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Health and Nutrition Programs

Seniors CAN

Seniors CAN is a life skills educational program created by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) to optimize successful aging by improving older adults’ quality of life and help them maintain high-quality independent living. This program addresses the needs of southern Nevada’s rapidly growing elderly population in Clark County.


More than a quarter of Clark County’s 85,000 new residents each year are seniors. With the majority of elderly residents being relative newcomers, many lack the traditional support structures associated with work and family. The elderly have the potential to make great contributions to the community or to overwhelm state and local budgets with medical and social service costs. The National Institutes of Health estimates that delaying nursing home entry nationwide for just one month would save the country $3 billion annually. A community-based educational intervention can be a cost-effective strategy to provide a model health intervention to reduce risk and promote the health and independence of older adults.

What Has Been Done:

The Seniors CAN curriculum includes 15 lessons on nutrition, personal safety, food safety, finance, general health and productivity over a 16-week period. Each student receives an average of 32 hours of instruction over the four-month period. The program is taught in both English and Spanish.

The program objectives are to utilize the well-documented advantages of lifelong learning in order to enhance seniors’ sense of control over life, decrease loneliness and improve self-esteem, which research demonstrates leads to improved health outcomes. Using the train-the-trainer teaching model, volunteer instructors — including graduate students, senior center directors, social service providers and older adult peer educators — were recruited and trained to expand the program.

The curriculum is listed on the National Food Stamp Nutrition Connection Database and the CDC Health Promotion and Education Database, and has been sold to 31 states and Canada.


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