Health AGEnda

New Guidelines Show What a Geriatric Emergency Department Should Look Like

TS_emergency_300A hospital emergency department can be a chaotic and dangerous place for older adults, resulting in poor outcomes, distress, and dissatisfaction for them and their families.

We’ve had several posts on Health AGEnda related to emergency department (ED) care of older adults (See Building a Better Emergency Department for Older People, Collaboration Across Departments and Foundations Leads to Improved Emergency Care  , and Can EMTs Improve Outcomes for Older Adults Leaving ER?). Older people use emergency rooms in greater numbers than younger adults, and once admitted are more likely to have an emergent or urgent condition, be hospitalized, and be admitted to a critical care unit.

Fortunately, there’s a growing cadre of passionate emergency medicine physicians with geriatrics expertise who are trying to improve emergency care for older people. This is happening in part through the American Geriatrics Society’s Geriatrics for Specialists Initiative and the Jahnigen Scholars program, which we’ve funded for years. The Atlantic Philanthropies and others have supported the Jahnigen Scholars as well as work in specialty nursing care, reaching out to emergency nurses to build their geriatrics expertise.

Continue reading

Valentines for the Hartford Change AGEnts (and my Dziadzia)

From left, Dziadzia, Rachael Watman, and Rachael's grandmother in 1971.

From left, Dziadzia, Rachael Watman, and Rachael’s grandmother in 1971.

My grandfather, Albert Chura, was born on Valentine’s Day in 1907, on a boat en route to the United States from Poland. His family wanted to make a better life in America. And after a lifetime of doing so, at the age of 83, he died on my birthday.

Valentine’s Day always makes me think of Dziadzia (Polish for Grandfather and oddly pronounced Judgie—“Mom, that can’t be how you spell it!”)

Continue reading

Educating Health Care Professionals and Caregivers About Post-Operative Confusion

TS177524905_delirium350Two years ago, I wrote a blog titled Confused About Post-Operative Confusion about my father’s experience with post-op delirium after he had triple bypass surgery. It obviously struck a chord with many.

Even now, it consistently remains one of the most-visited pages on our website, and has drawn 26 comments from people who are caregivers themselves and whose relatives experienced symptoms of delirium similar to my father. And more comments continue to be posted even after two years. Usually our blogs receive comments from grantees/policy people, professionals, etc. It is less common that our blogs reach caregivers.

What we’ve discovered is that there are many caregivers and others faced with similar circumstances who are hungry for information on post-op delirium and are finding my blog post through various internet search engines.

Continue reading

Remembering Dr. David Solomon: Geriatrics Pioneer, Educator, Researcher, and Leader

David_Solomon300

David Solomon, MD, was a pioneer of geriatric medicine.

Last week, the world lost one of the giants of American medicine and a founder of modern geriatrics, Dr. David Solomon, who passed away on July 9 at the age of 90.

“Lost,” however, is not really the right word. While I never had the honor of meeting Dr. Solomon, I can say with certainty that his legacy lives on through the people he mentored, the field he helped build, and the vision of care for older adults that continues to guide much of what we and our grantees do.

Continue reading

A Better Way Forward for Dementia Care

Callahan_Chris200

Chris Callahan, MD

At the American Geriatrics Society meeting a few weeks ago, I—along with most of the attendees—was spellbound by Dr. Diane Meier‘s Henderson Award lecture  on the issues confronting geriatrics and palliative care and our profound failure to deliver useful care to those with incurable serious illnesses.

One of the pieces of evidence for her arguments that I had somehow missed was a paper by Beeson Scholar alumnus Dr. Chris Callahan and colleagues at Indiana University entitled, “Transitions in Care for Older Adults with and without Dementia.”

Continue reading

Volk Lecture: Nurses Play Essential Role in Health Care Innovation

Jennie Chin Hansen, chief executive officer of AGS, delivers the Norman and Alicia Volk Lecture in Geriatric Nursing.

Jennie Chin Hansen, chief executive officer of AGS, delivers the Norman and Alicia Volk Lecture in Geriatric Nursing.

Delivering the 5th Annual Norman and Alicia Volk Lecture in Geriatric Nursing, Jennie Chin Hansen, RN, MS, the chief executive officer of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), eloquently challenged her audience to renew their efforts to ensure that older adults receive better care in hospitals, in their communities, and at home.

A crowd of more than 300 nursing students, faculty, and guests attended the recent lecture at New York University’s College of Nursing. The topic was “Health Care Today and Tomorrow: How Can We Make a Difference?”

Continue reading

AGS Recognizes Hartford Foundation Grantees, Friends

Gail M. Sullivan, MD

Gail M. Sullivan, MD

I heard it through the Grapevine … the one in Texas, that is. Several of our grantees and friends are being recognized this week at the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) meeting for their outstanding contributions to advancing the care of older adults.

Most of our staff are here in Grapevine, Texas, between Dallas and Fort Worth, for the AGS’ Annual Scientific Meeting and we couldn’t be more proud of the well-deserved accolades being bestowed on geriatrics professionals with ties to such John A. Hartford Foundation -supported programs and project partners as Beeson Scholars, Hartford Centers of Excellence, Practice Change Fellows, Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR), the Center to Advance Palliative Care, and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Continue reading

Dr. Seuss knew what ails health care system—and so do our Hartford Grantees

OnlyOldOnce200March 2nd marked what would have been Dr. Seuss’ 109th birthday (Theodor Seuss Geisel, Born: 1904, Died: 1991). I have always been a big Seuss fan, but even more so after my 7-year-old son recently checked out Dr. Seuss’ You’re Only Old Once! A Book for Obsolete Children from his school library. (“Because you like old people, Mom.”)

It is a fantastic patient-centered read and a hilariously sad reflection of our health care system.

“This small white pill is what I munch
At breakfast and right after lunch.
I take the pill that’s Kelly green
Before each meal and in between.

Continue reading

New Nurse Fellowship Will Help Prepare Gero-Focused Policy Leaders

Elena O. Siegel, an assistant professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at University of California-Davis and a 2011 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar, is a fine example of the kind of nurse leaders the new fellowship hopes to create. Siegel is a former Claire M. Fagin Postdoctoral Fellow, funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity program and Atlantic Philanthropies.

Elena O. Siegel, an assistant professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at University of California-Davis and a 2011 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar, is a fine example of the kind of nurse leaders the new fellowship hopes to create. Siegel is a former Claire M. Fagin Postdoctoral Fellow, funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity program and Atlantic Philanthropies.

With the memory of the greeting card and chocolate-fueled Valentine’s Day in our rear view mirror, we would like to honor the part of the holiday that focuses on relationships by announcing a new partnership.

The Gerontological Society of America’s National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence has joined with The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program to create a fellowship for nursing professionals to gain the experience and skills necessary to develop and implement health policies that affect our aging society.

Continue reading

When Age Does—and Doesn’t—Matter: A Consensus on Treating Diabetes in Older Adults

It seems ironic, but often the best way to advocate for older adults in our health care system is to articulate how critically important it is to consider age, and in the next breath, explain its irrelevance.

While admittedly oversimplified, my point can be seen in a consensus report on diabetes in older adults released in late October. The report addresses the unique needs of older adults with diabetes as a population, and at the same time, strongly recommends against using age as the basis for treatment decisions. Why? Because screening and treatment decisions should be individualized based on health status and complexity.

For example, maintaining tightly controlled blood sugar levels might make sense for an otherwise healthy 70-year-old who has just been diagnosed with diabetes. It may not make sense for a person of the same age who has Alzheimer’s disease, lives in a nursing home, and has other chronic conditions that are more disabling.

Continue reading