Improving Care for Older Adults

Hal Atkinson, MD, provides chief residents and fellows with a valuable lesson: how difficult it is for older patients to keep track of what medications to take and when. “At least 40 percent of patients in almost any specialty will be over 65,” Atkinson says.

As part of the Geriatrics Principles for Specialists (GPS) program, a weekend-long program, each participant is given several bottles filled with placebo pills and a strict regimen of which pills to take when. The exercise emphasizes to doctors some of the challenges faced by older adults. It’s a valuable lesson—since 2010, only one individual has followed the assigned regimen correctly. This simple yet effective exercise helps demonstrate the critical and growing need to continue educating health care providers about treating older patients.

This program, created with and sustained by philanthropic support, continues to give invaluable perspective to physicians that will benefit patients for generations to come.

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