Dartmouth Centers for Health and Aging

Director: Ellen Flaherty, Ph.D., APRN, AGSF

Homepage: https://www.dartmouthaging.org/

The Dartmouth Centers for Health and Aging at the Geisel School of Medicine (formerly the Center for Aging), housed in the Department of Community and Family Medicine, was established in 1992 with the receipt of the Herman O. West Endowment and the allocation of Program Development Funds (PDF) from the Office of the Dean. The Dartmouth Centers for Health and Aging represents, in part, a successful "spin-off" of the NNE CO-OP PCBRN's research and demonstration projects. It aims to improve the quality of life for northern New England's more than 350,000 elderly, by fostering research, education, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

The Center serves as a catalyst for the continuing improvement of the care of the elderly. The goals of the Center for the Aging are to:

  • improve care delivery to the elderly and contribute to the body of research on the care of the elderly
  • develop collaborations and partnerships to share information
  • expand educational opportunities to the Dartmouth community and beyond

By design, the Center devotes a significant portion of its resources to institutions and persons customarily considered outside the domain of a medical center. The Center's primary focus is to build networks and collaborate on projects that improve geriatric care. The Center's success depends on close collaboration with northern New England's universities and state agencies, as well as with home health agencies, hospitals, nursing homes, policymakers and community-based organizations.

Care Delivery
Perhaps the most significant and representative research project to improve the care of the elderly has been demonstrated with the "Community Centers of Excellence for the Aging." (CCEA) Since 1993, the John A. Hartford Foundation has supported this project and its successors to create better partnerships between patients and their doctors by enhancing better communication, educating patients about their health, increasing physician awareness about the health needs of their patients, and responding to unmet needs... ultimately improving the quality of life for the elderly. Using the NNE CO-OP PCBRN's Clinical Improvement System as well as the "Improve Your Medical Care" questionnaire the intervention has yielded positive results. Eighty percent of patients believe that the quality improvement approach has improved their health and that their clinicians have become more aware of important and otherwise unmet patient needs. More patients are aware of preventive measures, such as flu shots, and many patients now have advance care plans. There is improved knowledge about home health hazards and about the importance of keeping track of medication. Patients who have begun to exercise say that they feel much better.

The Center has formed solid relationships with health care providers and organizations in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Its efforts to improve the care of the elderly have strengthened communication among the leaders of aging programs at the Universities of Vermont, Southern Maine, and New Hampshire and representatives of the 3-state governments. Ongoing collaboration has led to the development of the Northern New England Partnership in Aging. As a result, the academic collaborators work jointly as a component of the Harvard Upper New England Geriatric Education Center (HUNEGEC). Related projects include:

  • Development of innovative approaches to improve information quality and utility about long-term care, through the development of a uniform dataset across NH, VT, and ME. The Commonwealth Fund and New Hampshire's Health Care Transition Fund have supported this project to develop and test a brief, standard data system for monitoring the health of the States' aged populations in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Virginia.
  • Creation of newsletters and symposia on Aging activities both at Dartmouth and in the community
  • Development of a speakers bureau comprised of health care professionals who speak to community organizations on aging issues and geriatrics

More than one thousand physicians, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses have participated in community-based geriatric educational programs in the three states. Educational topics included the care of persons who have less than one year of life expectancy, the management of geriatric emergencies, and the assessment of cognitive problems.

Educating doesn't only pertain to trained medical professionals, but also to friends and family. The Centers for Health and Aging offer classes and seminars, open to the public. Courses and Seminars have included such topics as:

  • Common Over-the-Counter and Dietary Supplement Issues in Older Adults
  • Stroke Alert!
  • Maintain Your Strength
  • Be True to Your Teeth or They Will Be False to You
  • Hearing Loss and the Savvy Hearing Aid Consumer
  • Try it Before You Buy it: Hearing Loss Assistive Device Demonstration
  • Parkinson's Disease Questions and Answers
  • Living Better with Vision Loss
  • Pain in the Brain: Brain Health and Healing after a Head Injury
  • How Do I Find Reliable Health Information Online?
  • We Need to Talk. . . Family Conversations with Older Drivers
  • Who Are Your Allies?
  • NH Medicaid Questions and Answers
  • Advance Care Planning: A Thankful Thoughtful Gift for Your Family
  • Worried about Your Aging Parents?
  • Why Do I Feel Like the Caboose on a Runaway Train?
  • Understanding Depression in Older Adults
  • Tell Me Your Story
  • 'Tis the Season: How to Beat the Winter Blues
  • Self-Compassion: Why Beating Yourself Up Does Not Work
  • Alzheimer's Disease: Legal and Financial Issues and Answers
  • Understanding Dementia
  • Coping with Early Memory Loss
  • Coping with Changing and Challenging Behaviors
  • Caregiver Grief: Unrecognized and Suffered in Isolation
  • Jeanne Anderson Alzheimer's Conference
  • Essential Skills for Alzheimer's Care Series: Introduction to Alzheimer's
  • Essential Skills for Alzheimer's Care Series: Safety and Environment
  • Essential Skills for Alzheimer's Care Series: Communication
  • Essential Skills for Alzheimer's Care Series: Behaviors
  • Don't Let Your Next Slip be a Fall!
  • My Children are Worried About Me
  • "Brown Bag" Medication Review
  • Coping with Adult Onset Hearing Loss
  • Laughter Therapy
  • You Have The Right To Remain Hopeful!
  • Protecting Your Loved Ones from Financial Exploitation
  • Whose Decision Is It? Legal and Financial Issues and Answers
  • Side By Side for Independent Living: Meeting Caregiver Needs - Supports for the Support Person
  • Side By Side for Independent Living: Understanding Depression in Older Adults
  • Side By Side for Independent Living: Coping with Changing and Challenging Behaviors
  • Savvy Caregiver
  • Hearing Loss Film, Discussion, and Assistive Technology Demo
  • Reduce Stress & Build Harmony: Listening Skills and Vital Tactics
  • Memory Loss and Brain Health
  • What's Spirituality Got To Do With It?
  • Sleep and Aging: Still Counting Sheep
  • A Matter of Life & Verse: Writing Poetry
  • Finding Balance: Tai Chi in the Gallery
  • Financial Health in Your Retirement
  • Family Love Letter
  • Funeral Planning
  • From the Other Side of the Stethoscope (monthly lunch with medical students and older adults)
  • Common Over-the-Counter and Dietary Supplement Issues in Older Adults
  • Senior Slumber: How to Maintain Healthy Sleep with Age
  • Preparing for Major Surgery in Later Life
  • Healthy Eating for One
  • Living Well with Diabetes
  • Be True to Your Teeth or They Will Be False to You
  • One, Two, Three - Healthy Cooking for You and Me
  • Adaptive Gardening: How to Garden for Life
  • What's New about Aging Knees: Getting Up to Speed on Osteoarthritis Before It Slows You Down
  • Is Incontinence on Your Mind?
  • Managing Medical Care Appointments
  • Keep Your Mind Sharp!
  • Living with Alzheimer's: For People with Alzheimer's
  • Understanding Dementia
  • Caregiver Boot Camp: Skills Training for Caregivers of Older Adults
  • Spirituality and Health Series
  • Over 60 and Single: How to Avoid Isolation and Loneliness as Life Changes
  • Mindfulness for Wellness
  • Why Gratitude is Good Medicine!
  • Benefits and Services for Aging Veterans and their Spouses
  • Understanding Long-Term Care Options
  • Start the Conversation
  • Senior Fraud Prevention: How to Keep Your Money and Identity Safe from Theft
  • Social Security and You
  • Vermont Senior Solutions Question and Answer
  • ServiceLink of New Hampshire Question and Answer
  • Crafts and Conversation (weekly)
  • A Matter of Life & Verse: Writing Poetry
  • Tai Chi, Moving for Better Balance
  • Rehab Wellness Exercise Class
  • Parkinson's Wellness Class

Support Groups:

  • Alzheimer's Disease Education and Support Group - (2 x per month, ongoing)
  • Caring For Another, Caring For Yourself Support Group - (2 x a month, ongoing)
  • Change & Possibility Support Group - (2x a month, ongoing)
  • When Someone You Love Has Died - (weekly for 8 weeks)
  • Stroke Support Group - (monthly, ongoing)
  • Memory CafĂ© - (monthly, ongoing)