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BEACON Senior News

AgeWell’s revolutionary formula for optimizing seniors’ health

Jul 01, 2024 10:09PM ● By G. L. Yenne

Does advancing age automatically mean your health declines? Attitudes and treatments are changing, and it’s about time. 

“When I started to practice medicine 45 years ago, older adults would come in with a complaint or problem and the response was often, ‘What do you expect? You’re getting older!’” said Dr. Jeffrey T. Kulp, MD., director of AgeWell Medical Associates. “Today, our goal is to keep people healthy and high functioning as long as possible. Decline is not a necessary condition. Seniors can enjoy a long and healthy life into their 90s.”

Kulp moved from Philadelphia to Colorado Springs in 1990 as a contract physician with the Memorial Hospital System, operating Colorado Springs Senior Medicine adjacent to the city-owned Senior Center. The practice separated from Memorial in 1997 and became AgeWell in 2007.

Their building, designed to serve seniors, is ADA compliant. There are no steps, the distance from the reception area to the exam rooms is short and the spacious hallways include handrails. Paintings by their patients adorn the walls.

They treat patients 60 and over, primarily those on Medicare. All six providers coordinate with their colleagues to prevent duplicate or unnecessary testing. They focus on preventive services, chronic condition management, in-office labs, telehealth and end-of-life planning.

“Many primary care doctors today see their patients for just 15 minutes. It’s very difficult to address multiple chronic conditions and make recommendations for tests and treatment in that amount of time,” said Kulp.

He emphasized the community’s need for primary care doctors that can serve the growing older population well. 

“Our providers are passionate and caring to older adults and listen carefully to their questions [before any exam or treatment],” he said. “We spend 60-90 minutes with new patients on an initial visit and 75 minutes for an annual wellness exam. We see eight to 10 patients a day, not 20-30 patients, which is usual.” 

AgeWell is a nationally recognized Patient Centered Medical Home, distinguished as one of the few practices nationwide with an innovative approach to exceptional senior primary care. By addressing potential health issues early, they qualify for Medicare reimbursement from shared savings. 

“As an independent practice, we can make changes on the fly, in real time,” said office administrator Lori Trivelli. 

They aren’t slowed by requiring permission first.

“We are under the same financing imperatives as everyone else, but our primary focus is the well-being of our patients,” Trivelli said.

Many issues in the senior population stem from mental health concerns like depression or anxiety. 

“We look for the underlying problem and treat it,” Kulp said. 

AgeWell’s psychologist is very involved in the holistic care of patients, helping them achieve emotional health in a practical and not psychoanalytical way.

AgeWell also prioritizes shared decision-making. 

“I don’t tell my patients what to do. I lay out the options, such as, we can watch your high blood pressure or we can tweak the meds,” said Kulp. “We empower people to manage their health.” 

Kulp said his greatest satisfaction comes from connecting with people first before their health issues.

“It would be tedious if I did not know their story, who they are, what they love, what they have done. To be invited into people’s lives is a privilege,” he said. 

Due to steady growth, AgeWell hopes to add a second location. For now, you can schedule your primary care appointment at 2350 International Circle by calling 719-475-5065. For more information, visit