The growing aging population and the challenges for older adults demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for focused attention and action. In May 2022, the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) convened the Task Force on Healthy Aging to develop recommendations to support aging in place in North Carolina communities.
The task force was supported by funding from The Duke Endowment, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) Division of Aging and Adult Services and Division of Public Health, and AARP North Carolina. The task force focused on four key areas of aging in the community setting: falls prevention, mobility, nutrition, and social connections. Between May 2022 and April 2023, the full task force met 11 times; in addition, more than 35 topic-specific meetings or interviews were conducted. Dr. Tamara Baker, MA, PhD, professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and Dennis Streets, MPH, MAT, retired, former Director of DAAS and former Executive Director of the Chatham County Council on Aging served as task force co-chairs. They helped guide the 63 task force members through insightful conversations that led to the creation of the recommendations in this report.
Through task force meetings and discussions with leading experts, it became evident that the four key areas are closely interconnected. For example, poor nutrition may lead to increased falls risk, and poor mobility issues may decrease an older adult’s ability to connect with others in their community. There are also external factors that affect these four key areas, such as lack of transportation, unsafe environments for walking and daily activities, low income, and limited access to food.
The final report presents the 12 recommendations and 30 supporting strategies from the Task Force on Healthy Aging. Recommendations and strategies are organized by the following overarching topics: