Alabama Geropsychology Education Grant

People 65 years of age and older represent 13% of the population and are the fastest growing segment of the population. This percentage is expected to increase to 20% by 2030, according to the Dept of Health and Human Services. The training program at the University of Alabama, made possible by GPE funding, has enabled the university to provide training in interdisciplinary health care of older adults and work towards meeting the goals of Healthy People 2010.

Enhanced Placement Experiences

Federal funding has allowed the university to partner with community stakeholders to provide geropsychology placement experiences to 12 doctoral geropsychology students, as well as make available coursework experiences to advanced students in other disciplines (such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work and law) who are doing research and practice concerning older adults.

Interprofessional Teamwork

Participation in this course has not only provided a distinct educational experience for the students, but has built bridges and enhanced teamwork among faculty across disciplines. The long-term benefits of such connection will be a more realistic, cost-effective and holistic approach to research and practice, as a move towards interprofessional teamwork becomes an increasing reality in care of geriatric patients in the field. This grant has allowed faculty from Psychology, Medicine, Nursing, Social Work, Law, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Nutrition to work & teach together.

Extended Services

As a result of grant funding, the university has been able to provide services at four placement sites. These include two rural primary care clinics, one urban primary care clinic, and an elder law clinic serving both rural and urban older adults.

Benefits

Placement sites have provided free services that would not otherwise have been available.

  • The benefits available to clients include no-cost provision of evidence-based psychological services to improve their overall quality of life, offered at a convenient location. 

  • Clinical sites become progressively more familiar with the services provided by geropsychologists when they are part of a primary care team, and services are increasingly focused on a comprehensive model of care for patients, improving the cost-effectiveness and overall outcomes of interventions by all professions. 

  • Students receive exposure to realistic and practical information in both classroom and clinical settings for working with low resource older adults.

  • This exposure happens early in their professional development. 

  • Data collected from this grant will further the field of geropsychology and further assist the formulation of effective treatments for older adults.

The Cost of Cuts

The elimination of GPE funding means that integrated training of psychologists with physicians, nurses, and pharmacists at the University of Alabama will no longer be possible. Mental health services to older persons in rural Alabama will be severaly limited. Low income African American elderly will not have easy access to critically needed psychotherapy for depression and assessments to determine competency in western Alabama. In addition, ability to provide community education about fall prevention, memory, nutrition and maintaining mental and physical health in aging will be severely limited in rural Alabama if GPE funding is cut.