Slashing Budgets Could Cut More Than Just Costs

Ask any mayor, business person, or volunteer coordinator what they’d find most valuable to help their organization grow and their answers would probably focus on a single word: resources. The “three Ts”—time, talent, and treasure—go a long way toward allowing individuals, groups, and even whole communities to operate to their fullest potential. And they’re increasingly important in cases where “demand” must keep up with “supply.”

That’s certainly true for healthcare professionals who are working to keep innovation apace of growth for the older adult population in the U.S. By 2030, the number of people 65-years-old or older in America will exceed 70 million—double the number of older adults in 2000. These men and women will need specially trained professionals who understand how to address the complex healthcare needs of older adults.

Unfortunately, federal budget cuts have impacted not only the number of opportunities for current and future health professionals, but also the research needed to increase and improve our knowledge of aging.

Results of an American Geriatrics Society survey1 reveal how these budget cuts have created serious problems for geriatrics health professionals and the older adults they care for:

  • Job Loss. Nearly 60% of professionals who responded to the survey reported that, in the last five years, federal budget cuts or breaks in grant programs resulted in faculty or research staff lay-offs or the elimination of certain research programs. Specially trained researchers, statisticians, administrative staff, and research nurses were among those most affected. Sadly, these men and women are essential to pushing science and research forward.
  • Investigator Anxiety. The AGS survey indicated that 87% of respondents were also “very” or at least “moderately” worried that funding issues would prevent them from maintaining labs or research programs in the next 10 years. These concerns could discourage experienced and promising young researchers from pursuing careers in geriatrics.
  • Decreased Full-Time Positions. The vast majority of survey participants reported that the number of full-time positions they could offer for people committed to aging research decreased or stayed the same compared to 2008 levels. Little or no job growth can put important advancements at risk and result in fewer young scholars dedicating themselves to working with older adults.

Investments in Aging Research Yield Success
Despite these concerns, federally funded research continues to improve the health of older Americans by creating new models for healthcare, diagnostic methods, and treatment options. Respondents to the AGS survey cited many examples of advances arising from federally funded research, including: Continue reading

Supporting a Healthcare Culture Free From Inequality

Speaker-Shega Joseph1

Joseph Shega, MD              
Director of Hospice and Pallative Medicine Research
Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine
Department of Medicine
University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

I’m pleased to let our readers know about an important new position statement from the American Geriatrics Society focusing on equitable treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals subject to unfair discrimination in health care and society. The statement takes a look at current issues of prejudice due to age, sexual orientation, gender and other personal characteristics that can lead to stigma and discrimination—even in health care. It makes recommendations for better and equal care in the following ways:

  • Advocating policies for equal treatment
  • Training for healthcare professionals on LGBT needs
  • Raising awareness of the unique circumstances facing LGBT older adults
  • Enhancing research supporting the above

Check out this infographic and visit for the press release and the full position statement on how institutions, healthcare professionals, policy makers, and members of the public can help support a healthcare culture free from inequality.

About the Author
Dr. Joseph Shega is a geriatrician and the Chair of the American Geriatrics Society’s Ethics Committee—the group that lead the effort for the development of the “Care of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Older Adults” statement.


HIV: Not Just a Young Person’s Disease


Aroonsiri Sangarlangkarn, MD MPH
Geriatrics Fellow
Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, New York

Did you know that by 2015, fifty percent of people with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) in the United States will be over 50 years old? Or that 17% of new HIV infections happen to older adults?

People living in the 1980s would be surprised to hear these facts. When HIV was first discovered in 1981, we did not have effective medications to treat HIV, and many people died young, soon after they were diagnosed.

The good news is that healthcare has come a long way since then. Today, we have effective medications for HIV, called antiretroviral therapy, and people rarely die from HIV anymore. Now that people with HIV are living longer, we have more and more older adults who have HIV.

The bad news is that we still cannot cure HIV, and aging with HIV is not easy. Chronic HIV infection and long-term effects of HIV medications can lead to other health problems. For example, patients with HIV may be at higher risk for bone loss, making them more prone to getting osteoporosis compared to people without HIV. Osteoporosis is just one of the problems— chronic HIV infection increases risks for many other chronic diseases. It can also carry a stigma that can make it hard for older adults to make new friends or keep their social network.

