Policy brief introduces Triggers of Decline model

As a funder in the aging sector, we are focused on improving the health of  older adults and ensuring that they can lead a dignified, independent, high quality life in their community.

To identify the factors that that have the potential to trigger frailty or functional decline in vulnerable older adults living in the community, we partnered with the Syracuse University Aging Studies Institute to develop a new “Triggers of Decline” conceptual model.

As explained in a new policy brief “Identifying Interventions to Address Triggers of Decline in Vulnerable Older Adults” published in April 2016, triggers of decline are events that precipitate a decline in physical, cognitive, or mental health for other­wise healthy older adults living in the community.

These triggers are more than the risks older adults face individually, like poor mobility, malnutrition or chronic illnesses. They can also result from challenges older adults face in the context of their families and communities, such as weak social networks and caregiver stress, within the health care system, and at the societal level, including lack of transportation and medication mismanagement. These triggers can occur suddenly or they can build over time, and they often overlap and compound one another.

Each trigger in the model represents a potential intervention point that can be used to identify at-risk populations of older adults and develop evidence-based practices to address that risk and prevent the onset of frailty.

The policy brief, authored by Maria T. Brown, LMSW, Ph.D., assistant research professor, Syracuse University Aging Studies Institute and Kara Williams, senior program officer, Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, includes recommendations that policy makers and practitioners use the model to improve data collection about at-risk populations, as well as to guide development and measurement of strategies to address those risks and the onset of frailty.

“Our foundation wants to understand the needs of older adults and we want to support organizations that can provide the right services to meet those needs. By identifying the triggers of decline, we can work to prevent the triggers of decline and help older adults stay healthy and independent longer,” Health Foundation President Ann F. Monroe said.

To read the brief, click here.