New program offers information on aging

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    The Center on Healthy Aging is a new program within the Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences, according to the dean of the Harris College.The Center for Healthy Aging will provide support for older adults, their families and their care-givers by bringing together academic research and community focus efforts in the area of gerontology, said Paulette Burns, dean of the Harris College.

    Plans for the center began in June 2001 when it received a Vision in Action strategic fund grant. The center is not expected to be finished until early 2007, Burns said.

    The main goal of the center is to promote the healthy aging of older adults by educating students, faculty, community professionals and the public about aging-related issues, said Dennis Cheek, an endowed professor of gerontology.

    The center will be beneficial to the TCU community as a site for accurate information gathering and a place for families to ask about and discuss important aging-related issues, Cheek said.

    For example, if a student’s grandparents have heart disease and both parents are developing it, then the student is at risk, Cheek said.

    However, if students ask questions about their families’ health histories then they may be able to take preventative measures, he said.

    “Texas has the fourth largest older-adult population in the country,” Cheek said in a grant proposal for the center. “However, the health care and business workforce in Texas is not prepared to respond to the growing needs of older adults and their families.”

    Many students have either a parent and/or a grandparent who is close to or older than age 67 – the Social Security definition of an older adult – and will have to deal with things such as health care, a living will and chronic disease, Cheek said.

    The center, which will be located in Bass Hall Room 119, has a director, nursing professor Linda Curry. However, the center still needs a full-time administrative assistant and an advisory board for the center is still being assembled, Cheek said.

    The community advisory board will decide what direction the center will take as far as education, community support and research, Cheek said. The board will determine what would be the most beneficial way to get the program started.