Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Researchers awarded over $1M to address technology disparities facing older adults

Researchers awarded over $1M to address technology disparities facing older adults

FEBRUARY 8, 2022 — UTSA professor Sarah Ullevig has been selected to receive a three-year, $1.18 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to address older adults’ challenges to access health care as a result of COVID-19.

The pandemic highlighted and increased disparities in health access and outcomes for older adults in San Antonio and nationwide. Ullevig, an associate professor of nutrition and dietetics in the UTSA College for Health, Community and Policy (HCaP), hopes to close this gap. The NIH grant will go toward efforts to offer a training course to older adults and collect data.

Senior centers have traditionally provided hot meals in a congregate setting, opportunities for socializing and educational outreach. Due to the pandemic, however, many of these centers were closed to indoor activity. During the closures, the centers’ five-day congregate meal service was transitioned to twice-a-week curbside pickup distributing the five meals and delivery for those not able to pick up meals.


“We aim to increase access to nutrition information that will promote healthy aging.”



Compounding these challenges, at the same time when food insecurity has reached a new height, many local seniors have been isolated without access to internet technologies.

Ullevig will be working with a team of UTSA researchers to advance the project. Her co-investigators include Erica Sosa, associate dean for research and associate professor in HCaP’s Department of Public Health; public health professors Meizi He and Zenong Yin; and Tianou Zhang, assistant professor in HCaP’s Department of Kinesiology.

The researchers will work with the City of San Antonio’s Department of Human Services and Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP to implement a plan to increase access to and develop a comprehensive understanding of technology among San Antonio’s older adult population. OATS will provide the devices, internet access, tech support and a five-week training course to the target population. UTSA will provide a 15-week digital nutrition intervention entirely online following the technology course.

The UTSA team is currently designing the nutrition intervention and assessing the needs of older adult community members and staff in San Antonio’s senior centers.

“We aim to increase access to nutrition information that will promote healthy aging,” Ullevig said. “This collaborative project has the potential to positively impact the older adult community by addressing disparities worsened by the pandemic. Providing older adults with the skills and knowledge to access information online can extend well beyond our project and has a potential broader application through the senior congregate meal program nationwide.”

The UTSA College for Health, Community and Policy was created to improve the well-being of communities and affect change for complex social issues. This grant award will directly impact HCaP’s mission by closing the gap between older adults and technology-based services to improve their overall health and wellbeing.

This project is supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01NR020303. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Amanda Cody and Ingrid Wright



UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu.


UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


Spotlight

Spotlight

dtc-utsa-sign_680.png
University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education .

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.