Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



The population of the elderly is expected to rise due to an increase in life expectancy and the aging baby boomer population. This increase in the elderly population will likely cause a burden on the health care system. This burden can be mitigated by promoting healthy lifestyles such as increased physical activity, healthy eating, and tobacco cessation in the elderly. Additionally, by participating in healthy behaviors, seniors can significantly improve their quality of life. Senior centers are at the forefront of promoting healthy lifestyles for the elderly. By promoting physical, social, and mental well-being, senior centers act as a focal point for the elderly community. The purpose of this study was to describe organizational policy and environmental initiatives that promote healthy lifestyles for seniors in Montgomery County, Ohio. This study focused on initiatives at five senior centers. Data was collected through key informant interviews using CDC’s CHANGE tool focusing on community institutions and organizations. This tool included five sections: physical activity, nutrition, tobacco, chronic disease management, and leadership. Results showed that policy and environmental initiatives were most frequently used in the physical activity and chronic disease management sections. Senior center policy and environmental initiatives promoting healthy nutrition and leadership were less likely to be implemented. Though the CHANGE tool helped identify strengths and weaknesses for the interviewed senior centers, it did little to assess the effectiveness of healthy lifestyle programs. Future research efforts can incorporate measures of participation as an added parameter to the CHANGE tool in order to assess the effectiveness of programming for seniors.