Adults aged 65 and older will account for 20% of the U.S. population by 2030 and the health care workforce must be ready to care for them by having sufficient numbers of providers with specialized training.
Older patients generally have multiple and complex medical needs. They react differently to medications. Their independence and quality of life are often threatened by functional impairments and memory changes. Clinical research focuses on younger adults in the 40-50-year age range, leaving a significant gap of knowledge for those 65 years of age and older.
Of the 650,000 physicians practicing in the U.S., fewer than 9,000 are geriatricians – or 2.4 geriatricians per 10,000 elderly persons. Fewer than 3% of medical students choose elective courses in geriatrics. Likewise, there is a growing demand for nurses with specialized training in caring for the elderly, as well as dentists and pharmacists who understand the unique needs of the older person.
The Consortium on Aging was established to lead UTHealth in meeting the challenge of providing quality health care for the growing elderly population in Houston. The Consortium is a university-wide collaborative effort that leverages the existing strengths and expertise of all the UTHealth schools, including the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Public Health, Biomedical Informatics, and Biomedical Sciences. Focusing on aging-related interdisciplinary care, education, research, and community outreach, the role of the Consortium is to foster collaboration among the schools and centers of UTHealth with the goals of:
- Enhancing the geriatric knowledge and skills of health care students and providers and promoting coordinated, patient-focused care by interdisciplinary teams
- Finding innovative strategies for training health care students and practicing providers in geriatrics
- Facilitating aging-related research and the advancement of gerontology.
The Consortium on Aging is guided by the following principles:
- Interdisciplinary focus and outreach
- University-wide integration
- Service to a diverse community
- Best practices of geriatric care
- Mentoring of new geriatrics faculty members
- Collaboration with Houston agencies and organizations