The Healthy Senior University (UZS) was set up in October 2013 as an initiative of Professor Elżbieta Krajewska-Kułak, MD, PhD, Deputy Dean of Students Affairs at the Faculty of Health Sciences of the Medical University of Bialystok. Mateusz Cybulski, PhD in Health Sciences and researcher of the interdisciplinary aspects of population aging, was appointed as the project’s coordinator.
340 people have thus far graduated from the Healthy Senior University. In order to enrol, you have to meet two criteria: be over 60 years of age, and live in or near Białystok.
In the academic year of 2016/2017, the Municipality of Białystok, which contributes financially to the project, became the partner and joint organizer of the Healthy Senior University.
The main objectives of the Healthy Senior University are:
1. To promote healthy lifestyles and attitudes;
2. To present information in the following fields:
o Healthcare as a way to improve the living standard for the elderly,
o Use of innovative diagnostics and treatment technologies,
o Use of drugs, dietary supplements and pharmacoeconomics in treatment of geriatric diseases,
o Preventing social isolation of the elderly, engaging them in social activities.
The UZS curriculum is based on three foundations: lectures, practice, and optional courses.
In these courses, UZS students learn how to give first aid, measure glycemia and arterial pressure or perform phoniatric exercises, and they are taught the essential recommendations for cancer prevention.
The final phase of study covers three extracurricular courses:
1. Practical training in care for the disabled and people suffering from severe illnesses.
2. Practical training in care for grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
3. Practical training in Nordic walking.
In 2018 and 2019, UZS was nominated to the Podlasie Brand of the Year award. In 2019, it was recognized by the Mayor of Białystok as a “Senior Friendly Place”.
Because senior citizens are very interested in continuing education and building up health awareness, health education stage II in the form of the University of Psychogeriatric Disease Prevention was launched in the academic year 2015/2016, in response to the needs presented by the elderly people of Białystok. The project was officially launched on 7 March 2016. As the course is intended as a continuation of the health study course for seniors, the project is open to people residing in Białystok who are over 60 years old and have graduated from the previous edition of the Healthy Senior University.
The main objectives of the project are:
1. To promote healthy lifestyles and mental attitudes.
2. To acquire new knowledge in the following fields:
o Healthcare as a way of improving the living standard for senior citizens with mental disorders;
o Use of innovative diagnostics and treatment technologies;
o Use of drugs in treatment of mental disorders of the elderly.
3. To prevent social isolation and exclusion of the elderly.
4. To engage senior citizens in social activity.
The course comprises 11 lectures dedicated to such subjects as: classification of mental disorders among the elderly, i.e. depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, sleep disorders, sexual disorders, addiction to alcohol and drugs, dementia, and epidemiology for the particular categories of diseases.
The program is co-financed with the European Social Fund under the Knowledge Education Development Operational Programme, as a non-competitive project entitled Improving the competences of the academic staff and the institution's ability to accept people from other countries - Welcome to Poland, implemented as part of the Measure specified in the funding application for project no. POWR.03.03.00-00-PN14/18.