Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



As the baby boomer generation reaches elderly status, healthcare expenditures in the United States continue to rise. Contributing to healthcare costs is the high prevalence of chronic diseases caused by unhealthy habits of Americans such as tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and consumption of a poor diet. Many chronic diseases can be prevented by engaging in healthier behaviors. Communities and organizations can shift social norms and affect behaviors through policy intervention and environmental strategies. The purpose of this study was to describe policies and environments that foster healthy lifestyles in select senior centers in Montgomery County, Ohio. Specifically, this study highlights tobacco, physical activity, and nutrition policies and environmental strategies among Montgomery County senior centers. Key informant interviews were conducted at senior centers using the CHANGE tool, a resource from the CDC’s Healthy Communities Program. Many policies and environmental strategies in place among Montgomery County senior centers are a result of regulations from a higher level such as state laws, local ordinances, and city parks and recreation departments. Other key findings include an emphasis on tobacco policies and environmental strategies. Research using the CDC CHANGE methodology has not previously been conducted before in Montgomery County senior centers, therefore the information collected from this study serves as baseline information. The CDC recommends that CHANGE research be conducted annually to address incremental change and track progress over time. Recommendations for future research include using CHANGE tool to compare senior centers’ strengths and weaknesses over time.