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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Valley AAA

Learn how this Michigan AAA offered health and wellness classes and evidence-based programs to empower older adults to take control of their health by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, exercising and increasing socialization.

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2020 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on Valley Area Agency on Aging's Community Impact Through Private/Public Collaboration program. The agency was a 2020 Aging Innovations Award winner in the Healthy Aging category. The AIA Awards are made possible thanks to the support of Centene.
 
Good health and wellness can support successful aging and independent living among older adults. The Valley Area Agency on Aging (VAAA) collaborated with Tivity Health, through Tivity Health's SilverSneakers health and fitness program, to provide additional opportunities for SilverSneakers' members to get out of their homes, socialize and move more, and for VAAA to reach more older adults, improve health outcomes among older adults and diversify its funding stream.
 
“The program has increased partnerships in the community, allowed the public to learn more about the VAAA and we have reached older adults that may not have known about senior services,” said Yaushica Aubert, President & CEO of VAAA.
 
As part of the pilot program, VAAA reviewed evidence-based programs that made the most impact in its community, such as A Matter of Balance and arthritis exercise programs, then submitted those programs to Tivity Health for approval as SilverSneakers FLEX classes. VAAA's class participation rate increased approximately 62 percent from 2017 to 2019. Tivity Health reported a 71 percent increase in participation among those SilverSneakers members who had not previously taken a class in the past year and an 88 percent increase in participation among those members who had never taken a class.
 
In addition, the AAA began offering SilverSneakers Stability classes within the community. To expand access to the exercise and wellness classes to reach more older adults, VAAA offered SilverSneakers classes at senior centers, senior housing apartments, assisted living facilities, community centers, churches and more. VAAA and Tivity Health also worked together to develop a pre and post-test tool to measure outcomes. Surveyed participants reported increases in strength and flexibility, improved health and reductions in depression, anxiety, stress, anger, isolation and loneliness.
 
AAAs seeking to replicate this program must register with Tivity Health to provide SilverSneakers classes and take additional online training. AAAs can get reimbursed for SilverSneaker members. Marketing is key, with news interviews, mailings and social media helping to spread the word about the program.
 
Check out this video to learn more about the collaboration between VAAA and Tivity Health. Questions? Contact Yaushica Aubert, yaubert@valleyaaa.org.
 
VAAA now also offers virtual and outdoor SilverSneakers classes that have been extremely successful. “Virtual classes have been a life saver! We are so thankful for VAAA for offering online classes during this time. We get to talk to our friends and strengthen our muscles, said Mr. and Mrs. Luckey, participants of the program.
 
For more information about the 2020 winners, see the press release and read the book of winners! To read about past winners and find other best practices for your agency to consider, visit our Best Practices page.

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