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January 29, 2016
Vol. LXVIII, No. 3

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Grady Discusses Aging’s Effects on Society

Dr. Patricia Grady
Dr. Patricia Grady

National Institute of Nursing Research director Dr. Patricia Grady recently spoke at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. The meeting’s theme was Aging: Complexities, Opportunities and Impacts on Society.

Grady participated in the panel Our Aging Society: Influences, Interventions and Impacts, which addressed the economics and demographics of aging, health disparities and inequalities, as well as biological influences on aging.

She discussed challenges and opportunities related to health care and caregiving among the elderly. She noted that a significant amount of caregiving for the elderly in the United States is provided informally, often by family members. Such care is an important component of a system to help the elderly age in place. However, caregivers can face stressors that affect their own health, as well as that of those they care for. Grady discussed new technologies and other interventions—such as caregiver training and methods of stress management—that could help older adults age in place and enhance quality of life.

She stressed that clear communication will remain essential for reaching the elderly and their caregivers. It is vital, she noted, that we “communicate health messages in very clear, very plain language, in ways that will reach all populations, so that care will be improved for everyone.”

During the panel discussion, Grady responded to a query about issues of financial security and their impact on caregiving for the elderly. She discussed low-cost interventions, such as easy-to-access programs where caregivers and patients can get information and ask questions, noting that such programs can help reduce costly and time-consuming appointments with health professionals.

Grady also touched on issues of the health care workforce, including shortages in caregivers and the effects of education on patient morbidity and mortality. Her remarks can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnkThgxt3_c.

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