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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
October 03, 2007

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160

Community Leaders Can Help Seniors Stay Fit -- DHSS Releases Blueprint for Healthy Aging in New Jersey --


TRENTON – Saying that as much as 70 percent of the physical decline associated with aging is due to poor lifestyle choices, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. today encouraged community leaders to take steps to help seniors stay healthy and active.

The department today released Blueprint for Healthy Aging in New Jersey, a comprehensive guide to low-cost, New Jersey-based senior wellness programs that have been proven effective and could be replicated in communities around the state.

The Blueprint also contains data, some published for the first time, that can help community leaders better understand local seniors’ health issues and plan programs that meet their needs.  The Blueprint is aimed at local governments and leaders of health and aging service agencies.

“Community leaders can make a lasting difference by promoting the importance of healthy diet, exercise and health screenings among seniors, and by expanding older adults’ opportunities to join health promotion programs,” Commissioner Jacobs said.

“Walking groups, intercultural nutrition programs, and training sessions on self-management of chronic diseases are just some examples of programs that are popular with seniors and that help them stay active and independent,” he added.

The Blueprint outlines the benefits, both to the individual and the community, of promoting healthy behaviors.  It describes the range of model programs that have been implemented around the state, by state and local government as well as non-profit organizations.  Many programs include comprehensive toolkits for setting up and running the program.  To date, more than 800 people have been trained to lead these programs.

The Blueprint’s data section includes county-level information on the projected increase in the over-60 population, the current health and disability status of seniors, their physical activity and nutrition levels, and more.

“Every year for the next 20 years, 50,000 people in New Jersey will turn age 60, yet less than half of our nation's communities are currently developing strategies to deal with the needs of the elderly,” said Dr. Jacobs.  Blueprint for Healthy Aging in New Jersey will help local communities meet this challenge.”

          The Department of Health and Senior Services has administrative authority for the state's 21 Area Agencies on Aging and their network of 500 provider agencies.  A broad array of health promotion and chronic disease programs in areas such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis and asthma is available to New Jersey's older adults.  Through its Division of Aging and Community Services, DHSS works with community agencies to implement effective programs that promote older adult health.

The Blueprint is available on the department’s web site at  For information on senior health promotion services in your area, call the state’s NJ EASE hotline at 1-877-222-3737.

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