Project ECHO: Older Adult Care

Program Description:

Project ECHO: Older Adult Care seeks to enhance the capacity of primary care providers, and care coordinators to treat and manage the care of older adults. The curriculum will focus on common and complex issues in the geriatric patient population, including the diagnosis and management of cognitive impairment, agitated and psychotic behaviors, depression, sleep disorders, frailty, functional decline, falls, and polypharmacy.  The importance of working with and supporting caregivers will also be addressed, as will complex care issues involving multiple disorders and social factors affecting wellbeing and function. Program participants will have the opportunity to present challenging patient cases for discussion with a multidisciplinary panel of geriatric-focused faculty from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.  The panel consists of geriatricians, psychiatrists, a pharmacist, social workers, and representatives from Area Agencies on Aging. Instructional presentations and case discussions will stimulate rich conversation and create an environment of group learning. Recommendations to the case presenters will incorporate the most appropriate screening tools, best-practice protocols, and evidence-based resources. This format has been shown to improve providers’ knowledge while building their skills to care for their older patients. The program is offered at no-cost through the generous support of the HRSA Rural Health Network Development Program and the Maine AHEC Network at UNE.

Learning Objectives:

  • Improve assessment skills to more accurately diagnose and treat geriatric patients living with complex conditions specific to older adult populations;
  • Sharpen diagnostic skills of complex neuropsychiatric disorders (e.g. Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, stroke-related cognitive and behavioral syndrome, frontotemporal dementia syndromes, etc.);
  • Increased understanding of the general prognosis of different forms of dementia, allowing patients and families to better plan their future;
  • Learn techniques for managing conditions that are commonly associated with dementia, such as urinary incontinence, falls, depression, insomnia, pain, diabetes, and nutritional deficiencies;
  • Become familiar with methods of managing behavioral issues in patients with dementia and late-life mood disorders, learning both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions;
  • Identify high risk medications and learning skills for “de-prescribing”;
  • Improved knowledge of community resources available for older patients to “age in place” at home;
  • Increase skills in engaging caregivers and reducing risk of caregiver burnout; and
  • Improve skills to help patients and families navigate difficult palliative and end of life decisions.

Intended Audience:

Primary care providers, affiliated care coordinators and other older adult care providers from across Northern New England who provide care to older adults.

Funder Acknowledgment:

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number D06RH31043 Rural Health Network Development Program and the Maine AHEC Network at UNE