As the first wave of "want to be forever young" baby boomers turns 60, Saint Louis University is creating a new center for research, education and clinical care to help them reach their goal.
"Society's growing older. We're at the stage that the baby boomers are moving rapidly into the beginning of the ‘young' old and are eager to slow down the aging process and prevent health problems that rob them of their vitality,” says John Morley, M.D., director of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University and co-principal investigator of the new Center for Aging Successfully.
“We're going to need better care – new and innovative approaches. This center gives SLU the opportunity to take the lead during the next century in developing the knowledge to provide the best possible care for the aged.”
The study of growing old has been an area of strength for Saint Louis University for nearly three decades. For the last 10 years, U.S. News & World Report has consistently recognized Saint Louis University's geriatrics programs as one of the best in the country.
The Center for Aging Successfully is part of a $1 million University initiative designed to strengthen areas where SLU has national recognition. The Centers of Excellence received funding to further educational collaborations and interdisciplinary research in three other key areas: environmental science, language and culture, and medieval and renaissance studies.
“Having a center allows us to move forward to produce even better outcomes than we've had over the last 30 years,” Morley says.
Susan Tebb, Ph.D., director of the School of Social Work and co-principal investigator of the Center for Aging Successfully, sees the designation as formal recognition of SLU's track record in gerontology studies.
“Our educators who are interested in aging issues from both sides of campus have been meeting informally for the last 30 years. I'm delighted the University recognizes this is a need and they're allowing us to fulfill it.”
Dr. Tebb says she is hoping the new center will encourage students to consider working with the elderly as they plan their career paths.
“We're seeing a little increase in interest in working with the aged. The need is tremendous and it's growing.”
Nina Tumosa, Ph.D., professor of geriatrics and center co-principal investigator, says the center will make it easier for faculty who work on aging issues to collaborate.
“We work as a team because we all bring critical components to the program. Whatever we do with research and education, we want to translate to better patient care.”
Faculty from the School of Medicine, Doisy College of Health Sciences, School of Public Health, College of Public Service, Graduate School and College of Arts and Sciences are part of the new center. A dedicated grant writer will pursue funding opportunities to expand geriatrics research and education. In addition, the Center for Aging Successfully will provide education on multiple levels -- from the lay public through community programs to University students at all degree levels to health care providers working in local hospitals and community health centers.
“I envision a center that would have clinical, education and research components that would draw people anywhere in the Midwest who care about aging,” Morley says.
Faculty could explore topics such as exercise and falls; Alzheimer's disease; illness in certain population groups; hormones, nutrition; social problems; and emergency preparedness.
“We're going to bring together different groups to focus on these areas and see if by working together we can make inroads,” Morley says. “We understand that the power of many of us is greater than the power of one.”
Saint Louis University is a Jesuit, Catholic university ranked among the top research institutions in the nation. The University fosters the intellectual and character development of more than 12,000 students on campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Founded in 1818, it is the oldest university west of the Mississippi and the second oldest Jesuit university in the United States.