Given that Pennsylvania is second only to Florida in the size of its geriatric population, it’s not surprising that many hospitals are carving out centers to help them cope with they myriad problems of aging. The breadth and magnitude of senior services at UPHS earned it 21st place in the nation for geriatrics in the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings. The Ralston Penn Center is a beehive of clinical activity, with board-certified geriatric physicians, nurse practitioners and social workers delivering primary care in the full spectrum of problems to which the elderly are especially prone — arthritis, balance, depression, diabetes, hypertension, memory loss, osteoporosis and urinary issues. The Truman Schnabel House Calls program takes the exceptional care into the living rooms of housebound patients. The Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit at Penn Presbyterian, one of the first in this rapidly growing concept, is a home-like, specially designed and equipped mini-hospital where older adults receive care tailored to their medical problems and special needs. Particular attention is paid to the physical and psychological deterioration that often accompanies hospitalization. The Penn Memory Center, spanning diagnosis, treatment, basic research and clinical trials, is the only Alzheimer’s disease center in Philadelphia that’s supported by the National Institute on Aging. This is an excellent resource for the evaluation of a loved one showing signs of memory loss, confusion, personality change or early dementia. The Sleep Disorders Clinic for Seniors treats medical conditions that interfere with a good night’s rest — and Penn is so in the forefront in research that it wouldn’t be surprising if a cure for Alzheimer’s or a breakthrough understanding of what causes the deterioration of brain cells in Parkinson’s disease came from these labs (3615 Chestnut Street, 215-662-2746, pennhealth.com/geriatrics).
Several standout programs gained Jefferson Geriatric Health 30th place for geriatric care on the U.S. News list. Among them are the Inpatient Palliative Care Consultation Service, which supports families, patients and medical providers with pain management, expectations and realistic care goal in dealing with advanced chronic illness. The Health Mentors Program requires medical, nursing, and occupational and physical therapy students to spend a minimum of eight visits over two years with geriatric care providers and their patients. A partnership with the Philadelphia Senior Center gets primary geriatric care to its residents. The respected Geriatric Education Center trains a variety of health professionals who work with seniors to better understand and deal with this group’s specific needs. The Geriatric Psychiatry Program assesses behavior and memory changes in seniors and runs an innovative 26-bed inpatient unit (on the eighth floor of Wills Eye Hospital) that uses a multidisciplinary approach with a variety of gerontologists (psychiatrists, neurologists, nurses, social workers) to treat age-related conditions such as memory loss, depression, anxiety and delusion, and is the only such facility in the region with a separate section for with advanced dementia. Its research arm, under geropsychiatrist Barry Rovner, conducts clinical studies on depression (900 Walnut Street, 800-JEFF-NOW, jeffersonhospital.org/psychiatry).
Since 1999, the Muller Center for Senior Health at Abington Memorial Hospital has been refining and adding excellent programs. Many emphasize community outreach and education, such as APPRISE, a free health-insurance counseling service; the ElderMed program and the ElderHelp hotline; a Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) to provide hospitalized elderly with cognitive stimulation, nutrition, physical function and friendly visits; Operation Reassurance, which checks on people over 60 without a social network, so they can feel safe living alone; and Stop Abuse in Later Life (SAILL), combining treatment, counseling and support groups for the physical, sexually or emotionally abused or neglected. Along with these programs, there are medical and psychiatric assessments and recommendations for the physical and emotional issues of older adults (2510 Maryland Road, Willow Grove, 215 481-5640, amh.org).
The Senior Support Line (800-KKHS-KEY) provided by Geriatric Care at Crozer-Keystone Health System can help an elderly man with arthritis who’s looking for a personalized exercise plan, or a working woman looking for daycare for her demented father. Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) helps seniors throughout Delaware County cope with memory loss, depression, pain, decreasing physical function, nutrition and medication by customizing medical care, emotional counseling and social-work services. And for those over 65 who have an acute illness or injury requiring hospitalization, the Acute Care of Elders (ACE) unit makes stays shorter and more comfortable and helps patients return home to function independently. There are also supervised wellness programs, at a sports club in Springfield, and adult day centers (100 West Sproul Road, Springfield, 610-338-8200, crozer.org).