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Neil Resnick

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging Opens Toll Free Call Center to Help the Elderly and Their Families Gain Access to Health Care and Medical Information

PITTSBURGH, January 8, 2003 To assist the elderly and their families through the difficult health care and finance maze, the Institute on Aging, a collaboration of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), has established a toll-free call center.

The 24-hour non-emergency number, 1-866-430-8742, will help callers access services, information and resources both within and outside of UPMC.

The Institute also launched a website, http://www.aging.upmc.com; and access by email is available through aging@upmc.edu.

The opening of this call center comes at a time when the demand for care of the elderly is increasing, said Neil Resnick, M.D., director of the Institute and professor of medicine and chief of the division of geriatric medicine and gerontology at the University of Pittsburgh. The large number of baby boomers are looking for resources and help to care for their aging parents.

Some 13 percent of Americans today are over age 65. But in western Pennsylvania, nearly 18 percent of the regions population is 65 or older. Older Americans represent the fastest growing segment of the population. According to the National Institute on Aging, by 2030 the number of people ages 65 and older will double to reach 70.3 million, constituting 20 percent of the U.S. population.

By contacting the call center, anyone can acquire information on a variety of subjects impacting the elderly. These include specialized clinical care, home care, long-term care, respite and other topics. Patient education material also is available.

The toll-free telephone and website service can help people:

  • Find a physician specializing in geriatrics as well as treatment programs and schedule appointments
  • Learn about specific diseases and treatment options
  • Identify research studies and clinical trials
  • Identify community resources for social services, insurance, housing, transportation and other concerns
  • Learn about programs that provide caregiver support and care coordination for older adults

For instance, the call center can help a person living elsewhere coordinate care for a parent living in western Pennsylvania. It also can provide information on available long-term care options. With this type of information, the caller and parent can consider the many alternatives and discuss them with the parents physicians. A caller may be referred to any of three UPMC geriatric assessment centers. A caller also can receive information about current research studies.

These resources can help the elderly and their families identify doctors, health care programs, research opportunities and social and support services that meet their specific needs, said Dr. Resnick.

The Institute on Agings initiatives include enhancing clinical and basic research on issues related to aging, translating this information into better models of care for the elderly and determining new methods to train health care professionals in elderly care.

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