Cathy Alessi

VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Ángeles, California, United States

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Publications (96)408.95 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Objectives To investigate the association between pain and functional independence in older adults during and after admission to rehabilitation after an acute illness or injury. DesignProspective, observational cohort study. SettingOne community and one Veterans Affairs rehabilitation center. ParticipantsIndividuals aged 65 and older admitted for rehabilitation after an acute illness or injury (postacute rehabilitation) (N=245; mean age 80.6, 72% male)). MeasurementsPain was assessed using the Geriatric Pain Measure (GPM, score 0-100). Functional independence was measured using the motor component of the Functional Independence Measure (mFIM, score 13-91). Both scores were obtained at admission; discharge; and 3-, 6-, and 9-month follow-up. In bivariate analyses, discharge GPM and persistent pain (lasting >3months) were evaluated as predictors of mFIM score at 9months. Applying a multilevel modeling (MLM) approach, individual deviations in GPM scores were used to predict variations in mFIM. ResultsAt admission, 210 participants (87.9%) reported pain (16.3% mild (GPM<30); 49.3% moderate (GPM: 30-69); 22.1% severe (GPM>70)); 21.3% reported persistent pain after discharge. The bivariate analyses did not find statistically significant associations between discharge GPM or persistent pain and mFIM score at 9months, but in the MLM analysis, deviations in GPM were significant predictors of deviations in mFIM score, suggesting that, when individuals experienced above-average levels of pain (GPM > their personal mean GPM), they also experienced worse functional independence (mFIM<their personal mean mFIM). Conclusion Twenty-one percent of older adults undergoing postacute rehabilitation reported persistent pain after discharge from rehabilitation. The bivariate analysis did not find association between pain and functional independence, but MLM analysis showed that, when participants experienced more pain than their average, they had less functional independence.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
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    ABSTRACT: To make scientifically sound and practical recommendations for daily sleep duration across the life span.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Examination of predictors of late-life cognitive functioning is particularly salient in at-risk older adults, such as those who have been recently hospitalized. Sleep and inflammation are independently related to late-life cognitive functioning. The potential role of sleep as a moderator of the relationship between inflammation and global cognitive functioning has not been adequately addressed. We examined the relationship between self-reported sleep duration, inflammatory markers, and general cognitive functioning in hospitalized older men. Older men (n = 135; Mean age = 72.9 ± 9.7 years) were recruited from inpatient rehabilitation units at a VA Medical Center to participate in a cross-sectional study of sleep. Participants completed the Mini-Mental State Examination and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and underwent an 8 a.m. blood draw to measure inflammatory markers [i.e., C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1), and interleukin-6 (IL-6)]. Hierarchical regression analyses (controlling for age, education, race, depression, pain, health comorbidity, and BMI) revealed that higher levels of CRP and sICAM are associated with higher global cognitive functioning in older men with sleep duration ≥6 h (β = -0.19, β = -0.18, p's < 0.05, respectively), but not in those with short sleep durations (p's > 0.05). In elderly hospitalized men, sleep duration moderates the association between inflammation and cognitive functioning. These findings have implications for the clinical care of older men within medical settings.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Frontiers in Psychology
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    ABSTRACT: To examine whether sleep disturbance is associated with poor physical function in older veterans in an adult day healthcare (ADHC) program. Cross-sectional. One ADHC program in a Veterans Affairs Ambulatory Care Center. Older veterans (N = 50) enrolled in a randomized controlled trial of a sleep intervention program who had complete baseline data. Information on participant characteristics (e.g., age, depression, relationship to caregiver, pain, comorbidity) was collected using appropriate questionnaires. Physical function was measured using activity of daily living (ADL) and instrumental ADL (IADL) total scores from the Older Americans Resources and Services Multidimensional Functional Assessment Questionnaire. Sleep was assessed subjectively (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Insomnia Severity Index) and objectively (wrist actigraphy). Participants required substantial assistance with ADLs and IADLs. A regression model showed that participant characteristics (marital status, use of sleep medication, comorbidity, posttraumatic stress disorder) and living arrangement (living with a spouse or others) were significantly associated with poor physical function. Poorer objective sleep (total sleep time, total numbers of awakenings, total wake time) was significantly associated with poor physical function, accounting for a significant proportion of the variance other than participant characteristics. Objective measures of nighttime sleep disturbance were associated with poor physical function in older veterans in an ADHC program. Further research is needed to determine whether interventions to improve sleep will delay functional decline in this vulnerable population. © 2015, Copyright the Authors Journal compilation © 2015, The American Geriatrics Society.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

  • No preview · Article · Jul 2015
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    Cathy Alessi · Michael V Vitiello
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    ABSTRACT: Up to 40% of older adults have insomnia, with difficulty getting to sleep, early waking, or feeling unrefreshed on waking. The prevalence of insomnia increases with age. Other risk factors include psychological factors, stress, daytime napping, and hyperarousal. We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of non-drug treatments for primary insomnia in older people (aged 60 years and older)? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to May 2014 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). We found 14 studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions. In this systematic review, we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), exercise programmes, and timed exposure to bright light.
