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  Loneliness Found to Predict Functional Decline and Death
Jun 18, 2012 Dr. Carla Perissinotto, Dr. Ken Covinsky, and Irena Stijacic Cenzer have published a study linking Loneliness as a predictor of Functional Decline and Death. Published online-first at the Archives of Internal Medicine. This research study has already gaining significant national and international recognition as it further emphasizes the point that psychosocial distress such as loneliness cannot be ignored in older adults. Loneliness is distressing, and it has a clear effect on health outcomes as an independent risk factor for functional decline and death. Dr. Perissinotto is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics. Dr. Covinsky is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics, Edmund G. Brown Sr., Distinguished Professorship in Geriatrics, staff physician at the SFVAMC.

To listen to Dr. Perissinotto's Interview about these findings, click under the Multimedia section of the right menu.

  Dr. Alex Smith is Featured in Healthcare Finance News Article
Jun 18, 2012 Alex Smith, MD was recently featured in an article titled, "Hospice Care Instead of ED Visits Could Improve Quality of Life, Lower Costs" in Healthcare Finance News. According to a new study published in the June issue of Health Affairs, half of adults over the age of 65 visited the emergency department (ED) at least once in their last month of life. In addition, three-quarters of those ED visits led to hospital admissions and more than two-thirds of those visitors died during their stay. The study, which was led by Alex Smith, found that in comparison, the 10 percent of study subjects who had enrolled in hospice care at least one month before death were much less likely to have made an ED visit or died in the hospital. “The traditional focus of the ED is stabilization and triage, not end-of-life care, while hospice provides care specifically for patients with a prognosis of six months of life or less," said Smith. Smith said that hospice care, which is free to everyone enrolled in Medicare, is centered on the treatment and relief of symptoms that are common near the end of life, such as pain, nausea, shortness of breath and confusion. To encourage timely enrollment in hospice care, Smith and the other authors of the study recommend that governments, health care systems and insurers institute policies that encourage physicians to discuss end-of-life care with patients and their families, including reimbursement for advance care planning.

Dr. Smith was interviewed about this study for the New York Times article titled, "At the End, a Rush to the E.R." by Paula Span. Dr. Smith also spoke about the paper at a briefing, funded by the Scan Foundation, in Washington DC at the National Press Club “Focus on the Care Span for the Elderly and Disabled.”

Dr. Smith is an Assistant Professor of Medicine with the Division of Geriatrics and a a palliative medicine doctor at the San Francisco VA.

  Dr. Louise Aronson is Named the Next Lieberman Scholar
Jun 18, 2012 The Division of Geriatrics is pleased to announce that Louise Aronson, MD, MFA, Associate Professor in the Division of Geriatrics, has been selected as the Division’s next Lieberman Scholar. This two-year award will support Dr. Aronson’s project entitled “An Academic-Community Partnership to Identify and Manage Falls and Fall Risk in Asian-Pacific Islander Patients.” Dr. Aronson will showcase the results of her research at a Grand Rounds presentation during the 2013-2014 academic year. The award is made possible by a generous gift to the UCSF/Mt. Zion Center on Aging from the Lieberman family in honor of their father, Dr. Benjamin Lieberman, and to support geriatrics from multicultural perspectives.

  Addressing the Aging Crisis in U.S. Criminal Justice Health Care
Jun 18, 2012 Dr. Brie Williams, Cyrus Ahalt, and Dr. Louise Walter published an article in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society “Addressing the Aging Crisis in U.S. Criminal Justice Health Care.” The population of older adults in prison have more than tripled since 1990. This increase is at the root of a prison healthcare crisis that is spilling into communities and public healthcare systems and straining state and local budgets. The article describes healthcare challenges associated with aging in the criminal justice system, introduces ways that geriatric models of care could be adapted to address the mounting older prisoner healthcare crisis and outlines a research agenda to explore prison-specific models of care for older adults. Co-authors are Dr. James Goodwin and Dr. Jacques Baillargeon from the University of Texas, Medical Branch in Galveston. Dr. Walter is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics. Dr. Williams is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Associate Director of the Program for the Aging Century. Cyrus Ahalt, MPP, is a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Division of Geriatrics.

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