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About the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology & Palliative Care

At the University of California San Diego, we have the best of both worlds — fantastic physicians trained to provide comprehensive care to older adults and researchers developing a greater understanding of the aging process and how we can optimize our later years in life.


Welcoming Palliative Care to our Division

We are pleased to announce that the palliative care team here at UC San Diego has joined our division! The Doris Howell Palliative Care Teams at UCSDH began in 2005 with a nurse practitioner co-rounding with the Bone Marrow Transplant service. Now they represent three inpatient consultation teams, the Step Family Foundation Inpatient Palliative Care Unit, a Palliative Psychiatry team, and a growing clinic team which all strive to function in an interprofessional, shared-leadership model of providing care. They provide specialized, team-based care focused on the relief of symptoms and stress of serious illness at any stage of disease. The palliative medicine faculty come from a variety of backgrounds and many have additional shared appointments in other divisions and departments, such as nephrology, neurology, and hospital medicine, but we will be their home. They also bring along with them a large, shared physician fellowship program that trains seven palliative medicine fellows each year as well as the only Chaplain training program in the country housed within a palliative care group. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, their clinic has been a top adopter of community telehealth, which they anticipate to be a major area of expansion for them over the coming years.


What is Geriatrics?

Geriatrics care is Medicine Plus (+)! Geriatrics specialists focus on comprehensive health care, ranging from general preventive care to specialized care needs. Our geriatricians address the whole person, including an emphasis on maintaining a person's level of functional independence for frail older adults and improving their quality of life. As we get older, our health care needs change, so it's ideal to work with a physician who has special training in keeping older adults healthy.

Tailored Care for Older People

Our geriatricians understand the unique, and often complex, needs of older people and they aim to keep people healthy and high functioning as they age. We believe in providing quality care to the individual - knowing what are appropriate and not appropriate screenings and treatment options for individuals, not only based on their age, but also their functional capacity, their support systems, and most importantly, their individual wishes. Our faculty provide clinical care to older adults in a variety of settings, including primary care, hospital, geriatric psychiatry, in-home, skilled nursing, palliative and hospice care, and specialized dementia care.

Building an Age-Friendly Health System

UC San Diego Health is participating in the national Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative, an initiative of The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the Catholic Health Association of the United States. As part of the initiative, UC San Diego Health is implementing a set of evidence-based interventions designed to improve care for older patients known as the "4Ms": What Matters, Medication, Mentation, and Mobility. Read the press release: UC San Diego Health Part of National Initiative to Improve Senior Patient Care.


What is Gerontology?

Gerontology is the study of the aging process and aging individuals. It goes beyond health and disease and addresses other elements of our older population and the aging experience (emotional, social and economic needs, etc…), along with how society views aging.

Geriatrics and Gerontology are two disciplines that largely go hand in hand. Taking a broad perspective on quality of life, addressing the needs of the whole person (and often a person's family), and evaluating community resources, have always been a foundation of the work we do! Geriatrics and Gerontology are also both very multidisciplinary - often relying on a team approach and perspectives from multiple areas of expertise!

Educating Others

We strongly believe that sharing our passion and educating others about the specific needs of our aging population is a high priority. UC San Diego has a variety of training programs focused on not only educating the next generation of doctors, but also the current health care work force, including other practicing physicians, nurses, and social workers, and other researchers. We have established partnerships with several local community organizations to expand our training efforts and we co-lead a Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with San Diego State University.

Advancing Research

As the region's only academic medical institution, we are bringing the latest in research and clinical medicine to the care of older adults and are collaborating with multiple researchers here at UC San Diego. Research into the aging process may be our most powerful tool for maintaining our health and quality of life in older age, whether it be understanding basic mechanisms of aging in the laboratory setting or determining methods for providing high quality dementia care in the community.