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Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2007

University creates institute to study aging

April 4, 2007

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— Wichita State University plans to open an institute that will coordinate research on several aspects of aging, from Alzheimer's disease to helping the elderly with driving and reading problems.

The university has long partnered with Larksfield Place, a continuing-care retirement community, to find ways to help the elderly with many problems they face.

The institute, which will be officially announced today, is planned to better coordinate the partnership with Larksfield, help researchers, advocate for their work and seek grants, The Wichita Eagle reported Tuesday.

"The institute will marshal our forces at the university. ... We've got more than 20 people doing research on aging issues in several departments," said Gary Miller, vice president for academic affairs and research at Wichita State. "It will also merge their work with some of the fine partners we have."

Wichita State University wanted Larksfield's partnership because its staff works with the elderly every day, supplementing the work done by Wichita State researchers, said Valerie McGhee, Larksfield's president and chief executive.

"We can make sure we bring the voices and the ideas of the elders back to the researchers," McGhee said.

Teresa Radebaugh, who has worked at the National Institute on Aging and with the National Institutes of Health, has been hired to run the new institute.

Some of the topics researchers address include problems with elders driving, finding new ways to get federal aid to grandparents raising grandchildren, the evacuation of elderly people during natural disasters and training nurses in long-term care.

Aging is a growing national challenge, said Philip Gaunt, director of Wichita State University-Link, which works on creating partnerships between Wichita State University and the community.

"The fastest-growing demographic in the country is the group of elderly older than 85," he said. "There are elderly parents now taking care of elderly parents. There are perceptions about aging, and misperceptions. ... There are many things Wichita State University is working on."

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