Founded as Institute of Geriatrics in 2008, INGER became one of the National Institutes of Health of the Ministry of Health in 2012, in order to respond to the enormous challenge posed by the ageing of the Mexican population, through research on geriatrics and related topics, education and training of specialized staff, development of models of care, and innovation of public policies aimed at the elderly.
Being a new-generation institute, INGER has a multidisciplinary and horizontal approach to the diversity of topics concerning ageing, and two of its m/ain goals are: to concur the implementation of the models of care and education by both private and public sectors, and to establish a health care model for older persons based on morbidity and disability indicators, providing access to physical activity, proper nutrition and timely treatment of health conditions that may have negative consequences on their quality of life; as well as the extension of care in communities and homes. These actions will translate into the inclusion of geriatrics and gerontology as a horizontal perspective in the development of any health and social program in Mexico.
Thus, the mission of INGER is to promote a healthy and active ageing of the Mexican people through the advancement of knowledge, its application and dissemination, the training of specialized human resources, and through leadership in the development of health services within the National Health System as a whole. On the long run, it aims to become the regional leading research and education institution on aging, with proven ability to affect positively the health and quality of life of the aged population.
The founding director of INGER is Dr. Luis Miguel Gutiérrez-Robledo, a renowned geriatrician with doctoral degrees in Medical Sciences and Public Health. Dr. Gutiérrez Robledo has been a main actor in a vast number of actions aimed at achieving the well-being of the Mexican elderly over the past three decades.
The Research Department at INGER is headed by Dr. Ma. del Carmen García Peña, a physician with a specialty in Family Medicine, a master in Medical Sciences by Mexico's National Autonomous University, and a Ph. D. in Public Health and Ageing by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. An experienced researcher in topics such as ageing, depression, frailty and health care models, among others, Dr. García Peña leads a multidisciplinary team which includes geriatricians, nutritionists, biologists, biomedical engineers, psychologist, chemists, health administrators, demographers, and international relations specialists, all with postgraduate degrees on an array of areas such as public policy, public health, and population studies, from renowned national and international institutions in the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, and Colombia, among other nations.
Such a diverse team favors strategic multidisciplinary research collaborations and is designed to have a positive impact on developing public policies, programs, as well as health and social services for the community. Agreeing with the multi-faceted etiology of aging, our researchers work collaboratively in a paradigm organized in six research topics: biology of aging, clinical research, epidemiological research, health care and service models, social determinants of aging, and gerontechnology.
The Institute seeks also to bring about exchange between scientists on both the national and international level, by organizing meetings and establishing agreements and partnerships with other institutions of its kind.
Being the youngest national health institute in Mexico, INGER has currently 17 researchers, 14 of them members of the National System of Researchers, with almost 92 publications, most of them in high-impact journals over the past few years.
The Education and Dissemination Department at INGER is headed by Dr. Flor Ávila-Fematt, one of the first geriatricians fully educated in Mexico. In possession of a vast attending and teaching experience, she leads a team of geriatricians, nurses, social workers, gerontologists, pedagogues, public health specialists, communication and information specialists, all working together in the design and implementation of training programs for the diverse profiles of health professionals and non-professionals care-givers. In addition, the team collaborates in other activities concerning the dissemination and awareness of healthy aging, the preservation of functional and cognitive ability of the elderly and other related themes, as well as in the publication of books, webpage, and social network profiles. Since the creation of INGER, the Education area has completed 66 courses of continual medical education for over 4400 students, members of the Institute have participated in over 300 interviews for the media, the co-production of a TV series on the Revolution of Longevity, the co-production of a stage play as part of a strategy to create awareness of elderly abuse, among many other dissemination activities.
INGER acknowledges public and private institutions, lawmakers, civil society organizations, families, and older people themselves as its ideal partners. For this reason, it has established collaboration agreements with universities, foundations, hospitals, and research institutions of Mexico and the United States in order to advance education and research projects, the implementation of assessment scales, strategies for promoting, studying and disseminating the rights of the older persons with a non-discriminative perspective, the development of an education model for staff involved in the care of older persons. Mexico’s National Institute of Women (Inmujeres), National Autonomous University (UNAM), USC’s Roybal Institute on Aging, and Fundación Tagle are some of the many institutions with which INGER has productively cooperated.
MEXICO’S NATIONAL ACTION PLAN FOR ALZHEIMER AND OTHER DEMENTIAS
In order to address the triple challenge––medical, scientific and social––posed by Alzheimer’s Disease and other related illnesses, INGER has lead since 2011 the efforts to draft and endorse a National Plan focused on the patient and his/her family. This unprecedented plan seeks to promote prevention, early diagnosis, and support for patients and their caregivers. This requires training of qualified and specialized staff, organized in multidisciplinary teams, including care-givers and family members. The education and training programs for every level of care will be developed by taskforces coordinated by INGER.
RESEARCH LABORATORY AND FUNCTIONAL ASSESSMENT OF THE ELDERLY
The purpose of this laboratory is to promote early evaluation and development of preventive strategies for degenerative conditions associated to ageing. It offers professional, multidisciplinary care through a comprehensive geriatric assessment emphasizing the functional state. At the same time, the collected information feeds different research lines at INGER. The lab is staffed by an experienced team which includes physicians specialized in geriatrics, internal medicine, and physical medicine, nurses, physical therapists and nutritionists.
The cutting-edge equipment of the lab includes dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), bioelectrical impedance analysis, isokinetic dynamometer, hand dynamometers, and portable GAIT analysis walkway system, GaitRite. All of this allows us to assess: a) physical performance and functionality (i.e. muscular force, balance, equilibrium, walking, movement); b) bodily composition; c) assessment of the osseous system (i.e. risk assessment of osteoporosis); d) assessment of skeletal muscle mass (i.e. risk assessment of sarcopenia); e) evaluation of fat component (i.e. risk assessment of obesity); f) assessment of hydration level; g) and morphology and somatotype.
RESEARCH NETWORK ON AGEING, HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
The National Institute of Geriatrics leads the Research Network on Ageing, Health and Social Development, which brings together a significant number of the country’s key institutions, including universities from all over the country, as well as public and private health institution. This network is funded, for the second, consecutive period, by a grant from the National Council for Science and Technology. One of its main goals is to build a common space where knowledge on aging can be produced and shared in a collaborative scheme. There are four main topics of work: Biology of ageing, demographic and social perspective, epidemiology and geriatrics, and gerontechnology.
The Virtual Library (BV) offers a collection of open-access documents on the topics of aging and health. It also compiles a growing number of sites of interest covering from geriatrics and gerontology to epidemiology, dementia, care, public policies, among others. The researchers and the education team of INGER have access to a number of specialized journals and e-books. The BV is part of the National Consortium of Information and Scientific Consortium (Conricyt) funded by the National Council of Science and Technology.
VIRTUAL CAMPUS TRAINING
The educational on-line strategies of INGER rely on Moodle, a platform capable of holding 500 students, simultaneously reviewing different multimedia contents, or participating in forums and real-time sessions. This learning management system has already been tested during an 160-hour course aimed at people who work at institutions offering hospice care for the elderly and an 160-hours diploma course on Alzheimer and other dementias for first-level care staff from all over the country. This latter course is being tutored by a large team of mental health professionals.