Thomas Cudjoe

Thomas Cudjoe
Location: Baltimore, Maryland Cohort Start Year: 2016 Project Topic: Elder Care Population Served: Older Adults (65+)
Post Doctoral Fellow
The Johns Hopkins University, Department of Medicine: Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology

Both of my grandfathers are now deceased, but the memory that permeates my mind for each of them is our walks together. Our simple walks shape my vision of what health is and how I envision weaving health into the fabric of our society. The experiences with these two men compelled me to pursue medicine, public health and the care of older adults. They taught me how optimizing mobility and social engagement are essential for physical and mental health, and how our elders are community treasures who are often undervalued. As a geriatrician in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, I am very interested in facilitating relationships that will enable older adults to be more engaged in their communities and have better health.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Seek Solutions to Reduce Social Isolation Among Older Adults
Approximately one in four older adults is socially isolated, which creates risk factors for morbidity and mortality. Older adults with limited social connections likely account for $6.7 billion in annual Medicare spending. Cognitive decline, depression, and functional limitations have each been associated with social isolation. Low-income older adults have two times the odds of experiencing social isolation as those with higher incomes. These older adults increasingly rely on low-income housing, (i.e., subsidized senior apartments) and are more likely to live alone and have higher rates of chronic conditions compared to their higher-income counterparts. In view of this, focusing on improving social connections is critical to improve the physical and mental health of older adults living in low-income housing. Solutions to address social isolation have been unsuccessful due to insufficient community engagement. There is currently no widely disseminated, rigorously evaluated solution that focuses on social connections to improve the physical and mental health of this population. Great potential exists to intentionally improve the social connections in this population due to geographic proximity, presence of common space, and existence of organizing infrastructure (e.g., resident councils). In this proposal, we will engage approximately 15–20 key informant interviews from around the country as our first step in developing a new solution.

I am a doctor for older adults who believes that the transformation of our nation’s health will occur in the community. I believe that my medical knowledge, public health training, and experiences as a caregiver for my grandparents positions me to develop and disseminate strategies to sustain and improve the well-being of older adults.

Click here to watch Thomas’ Legacy Project video.