Imagine a tool that could help nations develop smarter policies to address the challenges and opportunities presented by our rapidly aging population.
That is the goal of The John A. Hartford Aging Society Index, currently being developed by the Aging Society Network under the leadership of John W. Rowe, MD.
The Aging Society Index project, approved by The John A. Hartford Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 2015, is working to develop an evidence-based composite measure, or ‘index,’ that describes the capacity of countries to successfully adapt to the world’s aging population.
John A. Hartford Foundation President Terry Fulmer, left, with her Aunt Mary.
In so many ways, we live in the golden age of aging. In the past century, lifespan has doubled. That is one of the greatest, yet underappreciated, accomplishments of modern times. And as more people are living longer than ever before in human history, we are learning more every day about how they can live healthier and happier lives.
My Aunt Mary was a prime example of successful aging. She was the mother of seven children, and when they were grown and her husband died unexpectedly at the young age of 59, she joined the workforce as a teacher’s aide in a school for developmentally disabled children.
A packed house turned out for the Santa Fe Group convening on oral health care for older adults. Photo courtesy of the Santa Fe Group.
The maxim “Put your money where your mouth is” speaks to doing what you say. For The John A. Hartford Foundation last week, it also took on a more literal meaning, as the Foundation funded an important convening to explore the best ways to enhance access to oral health care for older adults.
The Foundation-supported convening was organized by the Santa Fe Group, a unique collection of internationally renowned scholars and leaders from business and the professions bound by a common interest to improve oral health. The convening brought together an interdisciplinary set of thought leaders to discuss the inclusion of an oral health benefit as part of the Medicare program.
This year’s tumultuous campaign season has been riveting. However, Election Day will soon come and go, and our attention will turn from debates and proposals to the actual policy actions of our newly elected executive and legislative leaders.
Health care, which will likely soon approach nearly 20 percent of gross domestic product, will undoubtedly be among the top policy concerns for our new administration and Congress. The critical question will be how our leaders understand this complex topic and prioritize the directions our country should take. The question is relevant for all of us—health systems leaders, clinicians, advocates, consumers, and philanthropy.
Will we, for example, acknowledge and prepare for the 10,000 baby boomers who turn 65 every day and who are living longer than ever before? (A tremendous success story for humanity, by the way.) Will we focus attention in the right way on the 5 percent of people whose care accounts for 50 percent of costs because of their complex health and social needs?
Click image to view or download a PDF of the full report.
For far too long, the nearly 18 million family caregivers of older adults in the United States have been largely invisible to policymakers and our health care system, despite filling an absolutely essential role. The contributions these modern-day heroes make to the care of older adults is indispensable, and often comes at a significant cost to their own health, well-being, and financial security.
Families Caring for an Aging America, the sweeping new report from the blue-ribbon committee convened by the prestigious National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, offers a clear, comprehensive, and compelling rationale for creating a national strategy to elevate the position of family caregivers within our health care system.
Chandulal Patel, grandfather of author Kevin Cordeiro.
Editor’s Note: With back-to-school season in full swing, we are pleased to share this post from Kevin Cordeiro, one of our summer interns who aspires to be a physician and has just returned to Boston University.
During my sophomore year of high school, my grandparents moved in with my family. Lucky for me, my grandfather was an avid fantasy football player so it was great having someone to confer with on fantasy team decisions.
America’s opioid epidemic has reached crisis proportions, enough so that last week the United States Surgeon General took the unprecedented step of sending a letter to 2.3 million American health care professionals asking them to take a pledge to “turn the tide” on the opioid crisis.
Relieving pain is an essential element of good care, and we are appropriately reminded that the use of these powerful medications requires precision, caution, and perspective.
But something very important is missing from this prescription: a recognition of the needs and health challenges of older adults.
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.