One demographic in the U.S. that has been constant in recent years is the aging of the population. More than 46 million Americans are age 65 and older, and that number is projected to double to more than 98 million by 2060.
For those of us who have aging parents, are caregivers or are ourselves “older adults,” we know the health needs of people over age 65 are unique. Many older adults have more than one chronic disease and take multiple medications. Some individuals in this population are transitioning from living independently to relying more on others.
The Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative is helping ensure that older adults receive health care that addresses their needs and preferences. More than 2,700 care sites — including hospitals, health systems, ambulatory settings, skilled nursing facilities and primary care practices — have been designated as “age friendly.”
Guiding this initiative is a set of evidence-based practices called the 4Ms Framework. This framework focuses on asking older adults “what matters” in order to align care with their specific health outcome goals and care preferences; using age-friendly medications that don’t interfere with what matters, mentation or mobility; preventing, identifying, treating and managing depression, dementia and delirium across care settings — i.e., addressing mentation; and addressing mobility issues, so older adults move safely every day to maintain function and do “what matters” to them.
The AHA is leading an Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Community this fall, and you are invited to join. This seven-month virtual convening will offer monthly webinars, customized coaching and networking opportunities to help health care professionals and teams redeploy and prioritize existing organizational resources and improve care for older adult patients.
To learn more, register for upcoming informational webinars and see a list of health care organizations that have received recognition for providing age-friendly care, visit AHA.org/agefriendly. Age-Friendly Health Systems is an initiative of the John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in partnership with the AHA and Catholic Health Association of the United States.
Our commitment as health care leaders is improving the health of people in our communities at every life stage. Making care age-friendly is imperative in reaching that goal.