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What is Age-Friendly Care and Why is This Important?

Age-friendly Care

Age-friendly Care is defined as care that is safe, high-quality, and based on what matters most to older adults as individuals, while promoting a better quality of life.

The focus is on prioritizing what matters to patients, promoting mobility, ensuring medications don’t interfere with quality of life, and managing issues of cognition and mental health, i.e. dementia and depression.

The 4Ms — What Matters, Medication, Mentation, and Mobility — make care of older adults that can be complex, more manageable. The 4Ms identify the core issues that should drive all care and decision making with the care of older adults. They organize care and focus on the older adult’s wellness and strengths rather than solely on disease. The 4Ms are relevant regardless of an older adult’s individual disease(s).  They apply regardless of the number of functional problems an older
adult may have, or that person’s cultural, ethnic, or religious background.

With the population of older adults now at 16% and expected to grow to more than one quarter of all adults by 2060, a new report from the John A. Hartford Foundation and WebMD finds that care of older adults is mired in misinformation, with the majority of patients and caregivers mistakenly believing that sharp declines in quality of life are inevitable.

Driving Towards Age-Friendly Care for the Future, a survey of more than 2,700 patients and caregivers age 65 and older, found a low level of awareness around aspects of care and aging, including the impact of multiple medications, cognitive decline, depression and mobility on quality of life.

Study Highlights:

  • Nearly 40% of patients and caregivers don’t know that certain medications can have cognitive side effects
  • More than 40% incorrectly think that depression is an inevitable part of aging.
  • Over two-thirds of caregivers said that the person in their care has difficulty walking around
  • Half said that they had fallen within the past year.
  • Three in four older adults were not aware that they have the right to ask for, and receive, health care tailored especially to their needs and wants – a concept known as Age-Friendly Carethat could mitigate many of these problems and promote greater well-being among older patients.

“I think that we have enormous complexity in the health care system, so what we have done create a four-M set. What matters to the older individual, medication, mentation and mobility,” said Dr. Terry Fulmer, president of The John A. Hartford Foundation.

“We need to figure out how to work smart in terms of the care that people get.  Listening is so simple and so important,” said Fulmer.