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UAMS responds to an aging Arkansas.

New Center for Aging embraces the needs of a "graying" population

None of us are getting any younger. In fact, it appears that more of us are living longer than ever before.

National projections indicate that about 20 percent of America's population will be 65 years of age or older by the year 2030--and that's not nearly as far away as it used to be. Health care, as one might expect, is a major concern among the elderly.

Many Arkansas counties already meet or exceed the 20 percent mark, and UAMS is providing and managing health care for these seniors.

UAMS is fortifying its medical and health-care expertise and resources to absorb the leading edge of an impending wave of health needs among the aged. In this role, UAMS is determining the direction for future statewide programs and helping to set the pace for national-scale efforts.

Arkansas' percentage of elderly residents ranks among the five highest in the nation, so a focus on geriatrics and gerontology at UAMS is not only understandable and appropriate--it is a necessity. For this reason, UAMS has established the Arkansas Center for Aging--an interdisciplinary "program without walls" that encompasses gerontology education and research and patient care for the elderly.

The center combines the many geriatrics and gerontology resources of the state's only comprehensive academic health-sciences campus. It includes gerontology research in UAMS's four colleges and graduate school and other clinical research by UAMS personnel at affiliated institutions (including the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center).

The center also includes the many treatment facilities at UAMS Medical Center and its affiliated institutions. These facilities offer geriatrics care. They include: the Geriatric Clinic, the Ambulatory Care Center, the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the McClellan VA medical center's two campuses and other UAMS-affiliated clinical facilities that treat the elderly.

UAMS is one of a mere handful of academic health centers in the nation to develop an interdisciplinary team approach to senior health care. The entire state of Arkansas has only nine practicing geriatricians. The Arkansas Center for Aging has four of them.

The center currently is conducting a $4.3 million fund-raising drive as part of the five-year, $63.5 million UAMS Invest in Life! Capital Campaign.


Advances in health care and recent emphasis on nutrition and healthier lifestyles contribute to a longer life expectancy. The vast majority of older persons remain physically active, in full control of their faculties and vigorously able to enjoy the fruits of life.

Although many older persons remain in excellent health, most acknowledge their vulnerability to the aging process. The risk of developing a major disabling disease increases with each advancing year. After the age of 80, the risk is extremely high. This most-rapidly growing segment of our population has a 50 percent chance of being unable to function without assistance.

The impact of disease may be particularly devastating in older individuals and among family members who care for them. Loss of functional independence from either disability or memory loss places older persons at risk for long-term--and expensive--institutionalization.


The single-most-difficult problem facing many older Americans is frailty and functional dependency--an inability to live without assistance. The level of dependency varies and may include the need for help with shopping, cleaning, cooking and financial management. Or it may require more intensive assistance with dressing, bathing, transferring to a toilet and eating.

The cause of functional dependency may be physical--often the result of disease or loss of muscle mass--or an invariable sequel of advancing age. Or it may be cognitive--a result of diseases affecting memory and intellectual functioning.

Even if functionally independent, many people past 80 years of age are frail, and this condition poses an increased susceptibility to illness, such as pneumonia or influenza. This frequently may be a life-threatening disorder that increases functional dependency and necessitates a prolonged period of rehabilitation.

Frailty also is associated with increased susceptibility to falls that often result in fractures. Most current programs that target frailty attempt to minimize its impact by delaying or preventing diseases. In addition, nutritional and exercise programs may attempt to improve physical and cognitive functioning.

The future holds the promise of identifying the fundamental biological processes at work in aging. With a better understanding of these mechanisms, medical science will be able to minimize age-related declines in cellular function and slow or even prevent diseases associated with aging. A few examples: heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and memory loss.


Elderly Arkansans and their loved ones are looking for expert help to assure good health in old age. The ultimate source of this comforting assurance in Arkansas is UAMS.

UAMS is one of a handful of pioneering institutions in the nation in the area of aging. Its position in this field is based on the sum of educational, clinical and research programs of its four colleges and graduate school, the clinical programs based at three affiliated facilities and the six Arkansas Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) located throughout the state.

Through health-care teams focused on geriatrics and gerontology, UAMS optimizes senior health, trains the next generation of geriatricians and other professionals concerned with the aging process and performs basic and applied research along these lines.

