Employee & Community Health

National Geographic 'aging' segment features ECH

1/11/2016 by Dr. Sarah Crane

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Why do we age? Can aging be slowed? How can we live well while we age? What research is Mayo Clinic doing into the aging process? 

Those were some of the questions asked last spring by a production team led by Oscar-winning director Ron Howard. They spent a week on the Mayo Clinic campus interviewing researchers, physicians and residents of a retirement community exploring the aspects of aging for the National Geographic Channel's series, "Breakthrough."

While the episode focused on Mayo's Kogod Center on Aging and featured gerontology researcher James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., Employee and Community Health (ECH) providers, specialists and patients also played key roles in the program. 

After being faced with a health crises, ECH patients Martha and Ed Kamin discussed quality of life issues with their providers, Dr. Tom Jaeger, Primary Care Internal Medicine (PCIM), and Dr. Paul McKie, their cardiologist with ECH's Integrated Community Specialties. 

Dr. Sarah Crane, geriatrician, was interviewed for the episode and said, "We talked about how, in our conversations with elderly patients, we focus not just on the life span, but also 'health span' to provide them with the information and options to help them with their decision making," she said. "Health span refers to the length of time an individual has which is free of significant disability and is an area where Dr. Kirkland's research has been truly revolutionary. 

"This is a very cutting-edge, visible program, and it was exciting having primary care doctors, an integrated specialist and patients from ECH on National Geographic." 

Crane added that it was a natural for Howard to pick Mayo Clinic, as well as ECH, for the episode. "Mayo Clinic geriatrics is ranked number-one in the country. We take excellent care of patients, a lot of research is conducted here, and there's also a wealth of writing and publishing on the subject, much of it coming out of our primary care practices," she said. 

"Many members of the team worked to make the filming happen, but this is what we do with and for our patients every day." 

"The Age of Aging," which was aired November 29, is the last in the six-episode "Breakthrough" series and the only one directed and hosted by Howard, whose directing credits include the films Cocoon, Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind, for which he won an Academy Award. Series episodes can be streamed via the National Geographic Channel's website

In addition to his patient care and education of both medical students and internal medicine resident physicians, Dr. Thomas Jaeger, Primary Care Internal Medicine (PCIM), serves as medical director for the Employee and Community Health (ECH) Anticoagulation Clinic. 

Dr. Sarah Crane is an internist and geriatrician in PCIM as well as the Practice Chair for ECH.