Team approach to healthy aging

With Canada's rapidly growing elderly population, the secret to healthy aging and compassionate care lies in teamwork.

Ryan O'Byrne - 16 September 2019

"It's all about team," said Jean Triscott, professor of family medicine who founded one of Canada's first Care of the Elderly divisions at the University of Alberta 16 years ago. "And that team includes community partners."

Here are a few ways teamwork is supporting healthy aging in our province.

The U of A's Medically At-Risk Driver Centre, led by Bonnie Dobbs, research director for the Division of Care of the Elderly, is helping rural communities develop practical transportation solutions for seniors.

Family medicine associate professors and members of the Edmonton Oliver Primary Care Network, Jasneet Parmar and Lesley Charles (director, Care of the Elderly) are revolutionizing the way health professionals assess the decision-making capacity of seniors in Edmonton and across the province with a new assessment toolkit that aims to keep seniors safe at home for as long as possible.

Winners of the Top Frailty Innovation of the Year award from the Canadian Frailty Network, Marjan Abbasi and Sheny Khera co-created the Seniors' Community Hub (SCH)―a community program that transforms primary care into a central hub to better meet the dynamic health and social needs of older adults.

SHAPE (Supporting Healthy Aging by Peer Education), led by geriatric physician Adrian Wagg in the Department of Medicine, is a unique health program delivered peer-to-peer among seniors, focusing on heart and bone health as well as nutrition, physical activity and social engagement to empower preventive health behaviour.

The results? Improvements to chronic-disease management and quality of life, maintenance of patient independence and the alleviation of family and caregiver burden. Teamwork is clearly paying off.