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Spotlight on Innovation: Age-tastic - Promoting Health and Emotional Wellness Using Game Play

In a new weekly feature, n4a will highlight the cutting-edge programs and successful strategies of our 2017 Aging Innovation Award Winners. This week we shine a spotlight on the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA), winner in the Healthy Aging category, for its initiative to engage older adults in wellness activities that are both fun and educational.

During n4a's 2017 Annual Conference and Tradeshow, the top four highest-scoring Innovations winners won cash awards thanks to the generous support of AIA sponsor WellCare Health Plans. As one of three agencies tied for second place, DFTA received a check for $1,000.

Although senior center members enjoy socializing and playing games, they often are reluctant to attend educational activities not perceived as “fun.” DFTA developed the Age-tastic program to reinvent the way older adults engage in health and wellness education. Age-tastic involves board game play for “dollars,” combined with group discussions and try-it-at-home activities, to reach older adults with important information about preventing falls, staying socially engaged, watching out for financial mistreatment, managing medications and exercising.

To create the program, experts on DFTA's staff collaborated with the Mental Health Association of New York City and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to break down mental health barriers and promote health through a holistic approach. Age-tastic is currently being used in close to 200 DFTA–funded senior centers with translated versions in both Chinese and Spanish. The game is designed to allow participants who complete the eight, one-hour sessions to continue to play on their own without an expert leader.

Results of a randomized control trial in five senior centers in New York City indicate that, after participating in the program, seniors feel more confident in their ability to manage their health and wellness and make positive lifestyle changes. Growing interest in the Age-tastic program has led DFTA to tailor and sell the game for national use, providing staff and volunteers in senior centers across the country with a new way to engage older adults.


To learn more about this year's winners, be sure to read our press release and check out our book of winners!

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