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Aging and Geriatric Rehabilitation

Examines social, environmental, and medical interventions associated with successful aging, and evaluates functional outcomes and the impact of minority status on health and disability in older adults. More than 17 million older adults reported the need for some use of long-term care and rehabilitation services in 2005. Sixty-five percent of these individuals are 65 years-of-age and older. Research collaboration takes place with investigators in the Sealy Center on Aging (SCOA), who are internationally recognized leaders in geriatric health care and disability research in minority aging. The goal of aging research investigations is to prevent or reduce disability and enhance the quality of life and functional independence of older adults. Key research projects/programs are highlighted below.

Hispanic Health

Hispanic health research uses a population-based perspective, in which the social and economic context and the behavior of individuals play a central role in the study of how health changes as people age. The Hispanic Established Populations Epidemiological Study of the Elderly (HEPESE) is the largest ongoing investigation in the U.S. of changes in functional status, disability, psychological and behavioral outcomes in Mexican American older adults. The Mexican Health and Aging Study (MHAS) started as a prospective panel study of health and aging in Mexico to examine the aging process and its disease and the impact of social and environmental factors on health outcomes.

Muscle Aging

Research focuses on the mechanisms that lead to loss of muscle mass, strength, function, and independence in older adults and the identification of targets for interventions to preserve independence and accelerate functional recovery from illness. The Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, continuously funded since 2000, focuses on improving physical function and independence in older adults. The focus has evolved over the years from a narrow interest in the mechanisms of sarcopenia to the translation of our findings in patient-centered interventions to improve physical function and independence in older adults.