Older adults are living and working longer than any time in our history, redefining what life’s later stages look like. Hospitals and health systems want to be full partners in this promising evolution, doing all they can to ensure the “golden” years are just that, marked by good health and the ability to enjoy life.

With the number of Americans over age 65 projected to reach 95 million by 2060, age-friendly health care is an urgent need that will only grow. To ensure that older adults receive the care they need and that health care teams are supported in this work, AHA is pleased to be a partner in the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement, which focuses on addressing the unique care needs of older adult patients and supporting care teams. This is an initiative of the John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in partnership with the AHA and the Catholic Health Association of the United States.

An Age-Friendly Health System is one in which every older adult’s care is guided by an essential set of evidence-based practices known as the 4Ms: what matters to the patient, medications, mentation and mobility. Care teams recognized as age-friendly reliably implement the 4Ms together in every encounter with older adult patients.

More than 3,000 care sites in all 50 states — and several countries — have committed to learning and implementing these core ideas for providing care that is compassionate, empathetic and, most of all, effective, for an older population.

The 4Ms framework and other key components of age-friendly care are continually field tested, honed and improved in hospitals and other care settings via the Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Community.

This virtual community welcomes individuals and teams from hospitals, health systems, ambulatory care settings, long-term care settings, clinical practices, skilled nursing facilities and other care sites, encouraging all to share their learnings and best practices.

The AHA has launched the current seven-month window, and there’s still time to join. There is no cost, and participants have access to monthly webinars, 1-to-1 coaching and valuable resources.

Joining an Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Community is a great way to ready all providers to meet the care needs of an aging population. The robust curriculum can help health care teams redeploy and prioritize existing resources; support your health organization’s strategic initiatives; help address current topics, including workforce challenges; and stay ahead of the curve in preparing for the impending market shift.

The bottom line is that patients benefit most of all. Health care teams that have participated in previous action communities report that using the 4Ms framework has decreased length of stay for older adult patients, improved health outcomes, increased patient and staff satisfaction, helped address workforce challenges and had other positive impacts.

We hope that you will consider joining AHA’s Action Community and working toward becoming an “Age-Friendly Health Systems Participant” or better yet, achieving "Committed to Care Excellence" recognition. To learn more about age-friendly recognition and the current AHA Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Community, visit AHA.org/agefriendly.

Older patients and the families who love them care not only about length of life, but quality of life. As we navigate current challenges in the field, providing age-friendly care is part of AHA’s commitment to deliver better care and greater value — and advance the health of all individuals at every life stage in communities across the country.

Related News Articles

Chairperson's File
Consider these statistics and the impact on health care: By 2035, the number of adults age 65 or older is expected to outnumber children under age 18 for the…
A new special issue of Health Services Research highlights cutting-edge research from experts in age-friendly care. All articles are free and…
#HealthCareInnovation Blog
By Marie Cleary-Fishman Five years ago, a national effort began to ensure that health care for older adult patients is “age friendly.” This initiative — Age…
Chairperson's File
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…
Chairperson's File
Back in 2011, the first wave of Baby Boomers — people born from 1946 to 1964 — celebrated their 65th birthday. That marked a new demographic trend: the aging…