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During our 50-year history, researchers at IFAR have discovered that many of the characteristics associated with aging can be traced to mechanical, physiological, and biochemical functions, as well as environmental factors. Here are some of our innovations that have transformed senior care during the past 50 years:

  • IFAR research established supportive housing as an alternative to nursing homes, a discovery that initiated a new model of care in the U.S. The concept led to better living conditions for seniors and alleviated the extensive wait lists for costly long-term care.
  • All U.S. nursing homes are legally required to use the Minimum Data Set (MDS), developed at IFAR, for clinical assessment of residents’ functional capabilities. The MDS helps nursing home staff gather information about a resident’s health, needs, and strengths to determine the best care plan.
  • A joint study in which IFAR participated and conducted with Hebrew Rehabilitation Center residents showed that seniors at any age can build muscle strength through weight training. Today, exercise programs are an integral part of many long-term care and senior living communities and senior service organizations.
  • The largest preventable cause of death among older adults is falls. IFAR Director Dr. Lewis A. Lipsitz has identified preventive interventions such as medication adjustments, treatment of high blood pressure, and walking after meals.
  • IFAR’s research into the impact of Vitamin D to increase bone density and reduce falls established an optimal Vitamin D dosage, which has become the international standard. 
  • IFAR research has led to important changes in the standards for end-of-life care, including Medicare hospice care coverage for patients with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease. And IFAR’s work has had direct clinical impact on the care of patients with advanced dementia and their families by reducing the use of treatments such as feeding tubes and antibiotics that research has shown do not prolong life and cause discomfort and stress for patients.