Patient Care

Eastman Institute is First in U.S. to be Named an Oral Health Age-Friendly Health System Participant

May. 25, 2023
Older adult in dental chair

Eastman Institute for Oral Health’s Specialty Care Clinic is the first oral healthcare provider in the nation to be recognized as an Age-Friendly Health System Participant.

Because the U.S. population aged 65 years and older is expected to nearly double to an estimated 83.7 million in 2050, experts say health systems are not equipped to reliably provide evidence-based practice to older adults at every care interaction.

Designed to tackle this critical issue, the vision is to have all healthcare providers become Age-Friendly Health Systems by following an essential set of evidence-based practices that align with what matters to the older adult and their family caregivers.

patient in wheelchair lift at Eastman Dental
Eastman Dental's special equipment allows wheelchair users to lean back, allowing better access for the dentist.

Today, there are 3,000 U.S. healthcare providers, including the University of Rochester Medical Center, who are recognized as Age Friendly Health Systems, an initiative of the John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the Catholic Health Association of the United States.

Becoming an Age-Friendly Health System entails reliably providing a set of four evidence-based elements of high-quality care, known as the 4Ms, to all older adults. These include what Matters, Medication, Mentation, and Mobility.

“Older adults face many challenges when it comes to optimal oral health,” said Szilvia Arany, DMD, MSBA, PhD, director of Geriatric Oral Health at Eastman Institute for Oral Health. “For example, medications can cause dry mouth, which increases the likelihood for tooth decay, infection and gum disease. Also, arthritis often limits mobility and the ability to effectively brush.”

Eastman Institute for Oral Health has been a leader in treating older adults for years, providing care at nursing homes throughout the community, training dentists how to address their unique needs, and engaging in relevant research.

Dr. Arany has been working in close collaboration with Annette Medina-Walpole, MD, chief, UR Division of Geriatrics & Aging, and Thomas Caprio, MD, director of The Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center, since 2020 when she became the first dental recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Dean’s Teaching Fellowship to develop an innovative educational approach in alignment with the AFHS structure. She was also funded by The Division of Geriatrics and UR Aging Institute as a Geriatric Faculty Scholar.  

Dr. Szilvia Arany

“Eastman Institute for Oral Health is committed to serving all patients without compromise,” said Eli Eliav, DMD, PhD, EIOH director. “We take pride in this recognition because it reflects our faculty’s dedication and forward thinking while preparing the next generation of oral health providers in this important area.”

“Thanks to Dr. Arany’s leadership, Eastman Institute for Oral Health is leading the way in making sure that every day, every older adult receives age-friendly oral health care,” said Dr. Caprio. “All of our patients deserve safe, high-quality health care based on what matters most to them as individuals and delivered reliably in every setting.”

The four M’s, described in greater detail below, help ensure high quality care for older adults, taking into consideration the unique and complex needs of older adults.

· What Matters: Know and align care with each older adult's specific health outcome goals and care preferences including, but not limited to, end-of-life care, and across settings of care.

· Medication: If medication is necessary, use Age-Friendly medication that does not interfere with What Matters to the older adult, Mobility, or Mentation across settings of care.

· Mentation: Prevent, identify, treat, and manage dementia, depression, and delirium across settings of care.

· Mobility: Ensure that older adults move safely every day in order to maintain function and do What Matters.

For more information, visit: Guide to Using the 4Ms in the Care of Older Adults, and Eastman Institute for Oral Health Specialty Care Clinic