Szanton Receives GSA’s 2016 Senior Service America Senior Scholar Award

For Immediate Release
December 1, 2016

Contact: Todd Kluss
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The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and Senior Service America, Inc., have named Sarah Szanton, PhD, ANP, FAAN, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing as the 2016 recipient of the Senior Service America Senior Scholar Award for Research Related to Disadvantaged Older Adults.

This honor acknowledges presentations at the GSA Annual Scientific Meeting that represent exemplary basic or applied research related to the capabilities, contributions, challenges and concerns of disadvantaged older adults, especially those who are low-income and minority group members. The Senior Scholar Award recipient must have five or more years of professional experience after receiving his/her terminal graduate degree.

Szanton was selected for the paper “Food Assistance Reduces Nursing Home Admissions for Maryland’s Dually Eligible Older Adults.” Her study showed that — all else equal — older low-income recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are significantly less likely to enter a nursing home. And if they do, their stay is substantially shorter than those who are not SNAP recipients.

The award presentation took place at GSA’s 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting, which was held November 16 to 20 in New Orleans, LA. This conference fosters interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, educators, and practitioners who specialize in the study of aging. Visit for further details.

Szanton is an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. She has developed a program of research on the role of the environment and stressors in health disparities in older adults, particularly those trying to “age in place” or stay out of a nursing home. The result is a program called CAPABLE, which combines handyman services with nursing and occupational therapy to improve mobility, reduce disability, and decrease healthcare costs. She is currently examining the program's effectiveness through grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Innovations Office at the Center on Medicaid and Medicare Services.

She is also conducting a study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, of whether food and energy assistance improve health outcomes for low-income older adults. A former health policy advocate, Szanton aims her research and publications toward changing policy for older adults and their families.

Szanton completed undergraduate work in African-American Studies at Harvard University. She holds a MSN degree from the University of Maryland and a PhD from Johns Hopkins University.  She has had funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research and the John A. Hartford Foundation. Szanton also is a GSA fellow, which represents the Society’s highest class of membership.


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education.

Senior Service America, Inc. (SSAI) is committed to making it possible for low-income and other disadvantaged older adults to participate fully in determining their own future and the future of their communities. For more than 40 years, the organization has operated the federal Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) through a network of local subgrantee organizations. For more information, please visit

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