The Florida Department of Health in Marion County (DOH-Marion) has been designated an Age-Friendly Public Health System by a national group that advocates for policies to promote illness and injury prevention and health equity for older Americans.
The Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) cited that this recognition is due to DOH-Marion’s commitment to the health and well-being of older adults who reside in Marion County.
Since 2018, TFAH has worked with the Florida Department of Health to help make promoting healthy aging a top priority for all county health departments in the Sunshine State. On its website, TFAH notes that the state of Florida is “deeply committed to improving the health and well-being of older Floridians.”
Megan Wolfe, TFAH’s Senior Policy Development Manager, said, “Trust for America’s Health’s Age-Friendly Public Health Systems Recognition Program is designed to encourage and support state and local health departments as they embrace their role in improving and supporting older adult health.”
Wolfe added, “The Department of Health in Marion County is working to enhance the lives of its older residents through collaboration with community partners, expanded programs focused on older adult health, and using data to develop elder-focused public health interventions. TFAH is pleased to recognize DOH-Marion as an Age-Friendly Public Health System.”
Nearly 30% of Marion County’s population consists of individuals who are 65 years of age or older, and DOH-Marion works to promote healthy aging among those older residents.
DOH-Marion achieved the status of Age-Friendly Public Health System by furthering what TFAH calls its “6 C’s” for supporting healthy aging, which include:
- Creating and leading. In this category, DOH-Marion was recognized for its work with Marion Senior Services, along with other community partners, to improve the livability of the community for older adults and creating an “age-friendly” plan for the whole county.
- Connecting and convening. Noted here was DOH-Marion’s commitment to bring together more than 25 public, private and nonprofit groups to gather data for the Community Health Improvement Plan, which in part is intended to establish goals to help improve the health of local seniors.
- Coordinating. This aspect referenced DOH-Marion’s work with Marion County Emergency Management to register and assess the health needs of hundreds of county residents who may need access to the community’s Special Needs Shelter in an emergency. A large majority of those registered for shelter access are senior citizens with acute health needs, such as those who require an individual oxygen supply or self-manage dialysis care.
- Collecting, analyzing, and translating. This section noted DOH-Marion’s efforts to gather and interpret data through its Community Health Assessment. The information collected by the survey helps DOH-Marion prioritize community-wide policies to address local seniors’ most critical health needs.
- Communicating. In this regard, DOH-Marion was recognized for its work to promote initiatives that improve the well-being of older adults. Specifically, this encompassed DOH-Marion’s Health Education team’s outreach to educate local seniors on diabetes management and self-care, as well as conveying awareness of stroke prevention, heart disease, and healthy lifestyles.
- Complementing. DOH-Marion was also acknowledged for joining community partners, such as local hospitals, advocacy groups for seniors, and county officials to conduct outreach programs in settings that seniors find familiar and comfortable. Those include, for example, local public libraries and churches.