    Preview · Article · May 2015 · Clinical evidence
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    ABSTRACT: Epidemiologic studies have shown that approximately 50% of older adults have sleep problems, many of which carry deleterious consequences that affect physical and mental health and also social functioning. However, sleep problems in late life are often unrecognized, and are inadequately treated in clinical practice. This article focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of the 2 most common sleep problems in older patients: sleep apnea and insomnia. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Medical Clinics of North America
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: The objective was to conduct a scientifically rigorous update to the National Sleep Foundation's sleep duration recommendations. Methods: The National Sleep Foundation convened an 18-member multidisciplinary expert panel, representing 12 stakeholder organizations, to evaluate scientific literature concerning sleep duration recommendations. We determined expert recommendations for sufficient sleep durations across the lifespan using the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method. Results: The panel agreed that, for healthy individuals with normal sleep, the appropriate sleep duration for newborns is between 14 and 17 hours, infants between 12 and 15 hours, toddlers between 11 and 14 hours, preschoolers between 10 and 13 hours, and school-aged children between 9 and 11 hours. For teenagers, 8 to 10 hours was considered appropriate, 7 to 9 hours for young adults and adults, and 7 to 8 hours of sleep for older adults. Conclusions: Sufficient sleep duration requirements vary across the lifespan and from person to person. The recommendations reported here represent guidelines for healthy individuals and those not suffering from a sleep disorder. Sleep durations outside the recommended range may be appropriate, but deviating far from the normal range is rare. Individuals who habitually sleep outside the normal range may be exhibiting signs or symptoms of serious health problems or, if done volitionally, may be compromising their health and well-being.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015
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    ABSTRACT: A growing number of positive airway pressure (PAP) device users will develop physical/sensory impairments such as arthritis. For these individuals, the usability of their PAP devices (eg, efficiency and satisfaction) may impact the frequency and safety of device usage. Questionnaires to assess PAP usability are unavailable; therefore, we developed the Usability of Sleep Apnea Equipment - Positive Airway Pressure (USE-PAP) questionnaire. Questionnaire development included in-depth interviews to identify relevant content areas, a technical advisory panel to review/edit items, cognitive interviews to refine items, and a cross-sectional survey of Veterans Affairs sleep clinic patients assessing PAP device usability overall (one multi-item scale), usability of PAP components (multi-item scales for machine controls, mask/headgear, tubing, and humidifier), frequency of usability-related issues (one multi-item scale), PAP device characteristics, and demographics. After conducting 19 in-depth interviews, a panel meeting, and 10 cognitive interviews, we administered the survey to 100 PAP device users (67% ≥60 years; 90% male). The items assessing machine control usability received the least favorable ratings. Twenty percent of respondents reported difficulty getting equipment ready for use, and 33 percent had difficulty cleaning equipment. The six multi-item scales had excellent internal consistency reliability (alpha ≥0.84) and item-rest correlations (≥0.39). This study provides initial support for the USE-PAP for measuring PAP device usability. Studies that include large samples are needed to further evaluate the psychometric properties of the USE-PAP. In addition, comparisons of USE-PAP responses with direct observations of PAP-related tasks and objectively measured PAP adherence are needed to fully evaluate the questionnaire. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Sleep Medicine

  • No preview · Article · Dec 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Study objectives: The impact of hospitalization on sleep in late-life is underexplored. The current study examined patterns of sleep quality before, during, and following hospitalization, investigated predictors of sleep quality patterns, and examined predictors of classification discordance between two suggested clinical cutoffs used to demarcate poor/good sleep. Methods: This study included older adults (n = 163; mean age 79.7 ± 6.9 years, 31% female) undergoing inpatient post-acute rehabilitation. Upon admission to inpatient post-acute rehabilitation, patients completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) retrospectively regarding their sleep prior to hospitalization. They subsequently completed the PSQI at discharge, and 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year post discharge. Patient demographic and clinical characteristics (pain, depression, cognition, comorbidity) were collected upon admission. Results: Using latent class analysis methods, older adults could be classified into (1) Consistently Good Sleepers and (2) Chronically Poor Sleepers based on patterns of self-reported sleep quality pre-illness, during, and up to 1 year following inpatient rehabilitation. This pattern was maintained regardless of the clinical cutoff employed (> 5 or > 8). Logistic regression analyses indicated that higher pain and depressive symptoms were consistently associated with an increased likelihood of being classified as a chronic poor sleeper. While there was substantial classification discordance based on clinical cutoff employed, no significant predictors of this discordance emerged. Conclusions: Clinicians should exercise caution in assessing sleep quality in inpatient settings. Alterations in the cutoffs employed may result in discordant clinical classifications of older adults. Pain and depression warrant detailed considerations when working with older adults on inpatient units when poor sleep is a concern.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Journal of clinical sleep medicine: JCSM: official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives To examine the relationship between changes in objectively assessed sleep and global cognitive functioning from inpatient postacute rehabilitation to 6-month follow-up. DesignSecondary analysis of two prospective, longitudinal studies. SettingInpatient rehabilitation units at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. ParticipantsOlder adults (mean age 73.8 ± 9.4) undergoing inpatient rehabilitation (n = 192). MeasurementsAll participants completed 7 nights and days of ambulatory sleep monitoring using wrist actigraphy (yielding an estimate of nighttime wakefulness and daytime sleep) and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) during a postacute inpatient rehabilitation stay and 6 months after discharge. The 5-item Geriatric Depression Scale, Geriatric Pain Measure, and Cumulative Illness Rating Scale for Geriatrics were completed during inpatient rehabilitation. ResultsGrowth curve modeling (controlling for baseline age, education, sex, body mass index, depression, pain, and comorbidity burden) revealed that individuals whose amount of daytime sleep decreased from inpatient postacute rehabilitation to 6-month follow-up also experienced improvements in MMSE score (β= −0.01, t(80 = −3.22, P = .002)). Change in nighttime wakefulness was not a significant predictor of change in MMSE score. Conclusion Older adults whose daytime sleeping decreased after hospital discharge also experienced improvements in cognitive functioning at 6 month follow-up. As such, daytime sleep may represent a promising candidate for targeted interventions aimed at promoting cognitive recovery after hospital discharge.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
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    ABSTRACT: Background Evidence suggests that medical equipment often fails to accommodate the needs of individuals with disabling conditions. Few studies have focused on the accessibility of home medical devices such as positive airway pressure (PAP), which is a type of home medical equipment prescribed for long-term therapy. Objective The purpose of this study was to explore in detail the types of difficulties experienced by patients with physical/sensory impairments who use PAP devices, as an initial step in designing a questionnaire to survey users about this topic. Methods In this descriptive study, in-depth interviews were conducted with 19 participants (9 patients with physical/sensory impairment and 10 healthcare providers). Interviews were coded and analyzed for major topics. Results Participants detailed the numerous ways in which current PAP devices fail to meet the needs of individuals with physical/sensory impairments (e.g., tremor, poor depth perception, paresis), by requiring patients to perform manually difficult tasks, such as inserting PAP parts through small apertures, attaching parts using a twisting motion, and lifting arms overhead to apply PAP headgear. These demands contributed to patients’ frustration with and reduced usage of the home medical device. Conclusions Our findings suggest that home medical devices such as PAP may not be currently designed to meet the needs of some users with physical/sensory impairments. Additional studies are needed to measure the prevalence and impact of impairment-related barriers on PAP adherence for this common medical equipment.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Disability and Health Journal
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the prevalence of occult sleep disordered breathing (SDB) and describe the relationship between classic SDB symptoms (e.g., loud snoring) and occult SDB in older veterans with insomnia. We analyzed baseline survey and in-home sleep study data for 435 veterans (mean age = 72.0 years [SD 8.0]) who had no known history of SDB, met International Classification of Sleep Disorders 2(nd) Edition criteria for insomnia, and were enrolled in a behavioral intervention trial for insomnia. Variables of interest included apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) ≥ 15, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, body mass index (BMI), insomnia subtype (i.e., onset, maintenance, or terminal), self-reported excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, and witnessed breathing pause items from the Berlin Questionnaire. We