Geriatrics expert says UNTHSC is working to make Fort Worth a great place to grow old

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Janice Knebl, DO, MBA, was quick to put to rest any misconceptions about aging when she spoke at the Rotary Club of Fort Worth.

“People think someone in their late 80s is supposed to be confused,” she told the audience before pausing a second. “No!”

The Chief of UNTHSC’s Division of Geriatrics then explained the many ways that UNT Health Science Center is helping older adults – including the group she calls the Super Seniors age 85 and beyond – stay healthy and active as they age.

Through the SAGE (Seniors Assisting in Geriatric Education) program, medical, physician assistant, physical therapy and pharmacy students are partnered with older adults to improve their general health. Since 2009, more than 1,600 students have visited some 800 senior volunteers, providing them with advice on home safety, medications and other issues.

The next step is to open SAGE to Texas Christian University students in nursing, social work and dietetics. This will train students across different health professions to work together and take a team approach to caring for patients, Knebl said.

In the area of research, UNTHSC is one of six partners in the Texas Alzheimer’s Research and Care Consortium that is working to improve early diagnosis, treatment and prevention.  Data collected from more than 1,800 adults will be used by the consortium to further research.

In addition, UNTHSC is enrolling patients in clinical trials that could one day help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, delay symptoms or cure it.

From research to clinical care, much is being done to enhance the quality of life for older adults, Knebl said.

“I believe UNTHSC can help Fort Worth become a great place to grow old,” she said.

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