CHHS Researchers to Study Needs of Charlotte Area Seniors

Monday, November 21, 2016

Charlotte and Mecklenburg County will soon have a better understanding of the needs of older adults in the area following “Meck50+”, a study led by UNC Charlotte and funded by the Southminster continuing care retirement community.

Unprecedented demographic changes including the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation pose new challenges for individuals and their families as well as communities and society at large.  As Charlotte and Mecklenburg County experience rapid growth and influx of older adults it is of interest to local governments, community-based organizations, the private sector and other community members to understand more accurately the health status and the array of programs needed to serve older adults in the community.  

Meck50+ will shed light on ways the community can support its aging citizens through three main goals:

·      To examine the socio-demographic characteristics, health status and service use needs of diverse populations 50 and older in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County

·      To outline the profile of family caregivers and assess health status, support needs, psychological outcomes and conditions under which they use community services

·      To disseminate study findings to stakeholders and community members, develop data-driven action steps and advocate on behalf of older adults.

“In addition to the prevalence of health conditions, we want to know about the social determinants of health and risk factors associated with illness and chronic conditions in late life.  Of particular interest is the impact of dementia and the conditions under which family caregivers provide care to their love ones,” said Dr. Julian Montoro-Rodriguez, director of UNC Charlotte’s interdisciplinary gerontology program and a principal investigator of the study.

With their team of researchers, they will assess the socio-demographics, physical and mental health, and the wellness and community makeup of the area’s older population.

“Part of our mission as a non-profit, life-care community is to meet a need. Learning the needs of our community ties directly to our mission and expanding our philanthropic reach,” said Southminster Director of Philanthropy Tracy McGinnis. “We are eager to support UNC-Charlotte’s study team in assessing the needs of older adults so local governments, community-based organizations, and private companies can better understand the growing challenges of age-related illness and dementia and accurately identify needs in the first place.”

A $195,000 donation from Southminster and $25,000 from UNC Charlotte will fund personnel salaries and benefits, including two graduate assistants to run the study, as well as materials and supplies.

Findings from Meck50+ will serve as a critical tool to address current and future challenges as well as opportunities in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, and inform and assist policy makers and service professionals with planning and allocation of resources for older adults.

The study will continue until April 2018.