National Program Encourages Age-Friendly Health Systems

National healthcare organizations have announced expansion of a program to assist hospitals in caring for an aging population.

The 4M Model for Creating Age-Friendly Health Systems is geared towards the current 46 million Americans age 65 and older – a population that is projected to double to more than 98 million by 2060. Older patients have complex health needs that make their medical care challenging, including side effects and adverse drug interactions from multiple medications, and changing care preferences that favor staying at home and prolonged independence. This 4M Model focuses on:  What Matters, Medication, Mentation, and Mobility.

Age-Friendly Health Systems, an initiative of the John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the Catholic Health Association of the United States, involves proven practices that hospitals can adopt, including, among other things, age-friendly medications; a renewed focus on identifying and managing depression, dementia and delirium across care settings; and ensuring that older adults at home and in every setting of care move safely each day to maintain function. This program aligns with MHA’s recent work that resulted in guidance for developing an operational plan to address diagnosis and care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in hospital settings.

Five U.S. health systems, including Trinity Health, are testing this new approach in hospitals as well as in long-term care, ambulatory, and post-acute settings. Several Massachusetts hospitals are enrolled in the program and there is the opportunity for more hospitals to join the Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Community which begins in April 2019.  More information is available at ihi.org/AgeFriendly.