2017 | Q1 Newsletter | Q & A with Health Advisory Council Member
Vice President, Health Programs, Alliance for Aging Research
Q. Please discuss your work at the Alliance for Aging Research and how it relates to the Alliance’s overarching mission.
A. The Alliance for Aging Research is a leading non-profit dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. Our goal is to advance innovation that supports the health care needs of older Americans and their caregivers, through targeted Federal advocacy and educational initiatives. As the Vice President of Health Programs at the Alliance, I oversee our educational initiatives and campaigns that focus on diseases and conditions that disproportionately impact older Americans. We do this by educating and empowering the patient, their caregivers, and their healthcare professionals with a wide variety of resources including brochures, films, websites, tip sheets, workshops, and traditional and social media campaigns.
Q. How long have you been at the Alliance for Aging Research, and what do you love most about your job?
A. I have been with the Alliance for more than a decade and yet my job still offers daily opportunities to learn new things, work with new partners, and produce and share resources in different ways. We often get involved in an area because we have found that older adults are having a different experience than younger patients. This means that we are often tackling new areas of medicine, policy, and healthcare. We are also fortunate at the Alliance because we work with so many amazing organizations and individuals through coalitions like the Health Advisory Council and in our partnerships to create and share content. And because technology and media are changing so rapidly, we find new ways to reach our audiences on almost a daily basis. I am also very lucky to work with an amazing team that supports and challenges me.
Q. What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the Alliance for Aging Research today?
A. We are very excited at the Alliance about the tremendous ongoing efforts focused on empowering patients and making care more patient-centric. Our educational initiatives focus not only on providing patients with what they need to be educated partners in their care decisions, but also on breaking down barriers in the clinical experience that keep older patients from getting the treatment and care that they need. This is becoming increasingly challenging as our population ages. Currently around one in seven Americans is age 65 or older. Americans age 65+ take an average of 27 prescriptions, in large part because 80% of them have multiple chronic conditions. Managing care and involving patients and their caregivers will only get more complicated as this population explodes.
Q. What Alliance for Aging Research initiatives would you like to share with the Council?
A. The Alliance has been doing a lot of work in the area of geriatric cardiovascular disease. This past February 22nd we hosted the first-ever National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day, which was officially recognized on the HHS National Health Observances Calendar, supported by a resolution (H.Res.146) introduced by U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), and celebrated throughout the country. We started this campaign after we found in a national survey that 3 out of 4 people know little to nothing about heart valve disease. More information is available at www.ValveDiseaseDay.org.
We also launched a campaign during AFib Awareness Month last September to help patients and healthcare providers better understand AFib-related stroke risk, and celebrate every year lived with a non-event. We are aware that older AFib patients at heightened stroke risk often don’t receive the treatment they need due to fears of frailty and falls. This campaign at www.YearWithoutaStroke.org seeks to change the conversation about stroke risk reduction in AFib.
We are also continuing to produce “pocket films” on a variety of topics from venous thromboembolism, to safe use of OTC medications, to vaccination in older adults. Our pocket films are short, animated films that take dense and often intimidating medical information and make it more accessible for older adults and their caregivers. The films can be found online at www.youtube.com/allianceforaging and have been viewed by tens of millions through our outreach campaigns.
Q. What does the Alliance for Aging Research value about membership in NCL’s Health Advisory Council?
A. The Health Advisory Council offers us great opportunities to discover and nurture critical collaborations and partnerships, and keeps us informed about timely issues in health advocacy and education.