SSON Announces Interim Dean

Lori Popejoy, PhD, RN, FAAN is currently the associate dean for Innovation and Partnership and an associate professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri.  She obtained her BSN’93, MS(N)‘96 and PhD‘07 from the University of Missouri, and has been a faculty member in the school since 2007.  She was awarded the John A. Foundation Building Academic Nursing Capacity Scholarship from 2002 to 2004.  Her post-doctoral training was supported by the John A. Hartford Foundation, Claire M. Fagin Post-Doctoral Fellowship from 2009 to 2012. 

Dr. Popejoy is a health systems researcher. In her current position she is building opportunities with community partners to use cutting-edge research findings to manage the complex care needs of older adults across the care continuum. Her research focuses on understanding the complex issues surrounding the provision of care to elders in hospitals, nursing homes, community settings, home healthcare and primary care. When asked about her accomplishments thus far in her career she states, “My research with my colleagues has changed care-delivery systems in the United States. With the help of the John A. Hartford Foundation and the education I have received from the University of Missouri, we have made an impact for the care of older adults around the world.”  This research centers around the design, implementation and evaluation of nurse care coordination and transitional care practices in a variety of aging-in-place settings that have national and international implications for the care of older people.

In addition to aging-in-place, Dr. Popejoy’s work in nursing homes has been ongoing for over 20 years and has centered on improving nursing home capacity to manage increasingly complex resident care issues and improve outcomes. Her work is interdisciplinary including colleagues from the health-related disciplines, informatics, engineering, ethics and economics. She has more than 100 publications in refereed journals and has received funding from National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality.  She has served as co-director or co-lead on three studies with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations (CMMI), funded for nearly 48 million dollars.

Dr. Popejoy is excited to take the position of Interim Dean of the Sinclair School of Nursing. She hopes to continue the strategic initiatives that have made the school a highly respected academic and top-ranked school in the United States. ““We have exciting times ahead. We are moving into our new building this fall and it will bring more opportunities for research, collaboration and experiential learning. The Sinclair School of Nursing is positioned to grow and flourish with our strong history of excellence and innovation.”

When Dr. Popejoy is not blazing trails at the Sinclair School of Nursing, you will find her enjoying life outdoors with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren. She loves to travel, kayak, fly fish, hike, garden and stay engaged in the Columbia community where she has lived for 41 years.

SSON study finds health benefits of ‘aging in place’ at TigerPlace

Care at independent living facility helps older adults avoid declines in physical, mental and cognitive health outcomes.

First published May 27, 2022 by Show-Me Mizzou. For more information contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144, consigliob@missouri.edu

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found the majority of older adults want to stay in their own home as they age. However, given the natural decline in health that comes with aging, some older adults may have to move into a nursing home or assisted-living facility to receive more intensive levels of care.

To help older adults live independently as they ‘age in place,’ researchers at the University of Missouri analyzed eight years of health data from 2011 – 2019 for more than 190 residents at TigerPlace, a senior living facility developed in partnership between the MU Sinclair School of Nursing and Americare Senior Living.

Researchers found that because registered nurse care coordinators were able to identify illnesses early and quickly in residents and provide them with appropriate care and services, most of the older adults living at TigerPlace were able to stay healthier longer, which allowed them to comfortably ‘age in place’ and reduced their need to be transferred to a nursing home for more intensive levels of care.

TigerPlace combines the convenience and privacy of individual apartments with many recreational and socialization opportunities, such as sports bars, fitness centers, live music performances, pet therapy visits, dominoes, Bible study, bingo, volunteer opportunities and programs with local churches.

The residents at TigerPlace received health assessments from registered nurse care coordinators every six months related to cognitive functioning, completing daily tasks, depression, the risk of falling and physical functioning. Additionally, some residents chose to use noninvasive motion, bed, and depth sensors to trend level of activity, respiratory and heart rate, and fall detection. Changes in activity, new or increased falls, and assessment were used to identify illnesses, such as pneumonia or a urinary tract infection, as early as possible so interventions could be provided quickly.

“The benefits of both the regular health assessments and use of non-invasive sensors helped to keep them steady as they age comfortably,” said Lori Popejoy, lead author on the study and an associate professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. “The goal is to identify slight declines in health as early as possible so the right services can be put into place, whether it is connecting them with a doctor, beginning therapy or starting treatment to depression, whatever is needed based off the assessments.”

Popejoy added the exercise and socialization opportunities available at TigerPlace help improve both physical and mental health outcomes, as well as reduce the risk of falls by improving muscle mass and strength. The average age of study participants was 84.

“The residents are able to use these services to enhance their quality of life in retirement, which allows them to live longer independently,” Popejoy said. “For older adults that are still living at home and maybe starting to notice increased difficulty completing daily activities, or for those who are struggling with social isolation, moving to a facility like TigerPlace can be very helpful for living a healthier life longer and possibly avoiding the need to ever move to a nursing home.”

The research study was interdisciplinary in nature, involving collaboration among nursing students, medical students, social workers, engineers and information technology professionals.

With May being ‘Older Americans Month,’ Popejoy has dedicated her career to improving the quality of care for older adults. She has provided hands-on clinical care in a variety of health care settings, from hospitals and nursing homes to community centers and home health care agencies.

“Longitudinal analysis of aging in place at TigerPlace: Resident function and well-being” was recently published in Geriatric Nursing.