February 2006 MedBytes: Aging on the Web

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More and more patients are surviving serious illnesses, such as heart attacks, and experts say these patients are going to place tremendous demands on the health care system. The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services says the average life expectancy for women is now 82.9 years. For men, it's 81.3 years. Consequently, long-term care will become an increasingly vital health care concern. Below is a sample of sites on the World Wide Web that provide information about the challenges of caring for an aging population.

Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS)
Established in September 2004, the agency's mission is to provide a comprehensive array of aging and disability services, supports, and opportunities that are easily accessed in local communities. The department predicts that most Texans will require DADS services in the next 20 years. A list of services can be found online at  www.dads.state.tx.us, which includes a link to the department's Aging Texas Well (ATW) program. The program helps ensure that Texans prepare individually for aging in all aspects of life and that state and local infrastructure - laws, policies, and services - support aging well throughout the lifespan. In addition to an overview of aging, the ATW program includes five steps that guide leaders to help their communities age well.

American Geriatrics Society
The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is the premier professional organization of health care providers dedicated to improving the health and well-being of all older adults. With an active membership of more than 6,800 health care professionals, AGS has a long history of effecting change in the provision of health care for older adults. In the last decade, it has become a pivotal force in shaping attitudes, policies, and practices regarding health care for older people. Its site,  www.americangeriatrics.org, is designed to provide information to geriatrics health care professionals, the public, and other concerned individuals dedicated to improving the health, independence, and quality of life of all older people.

Alliance for Aging Research
Founded in 1986, the nonprofit Alliance for Aging Research is a citizen advocacy organization that strives to improve the health and independence of Americans as they age. The alliance advocates for more research dollars to go to age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and Parkinson's disease, as well as better scientific understanding of the aging process. It also sponsors the Paul Beeson Physical Faculty Scholars in Aging Research Program, the largest nongovernmental fellowship award to stimulate research, teaching, and practice of geriatric medicine in the United States. The alliance's site,  www.agingresearch.org, provides information about the latest aging research, links to health topics that affect the elderly, an opportunity to sign up for the alliance's free quarterly webzine, and links to other aging-related resources on the Internet. The alliance also has brochures specifically for health professionals and online special reports.

Instituteof Medicine  (IOM)
A nonprofit organization created for science-based advice on matters of biomedical science, medicine, and health, the IOM was chartered in 1970 as a component of the National Academy of Sciences. The institute's site,  www.iom.edu, provides unbiased, evidence-based, and authoritative information and advice concerning health and science policy to policymakers, professionals, and the public at large. Categories of interest are organized on the home page and include topics such as Aging, Healthcare and Quality, Public Health and Prevention, and Minority Health. The site also provides information about current IOM projects and provides visitors with the chance to subscribe to IOM News , a free, bimonthly e-mail newsletter.

American Society on Aging
The American Society on Aging (ASA) is an association of diverse individuals bound by a common goal: to support the commitment and enhance the knowledge and skills of those who seek to improve the quality of life of older adults and their families. The membership of ASA ranges from practitioners, educators, administrators, policymakers, business people, researchers, students, and more. The association's publications can be accessed online at  www.asaging.org. Site visitors can also sign up to receive ASA Connection , a free e-mail newsletter. There are also links to both national and state aging organizations, additional information on a variety of aging topics, and a community events calendar.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest toTexas physicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site. If you know of some interesting medical sites or have questions about how to use the TMA Web site, email Erin Prather. Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the Texas Medical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.  

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