The Health of Older Adults in Rural Communities: Mind, Body, and Soul

Jefferson Healthcare was selected as one of three site across the country to host a regional convening by the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs, an initiative of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers (National Center). On October 21, 2019, Jefferson Healthcare will bring together stakeholders from across Washington State to discuss the complex care needs for older adults in rural settings. The convening, held at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, WA,  will provide the opportunity to exchange knowledge regarding approaches that have adapted principles of complex care to rural communities.  It will also directly address the barriers of professional isolation for those working to address these issues.

At the same time, conditions in rural communities bring strengths that can contribute to successful complex care implementation.  Whole-person care is achieved when a small community means people are interactive with and observant of each other in multiple settings.  In addition, trusting relationships across sectors and organizations in a care ecosystem can be easier to foster when individuals tend to have relationships or interactions outside their professional roles.

Finally, the scarcity of an obvious answer or resource often serves, by necessity, as an incubator for creative, potentially even radically transformative solutions.  In the National Center’s efforts to capture knowledge across these regional convenings, the opportunity to document major insights and examples or innovation coming out of rural communities would be an underutilized resource to tap into, allowing larger communities to extrapolate lessons from the insights and experiences of rural communities.


Anna Foucek Tresidder is the Executive Director for Community Ecology, a consulting firm in Spokane, WA. Community Ecology provides technical assistance to non-profits and conducts innovative research addressing the issues of aging, rural and urban service connectivity, and policy advocacy.  Her research interests include rural aging, interprofessional education, and policy advocacy for equity and health.

Her current research consists of grants funding the study the efficacy of home-based services in keeping rural elders in their homes and independent.  She is also the PI on a Photovoice project with rural elders living independently in Eastern Washington.  This work is generating a qualitative narrative about rural aging in rural areas.

Dr. Tresidder also serves on the Board of Directors for Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels.   She has held academic appointments at Eastern Washington, Portland State, Oregon Health and Science and Pacific University in their respective Public Health departments.   She speaks internationally and domestically concerning issues of rural aging.

Dr. Jennifer Kulik is the Founder and CEO of Silver Kite Community Arts (, a Seattle-based company dedicated to promoting personal and community connections through innovative arts programs for older adults.

Each year Silver Kite reaches over 8,000 people in senior living communities, schools, parks, community centers and arts organizations.  In the summer of 2019 Silver Kite was presented with the Intergenerational Innovation Award from Generations United ( at their biennial Global Intergenerational Conference.

Dr. Kulik holds a Ph.D. in (Intergenerational) Theatre from Arizona State University, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Washington, and a B.A. in Theatre from Grinnell College.  She has received numerous awards including a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching Fellowship (2012) to conduct intergenerational arts research in Singapore and the Joseph F. Wall Alumni Service Award from Grinnell College in 2019.


The goals of this event was to:

  1. Increase knowledge among those working in rural communities by sharing approaches to complex care for older adults.
  2. Catalyze ideas for new and adapted solutions to better serve rural communities.
  3. Build networks among those who participate.
An archive of materials from the October 21, 2019 Regional Convening is available through The National Center for Complex Health & Social Needs, an initiative of the Camden Coalition.