So, what can you do to protect yourself from HIV as you age? Here are some tips:

Stay updated on safe sex practices: Unprotected sex with an infected partner is the most common way people get HIV.Practicing safe sex is a must. Even if you no longer worry about unwanted pregnancies, you still need condoms to protect you from sexually transmitted diseases, HIV included. If you are recently rejoining the dating scene, make sure to stay up to date with new information on HIV and safe sex practices—information might have changed from the last time you heard about it.

Get more information from’s section on Sexual Health and the Safe Sex Tip sheet.

Get tested: Knowing your HIV status is important, and everyone should get tested. This is because HIV infection is hard to detect without a test.  Its symptoms mimic many other diseases, including symptoms related to advancing age. Moreover, after the initial infection passes, you might not have any symptoms until it is too late.  Untreated HIV weakens your immune system and leaves you open to getting  sick from infections.  Do not wait until it is too late—get tested today.

If you have HIV:

  • Find a healthcare provider and a pharmacy that specialize in HIV. HIV is a complicated disease, so you want to make sure your healthcare professionals have experience dealing with HIV.
  • Take your medications as prescribed. If you do not take medications correctly, your HIV pills may be less effective in the future.
  • Exercise and eat a healthy diet. This helps your immune system stay healthier and keep HIV under control.

Aging with HIV is a new experience, and it is an important topic in medical research. In fact, the American Geriatrics Society has partnered with other organizations to develop a website about HIV and Aging to help provide updated research and treatment guidelines to HIV doctors. Feel free to share this website with your healthcare provider, and visit it often to find out the latest updates on this topic.

Dealing with Delirium: Families Share their Stories

If your loved one suffers a bout of delirium, it can be a frightening and unsettling experience for all concerned. Delirium, a sudden change in mental function, can cause an extreme variety of behavioral changes, ranging from aggressive and agitated to sleepy and inactive—sometimes, even a combination of both.

When delirium occurs after an older person has had surgery, it’s called postoperative delirium. It’s good to know that your hospital’s healthcare providers and your family can work together to help manage and improve delirium, as these family caregivers discovered:

“After he had heart surgery, I noticed that my 86-year-old father was confused and not behaving like himself. Based on the delirium prevention information I found on, I was able to talk with my family and my father’s healthcare team about the signs of delirium and ways we could help my father feel more oriented in his hospital surroundings. We made sure to have family members around him. We read him the newspaper, got him walking, and kept him engaged as much as possible.

I’m pleased to say his recovery has been remarkable. Had his delirium not been addressed so quickly, I know the outcome could have been very different. As a caregiver, I was thrilled to have reliable health information that guided me in asking the right questions of my father’s healthcare providers.”
- Vivien, A Family Caregiver

Continue reading

Get Involved: Live Happier Longer

Coleman, Jessica 4x6Jessica L. Coleman, DO
Geriatrics Fellow
Summa Health System
Akron, Ohio


We all know that volunteering for local organizations is a great use of free time. But did you also know that it can not only improve your mood, but also help prolong your life and prevent memory loss?

Volunteering has been shown to be one of the most effective ways for older adults to stay active, learn new skills, make new friends, and be healthier.

Getting involved in your community can be as easy as heading to your local library to read to children after school, volunteering at your local hospital,or joining a service league in your area to meet others who also enjoy giving back.

Consider some of the following ways to connect with and contribute to your community:

  •  Foster Grandparent Programs: Connect with local children who need the love and support of an older adult to guide or comfort them. Work with troubled teens, young mothers, or premature infants—everyone can benefit from having an involved and caring grandparent.
  • Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs: Using the skills and talents you have gained over a lifelong career, serve as a volunteer in your community rebuilding homes, tutoring, or organizing neighborhood watch programs.
  • Senior Companions: Help keep a fellow senior independent and in their own home by assisting with daily tasks such as shopping or paying bills. You can provide respite for caregivers, family members, and make valuable friendships. Continue reading