by Kathy Dannenhold
Possibly nothing demonstrates healthy outcomes more than a long and productive life. Honoring Dean Emeritus Rheba de Tornyay's lifelong interest in healthy aging, a center that bears her name opened this Fall to support research, education and practice related to the challenges and rewards of advanced age. Fittingly, the public unveiling of the UW School of Nursing's de Tornyay Center for Healthy Aging featured the co-authors of a best-selling book on the subject--Living to 100: Lessons in Living to Your Maximum Potential at Any Age.
The book's authors, Margery Hutter Silver, a neuropsychologist, and Thomas Perls, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, described the New England Centenarian Study that first sparked their research interest. Designed to detect the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease in people over 100, it instead revealed that cognitive decline in this age group was not inevitable. Moreover, 90% of the centenarians had been completely healthy at 92. The authors wondered what such individuals could teach us about growing older, no matter what our age. They also wondered what factors were most responsible for their long and healthy lives.
These are the kinds of questions that the de Tornyay Center on Healthy Aging will also be answering as nursing faculty continue to work on aging research. Serving as a catalyst to expand the knowledge and science of healthy aging within the larger community-both academic and public-the de Tornyay Center will focus on sharing research and on increasing opportunities for more study by both undergraduate and graduate students at the school.
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