Universal Design is available. The challenge is to identify implementation strategies that are appropriate for South Dakota.

The final focus area is technology use. While the TeachSD project initially focused on older adults, the pilot has shown that age is a poor predictor of need for technology skill training. Technology skills training is needed in all age groups to ensure that citizens have access to information/resources. The pilot should be completed in 2019. Based on the results, SDSU Extension field specialists will decide appropriate next steps to increase technology use among non-users.

Each of these projects is at different stages. However, they are needing more stakeholder input and engagement. If you would like more information about any of these projects, or other information related to aging and older adults, please contact Leacey Brown at either (605) 394-1722 or leacey.brown@sdstate.edu. You can also visit iGrow.org for more information.