OLDER AMERICANS MONTH AT THE UNIVERSITY
As you pursue stories relating to Older Americans Month, please
consider these experts from the University of Houston:
Keep On Truckin’
Driving with a visual impairment may seem impossible, but not so
say faculty at the University Eye Institute’s Center for Sight
Enhancement at UH. Spectacle-mounted telescopes are being studied
for use in spotting signs and objects at a greater distance to increase
lead time and driving confidence. A team of optometrists, ophthalmologists,
certified low vision therapists, occupational therapists and driving
instructors evaluate and train patients before they apply for a
license to drive. Stanley Woo, assistant professor of optometry,
can be reached at 713-743-2375 or firstname.lastname@example.org
and Erika Andersen, certified low vision therapist, can be reached
at 713-743-2379 or email@example.com.
..And Party Every Day
Rock concerts used to attract predominately teenage audiences. These
days, seniors continue to attend performances by the artists they
worshipped decades ago. With senior artists such as the Who, Bob
Dylan and the Rolling Stones still on the road, it’s not surprising
to see grandparents attending these shows with their grandkids.
Joe Kotarba, professor of sociology, can discuss how touring artists
cater to aging fans and why popular music continues to resonate
in the lives of seniors. Reach him at 713-743-3954 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
60 is the New 40
The graying of America will affect various aspects of life, but
the most dramatic may be how society views becoming older. Graying
Baby Boomers are choosing civic projects, travel, new careers and
other activities that defy the rocking chair image. Andrew Achenbaum,
professor in the UH Graduate College of Social Work (and a Baby
Boomer), has written about and researched various issues relating
to the aging of Baby Boomers and their affect on society. Reach
him at 713-743-8070 or Achenbaum@uh.edu.
Longevity by a Nose
While eating light has been shown to lengthen lifespan, just smelling
rich food may actually reverse the benefits of a lifetime of restricting
one’s calories. Research suggests that the beneficial effects
of caloric cutbacks on lifespan may not only depend on the decreased
presence of food, but also on the decreased perception of it. Gregg
Roman, assistant professor in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry
at UH, is collaborating with doctors at the Baylor College of Medicine
to explore this phenomenon in fruit flies and can comment on the
implications of this research for human aging. Reach him at 713-743-5738
We All Fall Down
University of Houston researchers are using biomechanical measures
to evaluate the stability of those with mobility issues, such as
the elderly. It is hoped these innovative methods will lead to practical
ways to restore a stable gait or prevent falls in frail populations.
Max Kurz, associate professor in the UH Department of Health and
Human Performance, also has studied the gait of penguins in hopes
of understanding stability. Reach him at 713-743-2274 or email@example.com.
Graying of Cultural Disparities
Older Americans may be emerging as a highly visible and growing
segment of the population, but within this population are racial
and ethnic minorities who have faced a lifetime of social, economic
and political discrimination and cultural affront. Steven Applewhite,
associate professor in the UH Graduate College of Social Work and
an expert in Hispanic gerontology, says people who are entering
old age face challenges such as health and economic disparities
and changing cultural values and traditions. Reach him at 713-743-8099
Senior citizens can take steps to ensure they are getting the most
from their medications. Patients should have a list of the medicines
they take that includes the names, dosages, what times of day they
take them and their purpose. This list should include over-the-counter
drugs and dietary supplements and be taken to all appointments.
Elderly patients also should keep lines of communication open with
their pharmacists to avoid potential drug interactions or other
problems, as well as keep themselves up to date and educated about
their medications. Jeff Sherer, clinical assistant professor in
the College of Pharmacy, can be reached at 713-795-8307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clearing Things Up
The leading causes of irreversible vision loss affecting the elderly
include age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic
retinopathy. Though the effects may not be reversible, low vision
rehabilitation maximizes the use of remaining functional vision.
At the University Eye Institute’s Center for Sight Enhancement
at UH, faculty provide comprehensive evaluations and rehabilitation
plans to help patients read, work and even drive in some cases,
using such adaptive technology as head-mounted electronic magnifiers.
Stanley Woo, low vision services director, can be reached at 713-743-2375
Vision Rehab after Brain Insult
Brain injury and stroke may result in loss of peripheral vision.
Oftentimes, patients lose one half of their visual scene, making
it difficult to walk around or even read. Optometrists at the University
Eye Institute’s Center for Sight Enhancement at UH are investigating
whether the use of spectacle-mounted prisms and a rehabilitation
regimen can help to overcome this functional loss of vision and
are evaluating whether the dynamic visual field created by scanning
eye movements may compensate for the loss. Kia Eldred, clinical
associate professor of optometry, can be reached at 713-743-1977
Another Reason to Exercise
Most commonly affecting people over the age of 50, Parkinson’s
disease afflicts nearly 1.5 million Americans at a rate of about
60,000 new cases each year. This neuromuscular disease is associated
with the loss of neurons in the brain, reducing the amount of the
chemical dopamine – critical for motor function – in
the body. Some studies have indicated that exercise can increase
physical rehabilitation and protect neurons at an early stage in
patients with Parkinson’s. Vincent Lau, a professor in the
College of Pharmacy, is investigating whether exercise alone or
a combination of exercise and drug therapy can limit or slow the
progress of Parkinson’s or the severity of its symptoms. He
can be reached at 713-743-1276 or email@example.com.
For more information about UH visit the universitys Newsroom at www.uh.edu/admin/media/newsroom.