This summer we have witnessed catastrophic flooding in Louisiana, raging wildfires in California, and the rapid spread of the Zika virus. These frightening events should remind us about the importance of emergency preparedness. For those of us in the field of aging, these emergencies obligate us to remind everyone about their often outsized effects on older adults and the extra preparations needed for the safety of our aging population.
Flooding in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina.
With the floods in Louisiana, the worst natural disaster to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy, the numbers are staggering. At least 40,000 homes have been damaged, more than 30,000 people had to be rescued, and more than 8,000 people were in shelters last week, including many older adults. Four nursing homes in the Baton Rouge area were evacuated. The death toll attributed to the floods sadly rose to 13 this past weekend with the most recent victim a 93-year old woman who contracted pneumonia after inhaling flood water.
Patient receiving Collaborative Care depression treatment
Editor’s Note: Tess Grover, a Research Coordinator for the Division of Population Health in the University of Washington’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, co-authored this blog post.
Since 2013, the University of Washington AIMS Center and The John A. Hartford Foundation have partnered to increase access to effective, evidence-based depression treatment for older people living in rural, medically underserved areas through theSocial Innovation Fund initiative. Together we are helping Federally Qualified Health Centers in the western United States implement the highly effective Collaborative Care model.
In recognition of its successful collaboration with a health care system, we are proud to announce that the Southern Maine Agency on Aging (SMAA) is the first winner of The John A. Hartford Foundation Business Innovation Award. We congratulate SMAA for its bold, transformative work to improve the quality of life for older adults and/or people with disabilities through this sustainable business partnership.
JAHF President Terry Fulmer, right, with Tom Koutsoumpas, co-founder of the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) and President and CEO of the National Partnership for Hospice Innovation (NPHI), at the Roundtable meeting.
As I listened to the impressive group of highly knowledgeable and dedicated health care professionals, patients, and caregivers discuss this important topic, I found myself thinking about my mother. She is obsessed with end-of-life planning. Maybe obsessed is too strong a word, but she does talk about it a lot, and she feels strongly about her preferences in the face of serious illness or critical care.
The John A. Hartford Foundation has joined with four other outstanding foundations, all dedicated to transforming health care, to form an exciting new collaborative effort that will accelerate changes in our health care delivery system to improve care for high-need, high-cost patients with complex conditions.
This is both a moral imperative and our best opportunity to achieve a more financially sustainable health care system.
We all know someone—an aging mother or father, grandparent, brother or sister, dear friend or neighbor—who struggles with managing several chronic medical conditions. It could be a combination of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or dementia, just to name a few. Many of these individuals also have limited ability to care for themselves independently or they might face complex social needs such as poor access to healthy food or housing.
Last week, new projections from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published in Health Affairs show a predicted growth in U.S. health care spending of about 6 percent from 2015-25, outpacing the growth in gross domestic product. In a decade, health care is predicted to represent 20 percent of the U.S. economy. This unsustainable scenario underscores how imperative it is to continue focusing on all aspects of the Triple Aim: improving care, achieving better health outcomes, and managing costs.
These aims perfectly align with our mission and work at The John A. Hartford Foundation, where we remain committed to cost-effective, person-centered innovations that meet the needs of older people and their families.
CMS predicts that much of the projected increase will occur in Medicare and Medicaid expenditures due to the aging of the population. As the Health Affairs report states, there are many complex factors that influence health care spending growth. For example, with the Affordable Care Act, more people are now covered by health insurance than at any time in our nation’s history, and the number of Americans without health insurance is projected to drop to 8 percent by 2025.
During the years when copper was king in Butte, Montana, it was known as “The Richest Hill on Earth.”
Editor’s Note: For more than a year, the Health AGEnda blog has been featuring occasional guest posts regarding the eight primary care community clinics receiving funding through the federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF) initiative to spread the IMPACT program, also known as Collaborative Care, in the rural Pacific Northwest.
When it comes to improving the care of older adults, family caregivers are too often left out of the equation. This occurs despite their critical role in supporting the health and well-being of millions of older people.
The CARE Act, model legislation developed and spread by AARP and its state offices, has been enacted in about 30 states, providing a new tool to help balance that equation by requiring the identification, notification, and education of family caregivers of individuals who are hospitalized. (For more information, read the AARP Thinking Policy blog post Stepping Up to Support Caregivers.)
While this is just one step in one setting, we have the chance to help implement this law in the right way and leverage it into broader changes so that family caregivers are recognized and assisted in all parts of the health care system.
Amy Berman testifies before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
When I was first diagnosed with end stage cancer, I wanted to find a way to use my experience of care to inform people, families, health care providers, and policymakers about the attributes of good care for the seriously ill.
Sophie Shepherd at the KANA Clinic in Alaska with therapist Meara Baldwin, LCSW, a care manager in the depression treatment program funded through the SIF initiative. – From the JAHF 2015 Annual Report
In addition to highlighting several important grant projects approved in 2015, the report features an in-depth look at the Foundation’s Social Innovation Fund initiative, a creative public-private partnership that is spreading the evidence-based collaborative care model of depression treatment to underserved, low-income rural communities in Washington, Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska.