ETSU to host symposium on aging with TennCare

Published 12:20 pm Monday, September 18, 2023

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JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University’s Center for Rural Health Research and TennCare are teaming up to host the East Tennessee Aging Symposium on Friday, Sept. 29.
The event will give community-based organizations the opportunity to shape the development of Tennessee’s Multisector Plan for Aging (MPA). Participants will have the opportunity to hear from Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Ralph Alvarado, as well as representatives from TennCare, AARP Tennessee and faculty from the ETSU’s Center for Rural Health Research.
“Collaborating with communities and organizations across the state that are dedicated to the well-being of our aging population is an important step in making sure Tennessee is well-positioned to meet the challenges and opportunities of caring for our elderly population,” said Anna Lea Cothron, systems transformation director for the Division of TennCare.
An aging population is part of a national conversation, and ETSU – a national leader in healthcare – will play an important role in that dialogue.
“This is vitally important work that will help shape the future of elder care not just in our region, but across the state,” said Dr. Kimberly D. McCorkle, ETSU’s provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “This speaks to the heart of the ETSU Center for Rural Health Research’s mission to improve health and well-being and will ensure our rural populations remain at the forefront of these conversations.”
Tennessee is one of 10 states selected to participate in a National Learning Collaborative sponsored by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) to lay the groundwork for creating an MPA. According to the CHCS, MPAs act as a roadmap to help states transform infrastructure and coordination of services for rapidly aging populations and people with disabilities.
Census figures show that 1.7 million Tennesseans are currently 60 or older. The population of Tennesseans 60 and older is the fastest-growing age demographic in the state, and will soon constitute one-fifth of the Tennessee population. By 2034, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that those aged 65 and older will outnumber those under the age of 18 for the first time in United States history.
ETSU’s Center for Rural Health Research, part of the ETSU College of Public Health, worked with TennCare to develop the Tennessee Multi-Sector Plan for Aging data dashboard. The online tool provides comprehensive data and statistics related to various aspects of aging, such as demographics, health and well-being, economic security, social engagement and community support.
The data dashboard offers a user-friendly interface that allows policymakers and stakeholders to access and analyze data in a visual and interactive manner.
“I am excited to be part of developing a plan for folks in Tennessee to age through older adulthood with dignity and vibrance,” said Dr. Laura Hunt Trull, with the Center for Rural Health Research.
The East Tennessee Aging Symposium runs from 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at ETSU’s James and Nellie Brinkley Center, located at 2001 Millennium Place, Johnson City. Those interested in attending can register online at

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