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Office of Geriatrics and Interprofessional Aging Studies

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SUNSET Program Available Now

SUNSET is a distance education program provided by the Office of Geriatrics and Gerontology.  It is designed to provide greater knowledge in end of life care for those working in long-term care and other settings where families and loved ones are dealing with some of life's greatest challenges.  Each SUNSET Module is unique, and the content for each covers a specific topic related to end of life care. We invite you to visit the SUNSET Program to learn more about its content and to register to complete modules at your convenience.

Begin Aging Studies in 2009/2010

Are you a student interested in serving the agingpopulation?  Do you know of a colleague who would like topursue aging education?  If so, please take a few moments tolearn more about the GraduateInterdisciplinary Specialization in Aging. TheSpecialization in Aging is available to all graduate andprofessional students at Ohio State.  Now is the time to planto integrate the Specialization in Aging coursework into your planof study.  After reviewing the information at the link above,contact Linda Mauger at linda.mauger@osumc.edu to begin yourinvolvement in this comprehensive aging education experience.

New Health Literacy Distance Education Program Available

Low health literacy is a serious threat to the well being of patients seeking medical care, and ultimately to the stability of the healthcare system…..36% of Americans struggle to understand and act on health information.

The Ohio State University AHEC Health LiteracyDistance Education Program offers comprehensive professional development and continuing education in the field of health literacy.  The program has been developed by Dr. Sandra Cornett, Director of the OSU/AHEC Clear Health Communication Program, and a national leader in health literacy training, in collaboration with the Office of Geriatrics and Gerontology.

The OSU/AHEC Health Literacy Distance Education Modules are appropriate for physicians, nurses,therapists, counselors, and all health practitioners providing direct or indirect patient care.

The Health Literacy Distance EducationProgram is available at NO COST to faculty, staff and students atOhio State.


Our Aging Society

The Alzheimer’s Association’s newly released 2009 report of Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures should be of interest to all of us.  Following are a few excerpts from the report:

Younger man and older adultAlthough dementia can be caused by various diseases and conditions, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, and currently an estimated 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease.  Further, one in eight people aged65 and older (13%) have Alzheimer’s disease and every 70 seconds someone in America develops the disease.  By mid-century, someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds.

While these statistics are startling and the suffering associated with the disease is most often heart breaking,the costs to families, the health care system and the long-term care system are equally concerning.   Almost 10 million unpaid caregivers cared for loved ones in 2008, which equaled 8.5billion hours of unpaid care at a value to our country of $94billion.

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia is often very difficult, and many family and other unpaid caregivers experience high levels of emotional stress and depression as a result.  Caregiving also has a negative impact on the health, employment, income and financial security of many caregivers.

Because those 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease utilize health care and long-term care services to a greater degree, Medicare and Medicaid costs are considerably increased for this portion of the population.  In2004, Medicare payments to those over 65 with Alzheimer’s disease were three times higher than payments to those without Alzheimer’s ($15,145 compared to $5,272 per person); and Medicaid payments were $6,605 compared with $718 per person.

To learn more about this devastating disease,travel to the Alzheimer’s Association to view the 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report.

We invite you to also review the National Alzheimer’s Strategic Plan whichsounds the warning, “Alzheimer’s disease poses a graveand growing challenge to our nation.  Many experts alreadyrecognize that Alzheimer’s will severely affect the lives ofmillions of Americans who either suffer from this disease or carefor someone who does. Less appreciated are the grave economicconsequences that Alzheimer’s disease, with its cumulativecosts, will impose on the country. Unless we take decisive actionnow, the Alzheimer’s crisis could very easily surpass eventhe current economic crisis in the damage it inflicts onindividuals and our economy."


Traditional Hospital Care vs. ACE Units for Geriatric Patients

Woman being comforted in bedAre you aware that 30% of geriatric patients experience a decline in their functional level due to hospitalization, and that less than 50% of these patients return to their prior level of function upon release from the hospital?

These are real and concerning statistics,which should be of interest to all who care for older adult patients and/or family members.

Today’s traditional and costly acute care model promotes dysfunctional outcomes in many ways – use of restraints, multiple medications, numerous procedures,confusion/delirium and falls, which all lead to increased mortality and morbidity.

There may be an alternative.  The ACE model (Acute Care for Elders) has been introduced in approximately100 hospital locations across the country and ACE benefits are being realized through improved ADL function; decreased discharges to long-term care; patient, nurse and physician satisfaction;decreases in restraint use; and cost control.

Under the ACE approach, patients at risk for decline are identified upon admission and are followed by an interdisciplinary team of care providers.  The interdisciplinary team may include the geriatrician, geriatric clinical nurse specialist, patient nurse and patient care coordinator, social worker, physical and/or occupational therapist, dietician, pharmacist, home care coordinator, spiritual support,and others.  The ACE team provides feedback and consultations for improving care, providing personalized health care for our most vulnerable patients.

Aside from the important improved patient outcomes, studies have documented true cost savings to health systems who have implemented ACE Units.

For further discussion and insight into ACEUnits contact Dr. Gowrishankar Gnanasekaran at gowrishankar.gnanasekaran@osumc.edu and read the article from the John A. Hartford Foundation titled, "Redesigning Hospital Care to Prevent Functional Declinein Older Adults: The ACE Unit Innovation."


New Office of Geriatrics and Gerontology Web Site

We invite you to visit the new Office of Geriatrics and Gerontology web site at http://ogg.osu.edu to learn about aging education opportunities at OSU and other initiatives of the Office. This newsletter is one of those efforts and we invite those with aging news to contact us anytime to share aging-related information that could become part of the newsletter. Additionally, if you are a faculty member involved in aging teaching and/or research, we would like to include your contact information in the "Faculty in Aging" section of the website.   It is our hope that this listing will help you connect with those who share your interest in the field of aging and foster collaborations that are essential to this interdisciplinary field of study and practice.  Please contact Linda Mauger at linda.mauger@osumc.edu if you would like further information.

NIA-Funded Study of Family Dementia Caregiving Stress

Couple holding handsLed by Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, OSU researchers are conducting a study funded by the National Institute on Aging. Prior research from this group has demonstrated that caregivers have poorer responses than non-caregivers to influenza and pneumonia vaccines, they heal wounds more slowly, and they may have accelerated aging associated with inflammation. This study will examine genetic, psychological, and immunological differences between people who are providing care for a spouse or parent with a memory disorder and people who are not caregiving. Men and women who are caregivers for spouses or parents with memory disorders or dementias (such as Alzheimer's disease) can earn $40 for research participation that includes a blood draw and 3-4 hours of interviews and questionnaires about one’s recent and lifetime history of stress, key life changes, and health. For a detailed study description, visit the web site:  www.stressandhealth.org, send an email to stressandhealth@osu.edu, or call 292-0386.

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