computed the frequency of AHI ≥ 15 and assessed whether each classic SDB symptom was associated with an AHI ≥ 15 in 4 separate multivariate logistic regression models. Prevalence of AHI ≥ 15 was 46.7%. Excessive daytime sleepiness (adjusted odds ratio 1.63, 95% CI 1.02, 2.60, p = 0.04), but not snoring loudness, snoring frequency, or witnessed breathing pauses was associated with occult SDB (AHI ≥ 15). Insomnia subtypes were not significantly associated with occult SDB (p > 0.38). In our sample of older veterans with insomnia, nearly half had occult SDB, which was characterized by reported excessive daytime sleepiness, but not loud or frequent snoring or witnessed breathing pauses. Insomnia subtype was unrelated to the presence of occult SDB. Fung CH; Martin JL; Dzierzewski JM; Jouldjian S; Josephson K; Park M; Alessi C. Prevalence and symptoms of occult sleep disordered breathing among older veterans with insomnia. J Clin Sleep Med 2013;9(11):1173-1178.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Journal of clinical sleep medicine: JCSM: official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: Sleep quality is related to emotional, physical, psychological and cognitive functioning and functional independence in later life. After acute health events, older adults are likely to utilize postacute rehabilitation services to improve functioning and facilitate return to independent living. Patterns of how sleep changes with postacute rehabilitation, and predictors of such patterns, are unknown. The current investigation employed latent class analysis (LCA) methods to classify older adults (n = 233) into groups based on patterns of self-reported sleep quality pre-illness, during postacute rehabilitation and up to 1 year following postacute rehabilitation. Using LCA, older adults were grouped into (1) consistently good sleepers (46%), (2) good sleepers who transitioned into poor sleepers (34%), (3) consistently poor sleepers (14%) and (4) poor sleepers who transitioned into good sleepers (6%). In three planned analyses, pain was an independent predictor of membership in classes 1 or 2 (good pre-illness sleep quality) versus classes 3 or 4 (poor pre-illness sleep quality), and of membership in class 1 (consistently good sleep) versus class 2 (good sleep that transitioned to poor sleep). A lower Mini-Mental State Examination score was a predictor of membership in class 1 versus class 2. There were no statistically significant predictors of membership in class 3 versus class 4. Demographics, comorbidities and depressive symptoms were not significant predictors of class membership. These findings have implications for identification of older adults at risk for developing poor sleep associated with changes in health and postacute rehabilitation. The findings also suggest that pain symptoms should be targeted to improve sleep during postacute rehabilitation.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Journal of Sleep Research
  • Cathy Alessi · Michael V Vitiello

    No preview · Article · Feb 2013 · American family physician
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose: Little is known about the ease of use of positive airway pressure (PAP) equipment and whether PAP equipment usability is associated with adherence. This pilot project aims to determine whether perceived difficulty with the mechanics of using PAP equipment is associated with nonadherence. Methods: Within a larger study of insomnia treatments, we screened (via telephone interview) 148 adults for sleep apnea/prior PAP use and asked them to describe the degree of difficulty putting on their PAP mask, adjusting their mask straps, turning dials/pushing PAP machine buttons, disconnecting tubing, and removing the machine's water chamber (five items; five-point Likert-like scale) and to report their PAP use (0 versus ≥1 days in the past week). Results: Mean age of participants was 66.7 years (SD 7.0). Thirty respondents (20.3 %) reported at least "some difficulty" with at least one aspect of PAP equipment usability, and 15 respondents (10.1 %) reported at least "quite a lot of difficulty" with one or more aspects of PAP equipment usability. Of the participants, 43.9 % reported not using PAP equipment at all during the past week. Participants (73.3 %) with substantial PAP equipment difficulty (at least quite a lot of difficulty) versus 40.6 % without substantial difficulty reported zero nights of PAP use in the past week (chi-square 5.86, p = .015). Conclusions: Difficulty using PAP equipment is associated with PAP nonadherence. Studies are needed to confirm these findings and to identify determinants of poor usability. If findings are confirmed, strategies could be developed to improve PAP usability, which may improve adherence.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2012 · Sleep And Breathing
  • Jaime Hughes · Cathy A. Alessi · Jennifer L. Martin
