November 20, 2023

Bridging the Gap for Independence through Aging Well

Advancements in healthcare continue to redefine the possibilities of treating diseases, but a critical aspect often overlooked is the emphasis on promoting independence among the aging population. “The United States has no coherent system for providing long-term care, leading many who are aging to struggle to stay independent or to rely on a patchwork of solutions,” reports Reed Abelson and Jordan Rau in a recent New York Times article, part of their series on examining the crisis in long-term care called “Dying Broke.” Our country stands at the forefront of medical breakthroughs, yet the pursuit of ‘health and independence’, remains a less explored realm with modern healthcare.

For many aging adults, the realization of this gap became apparent as they faced challenges associated with aging like playing outside with their grandchildren, exercising, traveling, and even cleaning their house. As older people defined this gap, we created HealthyLifetime™ – a short yet impactful program designed to yield lifelong benefits – the solution for people to remain vital and independent by intervening in the early stages of the aging process to keep them in their preferred home settings throughout their lives. Our research has taught us valuable factors that will drive vital, independent living. These lessons are pivotal in revolutionizing the ecosystem of ‘healthcare’ options. We are challenging the existing methods and redirecting the focus towards a more holistic approach to aging well.

While prevention and wellness programs often target a healthier demographic, and conventional chronic and home care services are sought at a time of significant impairment at a high cost with limited availability, HealthyLifetime™ is customized for adults who want to be healthier and remain high functioning throughout their lives.

The population of the United States is approximately 333 million people, with 121 million being over the age of 50, representing 36% of the total population. Despite this demographic shift, the availability of affordable healthcare options aimed at supporting functional independence and overall health remains limited. As we approach the year 2050, a significant 22% of the American population will be 65 or older, posing a crucial question: How will the healthcare industry adapt to meet the evolving needs of this aging demographic?

The healthcare sector is gradually shifting its focus toward the “aging well” population, or those who seek innovative solutions for injury and illness prevention as they navigate through midlife. This midlife phase cannot be understated, as it often marks the onset of chronic conditions. There is an emerging need for the healthcare industry to redefine it’s focus on emphasizing proactive self-management interventions during midlife.

Using virtual technologies, HealthyLifetime™ strives to prevent decline in independence in the midlife/early stages of aging. We offer a personalized, evidence-based approach that fosters functional independence to keep people living in the comfort of their own homes. Our one-on-one nurse health coaching sessions allow participants to gain the knowledge, skills, and guidance to the action steps and lifelong habits needed to meet and sustain their goals. This program is backed on three decades of research conducted at the prestigious University of Michigan School of Nursing. Our researchers were motivated due to years of experience watching people functionally decline. This revolutionary program is unique and has proven to increase participants ability to live independently longer, resulting in dramatic reductions in healthcare costs and other care-related costs.

By Kathleen Potempa, PhD, RN, FAAN
University of Michigan, School of Nursing HealthyLifetime™ Program Executive & Scientific Director

Edited By Hayley Christensen, MBA
University of Michigan, School of Nursing HealthyLifetime™ Marketing Communications Specialist

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