Ten thousand people turn 65 every day in America. That number will more than double over the next 40 years.

The statistics don’t scare UC Davis Health. The reality motivates providers, researchers and clinicians to plan for the inevitable in a way that creates the healthiest and highest-functioning older adult population in Northern California due to health system’s care, research and innovation.

Launched in early 2020, the Healthy Aging Initiative builds on a solid foundation of geriatric work already in place and moves it forward from the older-adult perspective. Co-led by Stephen Cavanagh, dean of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, and Allison Brashear, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, the initiative brings UC Davis Health closer to being age-friendly across the enterprise.

“By putting the older person and their family at the center of our programs, and building out from there, we will be sure that care is tailored to address what is most important to each person,” Cavanagh explains.

In 2021, the geriatric emergency department unit earned designation as an Age-Friendly Health Systems participant, on track to full excellence recognition. UC Davis Medical Center earned early membership in the NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) program signaling the organization’s commitment and continued progress toward improving quality and enhancing the patient and family experience.

Also launched is the Healthy Aging Clinic, where an interdisciplinary team provides comprehensive services that preserve the functionality and independence of older-adult patients, while at the same time supporting their family caregivers.

Moving forward, the age-friendly approach will expand into other areas of clinical care, as well as research led by the internationally recognized Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the Family Caregiving Institute, a global broker of conversations on how to support the more than 40 million U.S. caregivers and beyond. Also in development are educational opportunities for nursing and medical students, including a geriatric fellowship not offered until this initiative.

Satake leads NICHE membership

Anna Satake

When UC Davis Health committed to improving health for those 65 and older, Anna Satake seized the opportunity to lead with her expertise in elder care.

Satake is a geriatric clinical nurse specialist at UC Davis Medical Center and fourth-year doctoral student at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. She leads the health system’s membership efforts in the NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) program of The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University College of Nursing. NICHE membership demonstrates organizational commitment and continued progress toward improving quality, enhancing the patient and family experience throughout the health system.

“By ensuring we have the knowledge and systems in place to create a more senior-friendly health system, we can help to decrease the potential risks and complications that older adults may encounter when hospitalized,” says Satake.

Satake and her team anticipate gaining full membership in early 2022.