Baby boomers’ health needs are booming—and Crozer-Keystone Health System is taking steps to meet them. In June, Crozer consolidated its three Delaware County geriatric health offices into one large location on the Springfield Hospital campus. Called the Crozer-Keystone Center for Geriatric Medicine, it includes four physicians, one physician assistant and a social worker. All doctors are board-certified geriatricians and supply a range of consultative and primary-care services.
The Center for Geriatric Medicine’s new home is adjacent to Crozer’s Senior Health Services, which was established 10 years ago. The award-winning program provides seniors and their caregivers with wellness education. It also serves as an information source for questions about insurance eligibility, prescription drug coverage, transportation, home-delivered meals and nursing homes in Delaware County. The center’s doctors see patients at many of those homes, including the Belvedere, Wallingford Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Lima Estates, and Sterling Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center.
But geriatric medicine is about much more than nursing homes. Crozer’s specialists see patients as young as 50. Most people that age might cringe at the geriatric label, but it’s a medical category. A subspecialty of internal and family medicine, it focuses on the comorbidities that occur in older patients, including hearing and vision loss, high blood pressure, arthritis, and increased risk of heart disease and some cancers.
Seniors are also at risk for developing mental-health issues specific to their age. According to the National Council on Aging, one in four older adults will experience depression, anxiety or another mental disorder. In the coming years, that number will double, as will the number of older adults with substance-abuse problems. The NCA estimates that, by 2020, 5 million seniors will need help with addiction. Currently, two-thirds of seniors with such issues don’t receive proper treatment, and those over 85 have the highest suicide rate in the country.
To provide much-needed care, Crozer created Rejuvenations, a 20-bed inpatient unit at Fair Acres, a skilled nursing facility in Middletown Township that’s run by the county. Care at Rejuvenations comes from a team of physicians who address patients’ physical and mental health. “We have comprehensive internists who specialize in geriatrics doing thorough physical exams, including evaluating the medications patients are taking to see how they interact or interfere with their psychiatric health,” says Dr. Kevin Caputo, chairman and vice president of psychiatry and behavioral health for the Crozer-Keystone Health System.
After a comprehensive analysis that includes diagnostic tests, patients receive a multidisciplinary treatment plan created by a team led by Dr. Adam Glushakow. An average patient stay is 14 days, with the goal of being transitioned to outpatient care. While at Rejuvenations, patients participate in group therapy tailored to geriatric patients. “The rationale is that people do better with people their own age and with their issues,” Caputo says. “An 85-year-old woman who lost her husband and most of her friends might be able to help a 65-year-old man struggling with the same things.”
That’s a marked difference from other nonspecialized psychiatric inpatient units in Delaware County, where adults with separate problems are grouped together. As a result, seniors battling the early symptoms of dementia could be with schizophrenics or cocaine addicts half their age. “Not at Rejuvenations,” Caputo says. “We like the homogeneity this unit provides.”
It’s also centrally located for Delaware County patients, Caputo says. Before Rejuvenations opened, the closest geriatric mental-health care was in Eagleville. “That’s out of county, which isn’t ideal because you want the family involved in care,”
Opened in April, Rejuvenations is already seeing high demand for its beds. Admissions are coming from Fair Acres, which has 900 residents, and other nursing homes. Should Rejuvenations prove effective, Crozer may open other specialized units in Delaware County. No plans are in the works, Caputo notes, but the need for them is clear.