We’re adding years to our lives. Men can expect to live to age 84.3 and women to 86.6, according to the Social Security Administration. And that’s just an average. About one in four 65-year-olds today will live past 90.
Increased longevity often means that specialized care is part of the picture. To help older adults and those with advanced illness live independently for as long as possible, the North Shore-LIJ Health System is forming the Center for Healthy Aging. Serving seniors and their caregivers, the center will address the complex health needs of this rapidly growing part of our communities.
“We’re working to help patients and their loved ones through difficult parts of their journey, to coordinate care and help find the right care,” said Kristofer Smith, MD, vice president and medical director of Care Solutions, North Shore-LIJ’s care management organization.
The Center for Healthy Aging will encompass several helpful services:
- The House Calls Program, which provides primary and palliative care to homebound patients. “Hospitals are set up to treat acute illness, not to manage chronic disease,” said Maria Carney, MD, North Shore-LIJ’s chief of geriatric and palliative medicine. “Today, people are living longer, with two to four years of disability and situations of chronic illness. It’s a new era, and we need to expand programs to help people get medical care and other resources in their own homes.”
- The Geriatric Medical Group offers comprehensive services that include primary care; medication management; coordination of complex care; immunizations; functional impairment and memory disorder assessments; palliative care; support services for patients, families and care-givers and more.
- Hospice Care Services assist patients, family members and caregivers with the dilemmas of advanced illness or end-of-life care. Patients often are hospitalized during this period, yet many could instead receive palliative or hospice care in the comfort of their own home, in a nursing home or at a hospice facility. “Many people think hospice is for the last few days of life,” said Maureen Hinkelman, chief executive officer of North Shore-LIJ’s Hospice Care Network. “But patients can get hospice care much longer when a doctor certifies that the person has six months or less to live.” New York State patients’ average length of hospice care is eight days — the lowest in the nation. That means these individuals are not getting the full benefit of the comfort this care provides.
- The Resource Network for patients, caregivers and health care providers will extend geriatric and palliative expertise to serve more people in need and collaborate with academic and research colleagues in the health system.
The Center for Healthy Aging’s initiatives will provide necessary social and medical needs for people with advanced illness.
“We want to help people avoid suffering and bring them greater dignity by doing the right thing — and doing what the individuals and their families want,” Dr. Smith said.
Older adults can receive a comprehensive assessment at the offices of the North Shore-LIJ’s Geriatric Medical Group (865 Northern Boulevard, Suite 201, Great Neck, NY 11021). To make an appointment, call 516-708-2520 Monday through Friday.
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