WebMD/JAHF Surveys Older Adults and Their Caregivers Highlights Opportunity of Community Collaboration

A new survey of more than 2,700 older patients and caregivers from The John A. Hartford Foundation (JAHF) and WebMD assesses opinions on Age-Friendly Health Care, which require attention to what matters to the older person and their caregivers in order to ensure high-value care resulting in consumer satisfaction.

The good news is that 87% of the more than 2,700 respondents to the Driving Towards Age-Friendly Care for the Future survey of older adults and family caregivers report satisfaction with the care they have received in the past 12 months. This high satisfaction, however, has some caveats.

For instance, it decreases as a patient’s health becomes more complicated and the number of health conditions increase. This may indicate that, as patients are engaging more with the health system, their needs are not being met. Satisfaction levels also differed in the survey by race/ethnicity. Specifically, Hispanic respondents were more unhappy with their care than White and Black respondents.

In addition:

  • More than 40% of respondents believe depression is an inevitable part of aging;
  • Three in four older adults are not aware that they have the right to ask for, and receive, health care that is tailored to what matters to them;
  • Nearly 40% of respondents did not know that some prescription medications can impact cognition.

The survey underscores the importance of the Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative, a national movement led by JAHF and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the Catholic Health Association of the US, which is helping hospitals and health systems provide age-friendly care that focuses on the “4Ms.”

This also highlights the opportunity of health systems to partner with their surrounding communities to address “what matters” to older adults.

The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative is working to align community-based Age- and Dementia Friendly initiatives with this corresponding movement at the hospital and health system level. Springfield, Mass. was the first in the nation to see an Age- and Dementia Friendly Community recognized alongside Baystate Health as an Age-Friendly Health System.

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