Mission & History


Institute on Aging works to enhance the quality of life for adults as they age by enabling them to maintain their health, well-being, independence and participation in the community. We serve a diverse population of older adults and disabled adults by providing innovative, community-based programs that enable our clients to live at home for as long as possible. We serve as an essential partner in the continuum of care by providing health services, social and emotional support, and education and advocacy.

Who We Serve

Institute on Aging serves everyone without regard to ethnicity, religion, sexual identity, or social status. We embrace the Bay area’s vibrant and varied culture, celebrating the diversity of its inhabitants. We have a commitment to representing, honoring, and enhancing the journeys of all aging adults, including those from different cultural backgrounds as well as seniors within the LGBT community.

We have a particular strength in helping individuals who are unable to join other programs because of complex traits such as dementia, frailty, behavioral health concerns or difficulty complying with medical or therapeutic recommendations.

The key to providing the best possible care for aging adults lies in our innovative care methods. Every single client has a unique set of needs, so we work with clients and their families or caregivers to establish a customized care plan. We take pride in our effective care methods that serve clients from all cultural and social backgrounds.

Institute on Aging’s Founders

In 1983, four of San Francisco’s most important foundations (The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Koret Foundation, the Levi-Strauss Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation) provided planning funds for a comprehensive geriatrics program under the Mount Zion umbrella. Based on this planning, two of the Jewish community’s most generous philanthropic couples—Elise and Walter Haas and Rhoda and Richard Goldman—provided challenge grants to establish what is now Institute on Aging. Simply put, these visionaries made Institute on Aging possible.

In 1985, Institute on Aging became a separate 501(c)(3) organization while maintaining its close ties to Mount Zion and the Jewish community. Institute on Aging’s original board came almost entirely from the Mount Zion family, including physicians, senior executives and Jewish community leaders Rhoda Goldman, Adele Corvin, Tully M. Friedman and Alan Rothenberg.

Mount Zion, UCSF and Institute on Aging

In 1990, Mount Zion and UCSF solidified nearly 60 years of professional cooperation by merging. Mount Zion became the hub of UCSF’s outpatient services, including geriatrics, and was encouraged to continue its leadership role in the field and its partnership with Institute on Aging.


In 1975, internist and cardiologist Lawrence Feigenbaum, MD, along with Barbara W. Sklar planted the seed of an idea with colleagues and friends at Mount Zion Hospital. They proposed creating a safe alternative to nursing home placement. As a result, Mount Zion opened the nation’s first adult day health center in a US community hospital, effectively launching the senior independence movement.

Over the next ten years, Mount Zion added outpatient service for seniors to cut down on hospitalizations, and opened the nation’s first in-home creative arts program for homebound seniors through the generous support of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation, Walter and Elise Haas Fund, Koret Foundation and Ruth Ann Rosenberg.

In 1985, Mount Zion formally established the Institute on Aging as a separate 501(c)3 non-profit organization, placing all of its outpatient senior services under the Institute on Aging umbrella. The same year, the City of San Francisco tapped the Institute on Aging to coordinate its Elder Abuse Prevention Program.

Over the decades, the Institute on Aging has expanded our services to include health services, social and emotional support, and education and advocacy. We have forged partnerships with SF Department of Aging and Adult Services, California Pacific Medical Center, and PACE to operate neighborhood resource centers, offer PACE centers and Alzheimer’s day treatment, and provide IOA clients with fiduciary and financial management services.

We have deep roots in the Jewish community and have successfully expanded our reach to encompass all ethnic, religious and cultural communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Institute on Aging’s Mount Zion History

Jewish Family Tradition

We trace our roots back to the Jewish community’s traditional sense of family and its commitment to caring for elders with dignity. Institute on Aging’s founders saw their mission as an expression of this heritage, which goes back some 4,000 years. Today we are honored to carry this commitment forward.

First in Elder Care

Longtime Institute on Aging Board Member Lawrence Feigenbaum, M.D. and colleague Barbara Skar, played a key role in Mount Zion’s response to the growing need for a comprehensive approach to geriatrics. As an accredited specialist on aging, Barbara has shared her expertise with Bay Area communities through her service at the Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco. As an internist and cardiologist on the medical staff, in the 1970s Dr. Feigenbaum helped Mount Zion establish the nation’s first adult day health center in a teaching hospital. Then they convinced the state of California to authorize Medi-Cal coverage for this service.

Dr. Feigenbaum was also a leader in geriatric education and research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Working with both UCSF and Mount Zion, he established, at Mount Zion, the first fellowship in geriatric medicine in the western United States. Today, Institute on Aging is a community partner in UCSF’s Northern California Geriatric Education Center, which provides faculty and curriculum development, clinical student training, and continuing education for health professionals.

With encouragement from Dr. Feigenbaum and others who recognized the growing need, Mount Zion gradually expanded its outpatient services for seniors. Between 1980 and 1984, these services attracted $12 million in outside funding, a significant amount at the time for such a novel approach. By 1983, these services were logging 45,000 annual patient/client visits, and many had waiting lists.