Research Highlights

Research Highlights

  • Early studies paved the way for the development of supportive housing communities by demonstrating that many seniors waiting for a long-term care bed could be better served by a new model of community-based care in congregate housing. Hebrew SeniorLife's 985 units of supportive senior housing reflect that research.
  • Studies conducted in the early 1990s were the first to dispel the myth that muscle weakness cannot be reversed in older adults, by showing that weight lifting can increase muscle size and strength in seniors as old as 100 years of age, leading to HSL's widely emulated exercise programs for nursing home residents and community-dwelling seniors.
  • Social scientists developed methods to determine the medical, social, physical, and emotional needs of disabled seniors, which led to a formal resident assessment system that is now required by law in all U.S. nursing homes and has been adopted by 27 countries around the world.
  • Cardiovascular studies discovered that many older adults experience drops in blood pressure after meals, or when standing up, that can precipitate dangerous fainting spells and falls. Medication adjustments, the treatment of hypertension, and exercise after meals can prevent many of these debilitating occurrences.
  • Research on osteoporosis has shown that nutrition plays an important part in maintaining healthy, strong bones. These findings suggest that many older adults are vitamin D deficient and determined the optimal dose of vitamin D to drastically lower the number of falls and fractures.
  • Studies on end-of-life care reduced the pointless use of feeding tubes for patients with advanced dementia, substituting them with hand feeding; improved the management of pain; and encouraged the use of hospice benefits for Alzheimer's patients.
  • Groundbreaking work on the aging brain has identified the causes, consequences and treatment of the confusional state called "delirium" that commonly occurs in seniors during an acute illness or after receiving medications or surgery. Programs to prevent delirium in the hospital and post-acute care facilities have been developed and tested by the Institute's investigators, and are now being used at HSL and nationwide.

Find out more about the Institute for Aging Research.

For more information about making a donation to the Institute for Aging Research, please contact:

Jenique A. LeBlond
Sr. Director of Development, Research
1200 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02131
781-247-8154
JeniqueLeBlond@hrca.harvard.edu

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