Combining elements of many programs, UAMS has established an interdisciplinary Arkansas Center for Aging for the benefit of older patients with normal aging problems, physical disabilities and cognitive disorders--including Alzheimer's disease.

The center includes the following dynamic programs:

* Medical students and residents receive geriatrics clinical training and research experience in a model setting. This expertise is the foundation of the center. David A. Lipschitz, M.D., Ph.D., provides direction through the UAMS College of Medicine's Division of Aging.

* The UAMS College of Nursing trains master's-degree-prepared gerontology nurses and has provided the state with many leaders in this field. An active research program in the college already is focused on the needs of elderly patients.

* In 1979, the UAMS College of Pharmacy became the first pharmacy program in the nation to require an experience in geriatrics. It still trains all its students in "geropharmacy."

* Geriatrics already is a component of many of the programs in the UAMS College of Health Related Professions, including dental hygiene, speech pathology and nutrition.

* Several UAMS faculty researchers are developing a fuller understanding of the fundamental biology of the aging process. Samuel Goldstein, M.D., is exploring the genes that "switch on" aging.

Despite these strengths in the basic sciences, UAMS does not have the necessary "critical mass" of qualified scientists needed to found a comprehensive center, so an incremental approach toward progress will be applied. First, the educational environment and infrastructure will be improved. Next, additional faculty will be recruited, and scientific research capabilities will be strengthened.


A $1 million endowment gift in May from the Inglewood Foundation for the study of Alzheimer's disease provided a big boost for the Arkansas Center for Aging. The endowment establishes the Inglewood Scholars program, which will recruit a new researcher every three years and provide "seed money" for each scientist's initial research in hopes that the studies will attract grant money from other sources.

The overall goal is to position UAMS as a significant generator of extramural funding for research on aging. Academic collaboration on campus will increase awareness of opportunities for additional research and forge links with clinical programs to apply findings to patient care.

There are many examples of this synergy, but one stands out. Cornelia Beck, Ph.D., R.N., associate dean for research in the UAMS College of Nursing, is one of the leading researchers in the management of Alzheimer's disease. She has generated many federal grants to support her research, and she has been instrumental in recruiting and developing a number of excellent new faculty members in the college as collaborators.


UAMS officials believe that in time, the core group of researchers and the output of the Inglewood Scholars will warrant national recognition of the Arkansas Center for Aging and help justify its designation as a federal Pepper Center (named for the late U.S. Rep. Claude Pepper, D-Fla., who was a staunch legislative supporter of programs for the elderly).

It's a matter of trusts

"Planned" gifts just keep on giving to givers

Wouldn't it be nice if gifts to institutions like UAMS could provide more than just a "warm feeling" to those who give them? What if such donations could return some tangible financial benefits?

They can! This is no daydream, it's an innovative way patrons may help worthy institutions like UAMS without compromising their own financial security. It's called "planned" giving.

Here's how it works: Donors place gifts in a trust and receive an income (based on the value of the gift) for life. And the gifts (property, stocks, securities, etc.) are transferred to UAMS at a later date. The cost to the donor for handling the gift in this manner is modest.

But wait, there are more bonuses for donors. One such benefit is an immediate income tax deduction for the value of the gift at the time it is placed in the trust. Also, such gifts may provide a break on estate taxes. And if a gift placed in a trust increases in value, "planned" giving may serve as a shelter from the capital gains tax. Finally, "planned" givers may enjoy the knowledge that their gifts will have an enormous impact on the institution's future.

Here's a recent example: A UAMS patron recently transferred $25,000 in securities into a trust for the eventual benefit of UAMS and specified two programs as recipients. The arrangement calls for the donor to receive $2,250 a year, for life.

This method of giving, sometimes called "deferred" giving, benefits both the donor and the institution. Givers are assured of a continuing income from the asset (perhaps even more than before), and they also get valued tax breaks. The institution receives guaranteed donations that will help finance its programs.

Perhaps "planned" giving is right for you. Such gifts may be arranged in a variety of ways. And what's more, they provide maximum benefits for donors and for UAMS--the ultimate beneficiary. For more information about this unique approach to philanthropy, please call John Coffin at 686-7894. He'll be happy to help you. You can "plan" on it.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Aug 16, 1993
Previous Article:Infrastructure.
Next Article:College of Medicine looks over the horizon.

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