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Rural Health Care

December 10, 2007

Why Elder Care?

Many trends in the region demand a proactive effort to address Western New York's capacity to serve the unique needs of a growing elderly population. Like the nation and state, the region's population is rapidly aging, with the frailest elders - those age 85 and up - growing faster than any other age cohort in the region. The issue is further complicated by the special needs of groups within the elderly population, including people of color, developmentally disabled, and rural seniors. Current care systems are overwhelmed, yet few resources are available to invest in community alternatives to high-cost, institutional care for this population. Moreover, the region lacks a coordinated approach to educating consumers on issues of aging and long-term planning. Other regions are preparing for the challenges related to providing quality care to the elderly. Models range from neighborhood networks that provide basic care and services so that the elderly can remain in their homes, to Medicaid pilot programs that compensate family for providing elder care. What can we learn from these models to improve our region's performance?


Juergen H. A. Bludau, MD, CMD, Acting Clinical Chief and Director of Clinical Geriatric Services, Division of Aging, Brigham and Women's Hospital
A board-certified, fellowship-trained geriatrician, Bludau is a professor at Harvard Medical School and Nova Southeastern University. His interests include the primary care of dementia patients, the development of improved geriatric services, and the transition of care between hospital and long-term care facilities. He and his approach to care were prominently profiled in the April 30, 2007 New Yorker article entitled "The Way We Age Now." Born in Germany, he received his medical degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and completed his postgraduate studies in the United States. Bludau is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Gerontological Economic Research Organization in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. Prior to his current appointment, he served as the Medical Director of an academic geriatric center in South Florida. He resides in the Boston area with his wife and their three children.

Philip B. Stafford, PhD, Director, Center on Aging and Community, Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana University
A cultural anthropologist, Stafford has been instrumental in developing a wide range of programs for older persons and elder-friendly communities. He is a senior consultant with the AdvantAge Initiative, a national project that supports community planning for aging in 15 U.S communities. His focus areas, on which he has published numerous articles, include culture and dementia and the meaning of home for older people. Stafford is currently managing a U.S. Administration on Aging-funded statewide demonstration planning grant for the Indiana Division of Aging. He is a founding board member with the Foundation for Alzheimer's and Cultural Memory. In February 2007 he convened an international group of scholars and practitioners in Bloomington to explore the relationships between memory and place and the potential use of new technologies to sustain community memory and fight the forces of forgetting. He received his BA from the University of Chicago, and his PhD from Indiana University.

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