PAMF Takes a Leadership Role to Support Seniors Aging in Community
Posted on Oct 1, 2013
With Baby Boomers turning age 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day, speakers at a forum titled “Aging and Community Redefined – A Vision for the Future,” explored ways that health systems can partner with communities to ensure that seniors can live independent and fulfilling lives in the communities they love. The symposium was sponsored by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) and held in Mountain View, CA, on September 27, 2013.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Bruce Chernoff, CEO of the SCAN Foundation and Chair of the Federal Commission on Long-Term Care, said that we should be thinking not just about disease but about function. “Diseases only gets you half way there. Function is about the quality of life. It’s about how we help our older, valued, community and family members be fully connected. That’s actually a good thing for the medical system.”
Dr. Chernof said that 70 per cent of those over 65 will need some form of long-term services and support and will need it for an average of three years. “This is going to happen to all of us. It’s going to be part of our lives. Most of us are going to need a little bit of help at some point in our lives. We should be working on a solution and the solution is going to be based in the community.”
Dr. Paul Tang, who directs the Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation, focusing on disruptive innovations, told the audience, “the traditional role of health care organizations serving only as sick-care providers ignores the important opportunity to sustain the social and mental wellbeing of seniors. For example, loneliness – perceived social isolation – not only impacts seniors’ feeling of wellbeing, it leads to higher death and disability rates, compared to those who are not lonely.” He cited evidence that seniors who are lonely have a 45% increased mortality rate at 6 years compared to seniors who are not lonely and they have twice the rate of loss of ability to perform normal activities of daily living. Tang said, “PAMF is developing a system we call linkAges to rebuild communities and redefine how seniors age in America. We’re taking a disruptive-solution approach, addressing those social determinants of health that are outside the traditional medical delivery by creating a broad, community-based model to support successful aging in community.”
In an unprecedented commitment by a large health system, PAMF, one of the region’s largest providers of primary and specialty care, has partnered with 17 local nonprofits, neighborhood associations, faith-based organizations, and businesses to offer a community-based response to address non-medical determinants of health and support successful aging. Earlier this year, the linkAges pilot was introduced in the city of Mountain View, CA, which was chosen because it is home to a population of diverse ethnicities and incomes, active partner agencies, a supportive City Council, strong neighborhoods, active faith-based organizations, and a significant senior population. PAMF will be expanding the geographic scope of linkAges in surrounding areas in 2014.