Our Focus on Aging
More than 10,000 Baby Boomers in the U.S. have been turning 65 every single day since Jan. 1, 2011. In 1990, one in eight residents of Santa Clara County was over age 60. By 2010, that ratio grew to one in six. By 2030 the number of people over 65 in the US will double and more than one in four county residents will be over age 60.
The vast majority of the rapidly growing senior population express the desire to age independently in place in their homes and communities. But most older adults face diverse challenges in successfully sustaining this goal, including increased social isolation, difficulty accessing existing community resources that support their ability to age in place, and increasingly complex health issues.
The David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation acts to invent, catalyze and deploy breakthrough innovations as a partner in advancing the health and wellbeing of communities. Our work leverages technology to create scalable population-based solutions to address pressing health challenges of our time.
As part of this work, we chose to focus on aging and the impacts of the coming Baby Boomer retirement wave.
Today, traditional health care for seniors is characterized by essential medical interventions, fragmented services, high cost and suboptimal outcomes. It ignores critical aspects of quality of life that significantly impact health, particularly social and behavioral determinants.
In the current healthcare system, more than 50 per cent of Medicare spending is represented by ten percent of the frail elderly population. That same group represents nearly 80 per cent of the roughly $92 billion in acute care Medicare costs reported in 2010. linkAges adopts a disruptive innovation approach to focus on creating communities that support wellbeing for the additional 90 percent of the older adult population. With our rapidly aging population, improving comprehensive wellness and creating a delay in the need for acute care usage could potentially lead to dramatic cost savings in healthcare.
Since quality of life and the health of individuals and communities are interrelated, the next-generation health system must reinvent itself as a community partner to change not only the health behaviors of individuals, but also the health environment of our communities.
Our new initiative, the linkAges System, focuses on the non-medical determinants of health and will create a community-based network of intergenerational connections among seniors, family caregivers and the broader community through the following system capabilities:
- Understand and help realize the senior’s quality of life goals, taking into account social, emotional and psychological factors, needs and preferences expressed within a personal context.
- Leverage personalized knowledge of the senior to preempt situations leading to adverse, acute life events.
- Offer personalized access to updated community resources for both seniors and family caregivers.
- Engage communities to support a senior’s ability to stay socially engaged and maintain a sense of purpose and value.
- Advocate for policies that support family caregivers and aging in place.