"It is necessary to carve from the whole vast spectrum of human needs one small band that the heart and mind together tell you is the area in which you can make your best contribution.”
This has been the guiding philosophy of the John A. Hartford Foundation since its establishment in 1929. With funds from the bequests of its founders, John A. Hartford and his brother George L. Hartford, both former chief executives of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (the A&P grocery chain), the John A. Hartford Foundation seeks to make its best contribution by supporting efforts to improve the health of older Americans.
Aging Nation: A Challenge and an Opportunity
America is reaping the benefits of years of medical and public health advances. As the first Boomers turn 65, the largest-ever generation of older adults will redefine aging, living longer and contributing to our nation’s life and vitality. But our health care system must change as well to meet the needs of the growing number of older patients living with chronic illnesses, enabling them to maintain their health and independence.
The Best Health Care?
Older adults and society alike are not well served by our current health care system, in which care is fragmented, high cost, and low quality. Older patients experience higher rates of harm, injury, and even death from avoidable medical errors in the hospital. Vulnerable older people receive only 30 percent of indicated care for characteristically "geriatric" conditions such as dementia, incontinence, or falls. Hospital readmissions among older adults are distressingly high; one in five older adults will be readmitted to the hospital in the first 30 days after being discharged, causing unnecessary anxiety, stress, and expense.
Mandate for Change
We believe that as a society we can and must improve health care for older Americans to better meet their needs and maintain their independence and dignity. If we succeed, society will benefit from the continuing contribution of older people and from reducing health care spending.