Age-friendly healthcare: A necessary investment in healthy ageing

Age-friendly healthcare: A necessary investment in healthy ageing Age-friendly healthcare: A necessary investment in healthy ageing

Healthcare systems are struggling to meet older people’s needs. Across the care continuum, testimonials from older people and caregivers reveal gaps in acute care alongside complex continuing care and long-term care. These gaps highlight a fundamental flaw – healthcare systems are not age-friendly.

Rarely do healthcare systems capture the intricacies of ageing in a way that does justice to the experience, relying predominately on medical knowledge that ends up painting only half a picture of an age cohort that have rich histories often reflected in diverse and complex healthcare needs. Dr Mike Martin is an expert in ageing and gerontology and can speak to necessary changes needed in health care to reflect older people’s needs.

In response to this issue, collaborative efforts from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the John A Hartford Foundation have resulted in an Age-Friendly Health System movement. According to Forbes, “the Age-Friendly Health System describes itself as a movement to recruit and support entire healthcare systems to focus on the domains most important to quality healthcare for older people. These include the “4Ms”: mobility, medications, mentation, and what matters.”

Integrating the 4Ms across the healthcare continuum has already begun, with the hope that twenty percent of US hospitals will be engaged in this initiative by 2020. Dr Ruth Finkelstein is an expert in planning, implementation, and evaluation of systems-level aging initiatives with availability to discuss age-friendly health systems. There is significant opportunity, the Forbes article notes, to revitalize healthcare to meet the needs of older people, and to engage older people themselves in designing systems that meet those needs.

Creating age-friendly environments remains important to healthy ageing, and diverse communities and systems are recognizing the need to become age-friendly as central to their progress. This includes the International Federation on Ageing, where the Age-Friendly Innovation Exchange newsletter strives to share age-friendly information through a variety of media. Head over to the website to sign up.