Envision Unlimited program participants and researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago partnered up in spring 2018 for Engaging with Aging, a 12-week “Person Centered Planning Project” designed to assess different areas that are important in the lives of the aging population.  Each week, attendees discussed different topics such as health, exercise, nutrition, friendships, and community.  The research team assessed participant’s current knowledge of that week’s topic, and then gave a presentation to increase understanding among the group.

At the end of each class, participants worked on a portion of a “lifeline” about their lives, including previous family history, current work/home life, and their goals and aspirations for the future.  The completed lifelines were then on display during the final class party.  You can see examples in the photos above and below!

Participants were interviewed before class started in April, and the research team is conducting another round of interviews now that the class is over.  Their was also a control group that did not receive the class, but were interviewed about the same topics. The data between the project participants and the control group will be compared to determine the effectiveness of the class.

Envision staff are currently engaged in an ongoing process of analyzing project outcomes from the first 12-week session in order to build a curriculum and staff training opportunities around the topic of aging.  Currently, two more sessions are planned, and we hope to continue this valuable partnership through early 2019. In the end, we believe that both researchers and program participants will benefit greatly from this type of research, and we thank our colleagues at UIC for making it possible.

P.S. Our partners at UIC gave a special shout out to Emelia Westerberg, QIDP/UC at Envision, saying that “she went above and beyond to let us succeed.”  Thank you, Emelia, for your leadership on this project!

Engaging with aging group photo of participants sitting in a circle
Engaging with aging group photo of participants sitting with arms crossed
Engaging with aging older male participant holding up his "life line" poster
Engaging with aging group photo of participants sitting at a table working on their "life line" project