HOUSTON – (Jan. 23, 2017) – Members of the Consortium on Aging at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) are leading the work on a two-year planning grant to identify and prevent elder mistreatment, including abuse and neglect.

Carmel Dyer, M.D., executive director of the UTHealth Consortium on Aging and the Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Chair in Gerontology, serves as the principal investigator leading the Texas team, whose work is supported by a recent $240,000 award from The John A. Hartford Foundation in partnership with ECD. Jason Burnett, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, serves as co-investigator.

“We are pleased to be selected to join a national team of experts addressing elder abuse to ensure that our older patients seen in hospital settings, including emergency rooms, will be assessed for potential mistreatment and receive appropriate treatment and referral,” said Dyer, who is also the Nancy P. and Vincent F. Guinee, M.D. Distinguished Chair in Gerontology. “We have the experienced interprofessional faculty and necessary community partnerships in place to be a national leader in the development of model programs such as this. Elder abuse represents a complex and growing problem that must be addressed for our aging population.”

The UTHealth project coordinators are based at Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. The team of faculty members from McGovern Medical School at UTHealth includes John Foringer, M.D., chief of internal medicine; David Robinson, M.D., chief of emergency medicine; Mohammad Zare, M.D., chief of staff for ambulatory care services; Jessica Lee, M.D., House Call geriatrician; Garima Arora, M.D., psychiatrist; and Stacey Mitchell, D.N.P., M.B.A., adjunct faculty to the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine from Harris Health System.

EDC will serve as a coordinating center for UTHealth and three other teams participating in the program to develop, test and evaluate a model of intervention to assess and address elder mistreatment. Other partnering sites include the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, and Weill Cornell Medicine. Following the initial planning phase supported by this current funding, the second phase will include implementation, program design, evaluation and national dissemination. 

Rebecca Stoeckle, vice president for health and technology for EDC, said, “More than 3 million older adults have experienced some form of abuse, and the incidence of elder mistreatment will almost certainly surge as our population ages. The John A. Hartford Foundation has taken a leadership position in calling for a public health response to elder mistreatment. With their support, we will work to translate the research results on elder mistreatment into a coherent, practical model of care that will transform real-world practice at scale.”

EDC designs, implements and evaluates programs to improve education, health and economic opportunity worldwide. The John A. Hartford Foundation, based in New York City, is a private, nonpartisan philanthropic organization dedicated to improving the care of older adults since 1929.

UTHealth Consortium on Aging was created in 2010 to leverage the strengths of UTHealth faculty expertise across the university’s six schools along with community collaborators – all sharing a common goal to better serve Houston’s older adults.  Elder abuse is one of the key areas of excellence for members of the Consortium on Aging. For more information, visit https://www.uth.edu/aging/.

Written by Bryant Boutwell, Dr.P.H.