As #OAM19 Winds Down, a Focus on Aligning Care with What Matters to Older Adults

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Yesterday, on the penultimate day of Older Americans Month (#OAM19), I wrote about a “treasure trove” of CMS-sponsored resources on providing better care to older adults.

Today, on the final day of #OAM19, we’re pleased to share that the treasure trove “runneth over!” Age-Friendly Health Systems, an initiative of The John A. Hartford Foundation and Institute for Healthcare Improvement, has a plethora of resources aimed at ensuring that health systems – hospitals, medical practices, etc. – use a set of specific, evidence-based geriatric best practice interventions to improve care for all older adults. The goal of the initiative is to make 20 percent of U.S. health systems “age-friendly” by June 30, 2020. 

While this may seem like a daunting charge, the initiative has made becoming age-friendly easier by distilling it down to four essential elements, known as the “4Ms” framework:

What Matters:
Know and align care with each older adult's specific health outcome goals and care preferences including, but not limited to, end-of-life care and across all settings of care.

Medication:
If medication is necessary, use Age-Friendly medications that do not interfere with the other three “Ms” – What Matters to the older adult, Mobility or Mentation across settings of care.

Mentation: Prevent, identify, treat and manage dementia, depression and delirium across settings of care.

Mobility: Ensure that older adults move safely every day in order to maintain function and do What Matters to them.

And, to make it even easier, the initiative recently published a guide to becoming age-friendly, which helps different types of health systems put the 4Ms into practice. The guide covers everything from setting up an internal team to creating new workflows to measuring success. Of particular interest to us here at the Center are the resources on the “What Matters” element. The guide includes sample language, tips and videos to help providers become more adept in asking their patients what matters most to them, documenting those wishes, and incorporating them in the plan of care.

What matters to older adult patients can include doing the activities that allow them to “Connect, Create Contribute,” this year’s #OAM19 theme. So, we couldn’t be happier that the Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative is helping health systems across the country provide care that enables older adults to continue playing important roles in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks and lives.