Category: Maximizing Quality of Life

15 - A New National Initiative to Enhance Geriatric Oral Health: Oral Health -- An Essential Element of Healthy Aging

Despite increasing evidence that good oral health is important for overall health and well-being, improving or maintaining oral health in our aging population remains a significant challenge due to multiple potential barriers.  To address this challenge, the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) launched a major initiative titled, “Oral Health:  An Essential Element of Healthy Aging,” with a goal to promote better oral health and quality of life in older adults. It focuses on interprofessional care that recognizes the connection between oral and systemic health and is valued in the health care system.  Fundamental to this effort is the conviction that all stakeholders, not just dental professionals, can be “oral health champions” through advocacy, education, and providing or facilitating direct care that supports better oral health.


GSA first assembled a workgroup of geriatric oral health experts to guide this effort with GSA’s Strategic Alliances and Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration Program.  Key issues impacting oral health for our aging population were first summarized and presented in a special issue of GSA’s What’s Hot newsletter devoted to geriatric oral health.  GSA then convened a national forum of experts and stakeholders to develop an interprofessional roadmap to improve oral health in older adults employing a consensus-building process guided by a professional facilitator.  At this forum, national experts reviewed key trends and developments affecting the oral health of older adults, and small interprofessional workgroup discussions were held to consider and prioritize major research, education, practice, and policy issues and recommendations.  GSA’s Oral Health Workgroup members facilitated the discussions of each workgroup.  Conclusions and most promising solutions identified by each workgroup were organized into a July 2017 white paper titled, “Interprofessional Solutions for Improving Oral Health in Older Adults:  Addressing Access Barriers, Creating Oral Health Champions.”  This presentation will review outcomes of GSA’s Oral Health Initiative, including recommended solutions in research, education, policy, practice, and funding to promote better oral health and improved overall health outcomes and quality of life.  Current and future plans and projects will also be discussed.


 

Stephen K. Shuman

Associate Professor
University of Minnesota School of Dentistry
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Dr. Shuman is Chair of the Oral Health Workgroup, Gerontological Society of America, and Director of the Oral Health Services for Older Adults Program at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. He is also Dental Director of the Walker Methodist Dental Clinic at Walker Methodist Health Center in Minneapolis.

Xi Chen

Associate Professor
University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics

Dr. Chen is a Member of the Gerontological Society of America Oral Health Workgroup and Associate Professor in the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics.

Paula K. Friedman

Professor Emeritus
Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine

Dr. Friedman is a Member of the Gerontological Society of America Oral Health Workgroup and Emeritus Professor and Former Director of the Section on Geriatrics and Gerontology and Geriatric Dentistry Fellowship at the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine.

Elisa M. Ghezzi

Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor
University of Michigan School of Dentistry

Dr. Ghezzi is a Member of the Gerontological Society of America Oral Health Workgroup and Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. She also serves as a dentist with Voiage Portable Dentistry, South Lyon, MI.

Michèle J. Saunders

Adjunct Professor
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Dr. Saunders is a Member of the Gerontological Society of America Oral Health Workgroup and Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Periodontics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Bei Wu

Dean’s Chair Professor in Global Health
New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing

Dr. Wu is a Member of the Gerontological Society of America Oral Health Workgroup. She is also Director for Global Health and Aging Research and Director for Research at the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing, as well as Co-Director of the NYU Aging Incubator.