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    ABSTRACT: Sleep is a modifiable health behavior critical to healthy aging, yet is rarely addressed in geriatric rehabilitation or chronic disease management programs. While questionnaires have been validated for self-reported assessment of sleep, many are not appropriate for frail older adults due to length and item complexity. In a larger study of sleep in VA Adult Day Health Care (ADHC), we screened 54 individuals (mean age=78, 94% male) for sleep complaints using qualitative feedback ("Tell me about your sleep.") and 4 items from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (minutes to fall asleep, minutes awake at night, hours of sleep, sleep quality). Qualitatively, 37 respondents (69%) indicated one or more sleep disturbances, most commonly trouble staying asleep (n=18), physical health problems interrupting sleep (n=13), trouble falling asleep (n=9), and sleep apnea (n=8). Quantitatively, many endorsed characteristics of clinically-defined insomnia: 28 (52%) respondents spent ≥30 minutes awake at night, 23 (43%) took ≥30 minutes to fall asleep, and 20 (37%) slept 6 hours or less. 12 (22%) endorsed "poor" sleep quality. Those who took ≥30 minutes to fall asleep were more likely to report one or more sleep problems on the qualitative item (X2=49.6, p=.002), but not to report trouble falling asleep, specifically (X2=2.6, p=.110). There were no other significant relationships among items. While ADHC participants frequently reported sleep-related difficulties, there are challenges to quantifying these complaints. Our findings highlight the need to develop appropriate methods to screen for sleep difficulties in this population and to identify those most appropriate for sleep interventions.
    No preview · Conference Paper · Oct 2012
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a costly, serious health condition involving cessations in breathing during sleep that leads to fragmented sleep and daytime sleepiness. Long-term consequences include heart disease, stroke, depression and cognitive impairment. For women, risk for OSA increases with age and after menopause (prevalence: 3.9% post-menopause vs. 0.6% pre-menopause) likely due to changes in hormones that protect against sleep apnea. However, OSA is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, depression, or insomnia. Modifying health behaviors that contribute to obesity can help reduce OSA risk. Objective and Methods: In a cross-sectional study of women Veterans with insomnia (mean age=49, 41% non-Hispanic White), we screened participants for OSA risk using the Berlin Sleep Apnea Questionnaire (BSAQ) and examined age and menopausal status as predictors of high OSA risk. We also compared health-related quality-of-life (SF-12 mental and physical scores) in high versus low OSA risk groups on the BSAQ. Results: 40% of participants were obese and 38% had been treated for hypertension. 57% (n=60) were deemed at "high sleep apnea risk." Risk was significantly higher for menopausal than pre-menopausal women (70% vs. 17%, X2=9.84, p=.002). Menopause was a significant predictor of apnea risk (X2=5.01, p=0.25), but age was not (X2=0.18, p=.669). Lower physical health-related quality-of-life was related to high risk (t=4.79, p<.001). Discussion: Menopausal status, but not age, predicted high OSA risk on the BSAQ. Since treating OSA can reduce health consequences and improve quality of life, post-menopausal women Veterans with sleep complaints should be routinely screened for OSA.
    No preview · Conference Paper · Oct 2012
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    ABSTRACT: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Centers (GRECCs) originated in 1975 in response to the rapidly aging veteran population. Since its inception, the GRECC program has made major contributions to the advancement of aging research, geriatric training, and clinical care within and outside the VA. GRECCs were created to conduct translational research to enhance the clinical care of future aging generations. GRECC training programs also provide leadership in educating healthcare providers about the special needs of older persons. GRECC programs are also instrumental in establishing robust clinical geriatric and aging research programs at their affiliated university schools of medicine. This report identifies how the GRECC program has successfully adapted to changes that have occurred in VA since 1994, when the program's influence on U.S. geriatrics was last reported, focusing on its effect on advancing clinical geriatrics in the last 10 years. This evidence supports the conclusion that, after more than 30 years, the GRECC program remains a vibrant "jewel in the crown of the VA" and is poised to make contributions to aging research and clinical geriatrics well into the future.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2012 · Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Publication Stats

6k Citations
408.95 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2005-2015
    • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
      • Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center
      Los Ángeles, California, United States
  • 1997-2015
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Division of Geriatrics
      Los Ángeles, California, United States
  • 2006
    • University of California, Davis
      Davis, California, United States
    • Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
      • Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
      Scottsdale, AZ, United States
  • 1994-2003
    • Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
      Torrance, California, United States
  • 1998
    • Soonchunhyang University
      Onyang, Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea