Palo Alto Medical Foundation Newsroom

PAMF Event Highlights Successful Aging Initiative

ExploreOn Sept. 27, more than 200 people attended the “Aging and Community Redefined – A Vision for the Future” symposium,  sponsored by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF). Held at The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, the event explored ways that health systems can partner with communities to ensure that seniors can live independent and fulfilling lives in the communities they love.

The event’s keynote speaker, Dr. Bruce Chernoff, CEO of the SCAN Foundation and Chair of the Federal Commission on Long-Term Care, said we should think more broadly than the impact diseases have on seniors. “Diseases only get you halfway there. Function is about the quality of life,” he said. “It’s about how we help our older, valued, community and family members be fully connected. That’s a good thing for the medical system.”

According to Dr. Chernof, 70 percent of people over age 65 will need some form of long-term services and support, for an average of three years. “This is going to happen to all of us,” he said. “Most of us are going to need a little bit of help at some point in our lives. We should be working on a solution based in the community.”

Dr. Paul Tang, who directs the David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation at PAMF, also spoke at the event. “The traditional role of health care organizations serving only as sick-care providers ignores the important opportunity to sustain the social and mental wellbeing of seniors,” he said. “For example, loneliness – perceived social isolation – not only impacts seniors’ feelings of wellbeing, it leads to higher death and disability rates, compared to those who are not lonely.”  He cited evidence that seniors who are lonely have a 45 percent increased mortality rate at six years compared to seniors who are not lonely. They also have twice the rate of loss of ability to perform normal activities of daily living. To help, “PAMF is developing a system we call linkAges that rebuilds communities and redefines how seniors age in America,” he said. “We’re taking a disruptive-solution approach, addressing those social determinants of health that are outside the traditional medical delivery by creating a broad, community-based model to support successful aging in community.”

In an unprecedented commitment by a large health system, PAMF, one of the region’s largest providers of primary and specialty care, has partnered with 17 local nonprofits, neighborhood associations, faith-based organizations and businesses to offer a community-based response to address non-medical determinants of health and to support successful aging. Earlier this year, the linkAges pilot was introduced in the city of Mountain View, CA, which was chosen because it is home to a population of diverse ethnicities and incomes, active partner agencies, a supportive City Council, strong neighborhoods, active faith-based organizations, and a significant senior population. PAMF will be expanding the geographic scope of linkAges in surrounding areas in 2014.

Learn more about the linkAges program.

Media Contact:

Abe Wischnia
Palo Alto Medical Foundation