Dr. Kathy Hyer Presents Keynote at Gerontology and Health Industry Conference in Jian, China

Dr. Kathy Hyer Presents Keynote at Gerontology and Health Industry Conference in Jian, China

Dr, Hyer Key Note in China

-- by Henry Trent
At the beginning of September, Dr. Katherine Hyer, professor and director of the School of Aging Studies and president-elect of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA), led a delegation of GSA members to Jian, China. In Jian, a city of 7 million around 275 miles from Beijing, Hyer and the GSA members visited a conference hosted by the Chinese Congress on Gerontology and Health Industry. The conference opening session featured international experts and Chinese national and regional governmental leaders' visions of how to meet the healthcare needs of a growing number of older adults in China.

China's population of older adults is experiencing rapid growth. Currently, China has 240 million adults 60 years of age and older (about 17% of the population). Projections indicate by 2050, almost 35% of the Chinese population (487 million) will be over 60 years of age. The Chinese healthcare system focuses on physicians in hospitals providing primary care, and workforce projections predict severe shortages of trained staff to meet those needs. An important part of the conference discussion was the recognition that nursing, social work, and gerontological training are new areas that require major investment to train a competent workforce to meet needs of older adults.

Hyer presented her keynote entitled "Development and Adoption of Age-Friendly Health Systems in the United States". Her presentation provided an overview of the elements of age-friendly health by describing the factors that contribute to poor outcomes in care for older adults, the development of an age-friendly health system model and how the adoption of evidence-based, geriatric care models and the identification of older adult's preferences helps align safe and consistent care delivery to older adults' preferences. She received a plaque to commemorate her participation in the opening session.

As part of her trip, GSA staff arranged opportunities to give lectures at three Chinese universities. Hyer spoke to graduate health administration students at Shandong University in Jinan, Hangzhou University in Hangzhou, and a mix of undergraduate health profession students at East China Normal University in Shanghai. She lectured on measuring and monitoring long-term care services in the United States. East China Normal University, in particular, was interested in learning more about hospice care and about how services are organized. Hospice care is a new service and Shanghai hopes to create a system of hospice care throughout the city in the next five years.

While she was in China, Hyer was also able to experience the culture, food and countryside. She climbed the Great Wall of China and visited the Forbidden City, and was able to take tours of Chinese nursing homes in three cities.. During these tours she saw a 400 bed nursing home that was part of an acute care hospital. In Shanghai, she visited a nursing home that provided "take out" services to older adults in the community and provided nursing services in homes near the nursing center. Hyer enjoyed these visits and said these service organizations and locations were very different from those in the United States.