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Archive for Sunday, August 15, 1999

CENTER ON AGING TO HELP OLDER KANSANS

August 15, 1999

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The Center on Aging will help health-care professionals provide services for older Kansans.

It's a young field, but one that will benefit an older population.

When the Kansas University Center on Aging opens its doors in the next year it will serve thousands of patients 50 years of age and older. While the concept of serving seniors is not new, putting so many services, from legal help to health care facilities under one roof, is.

"It's a new 52,000-square-foot facility that will bring together older adults from across the state of Kansas," said Dr. Stephanie Studenski, director for the KU Center on Aging.

The center will include services for ambulatory care, rehabilitation, wellness, health education and outreach services. It also will include an elder law clinic and meeting rooms.

"The need has been growing," Studenski said. "Kansas is one of the leading states of an aging population. We're about 20 years ahead in terms of age, particularly in rural areas."

Until now, there hasn't been a comprehensive center in the state to help older people with a variety of health-care needs, Studenski said.

"The services have been fragmented with doctors' offices, fitness programs, senior centers and other programs" she said. "We'll be able to bring all kinds of these programs together."

One major component of the center will be a staff working together to understand and diagnose the special needs of older people.

"It's called multi-disciplinary education," Studenski said. "It's a priority for us."

Under the program, future doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, therapists and other health-care professionals will train together, rather than in specialized departments.

"It's also a research facility," Studenski said. "We want to improve health and functions, especially with diseases like stroke."

The center will serve people directly, but also will be available for seniors citizens and health-care professionals throughout the state who can access information through the Internet or with video technology.

"We used to think that once you grew up everything stayed the same for the rest of your life," Studenski said. "It isn't true."

The center, which is being constructed at the corner of 36th Street and Rainbow Boulevard in Kansas City, Kan., was designed to be user-friendly, Studenski said.

"We're very excited because it's convenient and accessible to the public," she said. "Parking is right out front. It's easy to find and easy to use."

The Center for Aging should be ready for opening day sometime next summer, Studenski said.

-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is jwatson@ljworld.com.

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