History of CASHA
In April 2018, the Center for Applied Science in Health and Aging (CASHA) was launched
by the College of Health and Human Services. The new center, housed in the WKU Center
for Research and Development, will identify, develop, and mobilize social and health
innovations in applied research by enhancing well-being, performance, and functioning
in the aging community.
In 2011, Dr. Jason Crandall, Associate Professor in the School of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport created a health promotion program that combined the popular game of bingo with exercise (Bingocize®) and discovered significant improvements in older adults’ quality of life.
Since 2011, Bingocize® has been the main focus of Dr. Crandall’s research. Along with collaborators, Drs. Jean Neils-Strunjas (Communication Sciences & Disorders) and Matthew Shake (Psychological Sciences), the team, and now founding faculty members of CASHA, secured over $2 million in grant funding and completed multiple studies of the program. The impetus for CASHA was to create an applied research center to not only house Bingocize® research, but to focus on other interventions and research problems.
By 2050, the percentage of adults older than 65 will double to over 16% of the world’s population. In the United States, older adults will account for roughly 20% of the population by 2030. Unfortunately, more than a quarter of all Americans and two out of every three older Americans have multiple chronic disease conditions, and treatment for this population accounts for 66% of the country’s health care budget (Conn, Minor, Burks, Rantz, & Pomeroy, 2003).
Quality of life for older adults critically depends on their ability to remain functionally independent and manage their own life for as long as possible. Loss of mobility and independence related to poor physical and mental health leads to lower quality of life and a heavier burden on an already over-burdened health care system.
Health promotion and education programs designed to improve physical and mental fitness have the potential to reduce health care costs as well as maintain, or even improve, quality of life for older adults (Chodzko-Zajko et al., 2009). For example, interventions that reduce chronic disease risk and severity can decrease lifetime Medicare costs as much as 60% (Rula, Pope, & Hoffman, 2011). Also, even though quality health education programs are accessible to many Americans, the rates of chronic diseases continue to increase. Thus, adherence to health-promoting behavior programs remains a significant barrier to improving older adults’ health and well-being (Conn et al., 2003).
With the combined expertise of the founding faculty members, in psychological sciences, communication disorders and exercise science, CASHA will be a breeding ground for multi-level experiential and developmental learning opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students as the team will continue to pursue additional fundable lines of research, sponsorships, programmatic grants, client services, and support from community donors.