Patients of every age find care and comfort at UCLA. But as the baby boomer generation grows older, meeting the needs of the elderly takes on particular urgency. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of Americans 65 and older will more than double from 46 million today to 98 million by 2060.
That’s a daunting figure, and it makes the recent $5 million pledge from James Collins ’50 and Carol Collins to endow a fund for geriatric medicine at UCLA especially important. Since meeting as undergraduates, the two have been staunch advocates for UCLA, including supporting its work with older adults.
Advancing Powerful Programs
One immediate priority is enhancing current programs that provide care and support services. For example, the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program has developed personalized care plans for nearly 2,700 individuals with the disease, reducing nursing home admissions, behavior issues, and patient and caregiver depression. Another successful initiative is Generation X-change, which engages older volunteers in South Los Angeles classrooms. In addition to benefiting young students, this program helps volunteers reduce blood pressure, weight, and loneliness while making new friends.
Investing in Research and Workforce
The Collins fund also will back innovative research and replicate proven programs beyond UCLA. It also will expand the professional pipeline, strengthening the university’s fellowships, residencies, and training programs for future geriatricians. Such education is essential: According to the American Geriatrics Society, fewer than 250 fellows completed geriatrics programs nationwide in 2016–2017.
From volunteer leadership to more than 55 years of giving, the Collins family has advanced UCLA’s mission of education, research, and service. Their latest gift will support all three to help a burgeoning group of Americans.
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Published June 2019