cbcWhen Older Americans Month was established 47 years ago, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthdays.

Today, there are nearly 40 million adults age 65 and older. And when the first baby boomers turn age 65 in 2011 they will become eligible for Medicare. With the aging of the baby boom generation – the largest in our history – the U.S. older population is expected to grow to 71.5 million by 2030.   Will health reform translate into the comprehensive and coordinated care that older adults with multiple health problems need and deserve?

The Campaign for Better Care, a national initiative which launched this spring, is aimed at making sure the answer is yes.  Community Catalyst is proud to be a partner in this new campaign, which recognizes that older adults—those with multiple health problems, in particular—need doctors, nurses and other health providers who talk to each other and work together, along with the patient and their family caregivers, as a team.

This is exactly the kind of approach our friends at the Commonwealth Care Alliance use with their members, all of whom are either older adults or people with complex health needs.  At CCA, members are assigned to a team made up of the primary care doctor, a nurse practitioner, a nurse, and a behavioral health practitioner.  Working together with the member and her family, the team develops a care management plan aimed at enhancing the member’s quality of life.  This approach also serves to avoid medical errors, duplicative tests, and wasted time and costs.

The Campaign for Better Care is advocating at the federal and state levels to ensure that new models of delivering care are patient- and family-centered, team-based, and include important services like:

□    geriatric assessment □    care planning □    comprehensive care coordination □    transition management between care settings □    medication management □    community support for older adults and their family caregivers

It supports payment strategies that support primary care practice and reward better quality, coordination and communication among health providers, patients and family caregivers.

Community Catalyst whole-heartedly supports that agenda, which puts into action many of the recommendations found in our care coordination (pdf) and payment reform (pdf) issue briefs.

So this May, as we celebrate older Americans, I hope that you’ll consider joining a month-long public education drive to spread the word in your networks about the need for better coordinated, patient- and family-centered care.  To learn more and become be an “ambassador” for better care, visit www.CampaignforBetterCare.org.

–Renee Markus Hodin, project director