What is healthy aging?

The OHSU Healthy Aging Alliance seeks to answer this question through partnerships, discovery, education, and outreach. We engage in translational research to truly change the aging trajectory toward health and quality of life. Care of older adults is best done in teams- so we have taken a team approach to our research and training needs too. 

"OHSU is highly regarded for its expertise in aging," explains Elizabeth Eckstrom, MD, MPH. "We must now align these strengths to plan for the future increase in aging patients and the jump in diseases related to aging. Specifically, our mission is to strategically plan research to meet the needs of our seniors, find new ways to make sure the results of our research influence the care of our aging patients, and offer new training opportunities to help Oregon clinicians prepare for this significant change in their patient population. "

Henryk Urbanski, PhD, DSc, adds: "The integration of basic and clinical research programs with health care delivery and education significantly increases the speed with which new discoveries can be translated into safe and effective therapies for the elderly."

The OHSU Healthy Aging Alliance came together in late 2009 to build a translational research home to address the gaps that currently exist between innovative aging research related to understanding the biology of aging, and care delivery for the population, including addressing the needs for scientific and technological innovation that are necessary to improve the quality of life. Approximately 60 researchers and clinicians are currently involved in the Healthy Aging Alliance, and we are growing! We include partners from the basic sciences, clinical and translational research, policy makers, older adults, and many more.

Aging statistics

In 2030, nearly one in five U.S. residents is expected to be 65 and older.

This age group is projected to increase to 88.5 million in 2050, more than doubling the number in 2008 (38.7 million).

The 85 and older population (total, U.S.) is expected to more than triple, from 5.4 million to 19 million between 2008 and 2050.

Oregon milestones for healthy aging

1981 - Oregon received first national waiver allowing for home and community-based services under Medicaid

  • Allowed for Medicaid coverage for services provided in assisted living, adult foster care, or in-home care
  • Helped increase the availability of alternatives to nursing home care, resulting in Oregon having one of the lowest rates of nursing home care nationally

1987 - Oregon statute amended to allow RNs to delegate nursing tasks to unlicensed persons, facilitating more care to be provided in community-based settings.

Late 1980s - initial development in Oregon of assisted living model of care