• Aging Well: Emerging Issues for Older Arkansans
    Aging Well: Emerging Issues for Older Arkansans

About This Issue – Fall 2014

Dear Readers, We are all aging. This is a fact. In the United States, the population showing the greatest growth on a percent basis is in individuals between the age of 80 and 90! Individuals of advanced age are no longer “put out to pasture” but instead are or wish to be vibrant contributing members of society. Our goal at UAMS, through a wide ... Read More


Aging Well: Emerging Issues for Older Arkansans

People want to age well. Most want to remain in their homes as long as possible. They want to stay active and contributing members of society. In Arkansas, as with the rest of the nation, people are living longer. While the state’s aging population faces some of the same challenges as the rest of the country — how to remain ... Read More

Photo: Dero Sanford

Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging

When the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging opened in 2000, it was heralded as one of the few freestanding institutions in the United States dedicated to serving the needs of an aging population through education, research and patient care. Thirteen years later, the institute continues to be a leader in geriatrics for Arkansas as well as the nation. ... Read More

Water wellness classes are part of services offered by the UAMS Institute on Aging.

Outpatient Clinic: One Stop Shop Provides Primary and Specialty Care

Seniors find that they can receive most of their primary and specialty care under one roof at the Thomas and Lyon Longevity Clinic in the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. “We developed the clinic to be a one-stop shop,” said Ann Riggs, M.D., clinic medical director and professor in the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics in the ... Read More


Arkansas Aging Initiative: Bringing Geriatric Care Close to Home

Specialized geriatric health care is not always readily available to many aging adults. And in a rural state like Arkansas, it can be even more difficult for seniors to have access to health care that takes into consideration their special needs. Through the Arkansas Aging Initiative (AAI), which is part of the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, UAMS ... Read More

Quintero Berkley and
Linda Willey role play
 as they learn home caregiving skills through
 the Schmieding Home Caregiver Training

Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program: Training Equips Caregivers with Skills

Haron Watkins felt a little lost while caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease. He didn’t know what to do until he found the direction he needed through the UAMS Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program. Watkins recently completed 116 hours of coursework through the program. “A lot of the guilt and anxiety is gone,” Watkins said. “I look at ... Read More

Jim Pickard (right) accompanies his father to his health care appointments at the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging.

Palliative Care: Improving Quality of Life During Serious Illness

There’s more to treating an illness than finding the cure. The UAMS palliative care program focuses on relieving suffering and improving a patient’s quality of life. UAMS began its palliative care program several years ago and was the first in the state to receive an accreditation from The Joint Commission, an honor recognized nationally as a symbol of quality and ... Read More

Attending a caregiver support group led by UAMS social worker Beth Allen (second from right) are (from left) Jeri Fowler, Ann Hedge-Carruthers

Support Groups: Sustaining the Caregivers

Being a caregiver for aging family members or loved ones can be extremely demanding — whether they have dementia or not. The UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging is reaching out to both types of caregivers by offering monthly support groups for each. For caregivers of seniors without dementia, a support group began in fall 2013 to educate them ... Read More

Ann Smith of Little Rock gained the fitness she needed to travel through programs at UAMS.

Outreach: Wellness Program Open to the Community

As Ann Smith, of Little Rock, made her way through the streets of Dublin and around the Ring of Kerry in Ireland in September 2013, she was grateful to be healthy enough to revisit her grandmother’s homeland, a place Smith last saw at age 16. Only seven years before, the 71-year-old UAMS volunteer had been 40 pounds heavier and struggling ... Read More

UAMS Northwest students (from left) Samantha Bolton, College of Nursing;  Trenton Dunn, College of Pharmacy; and Jordan Griffin, College of Medicine help care for Larry Jundt, a U.S. veteran.

Northwest Arkansas: Keeping People in the Community as They Age

Recognizing northwest Arkansas’ reputation as a popular retirement destination, UAMS Northwest is assembling an array of programs that support healthy aging. In planning the Fayetteville regional campus that in 2009 welcomed its first students, a main goal was expanding the number of health care professionals produced in the state. Peter Kohler, M.D., UAMS Northwest vice chancellor, saw an opportunity for ... Read More

Ann Riggs, M.D., is helping to reduce the need for medically fragile patients to be rehospitalized.

Hospital Readmission: Reducing Readmission Rates for the Medically Fragile

When medically fragile patients are discharged after a hospital stay, there’s a high likelihood they will need to be readmitted within 30 days. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at UAMS is working to reduce those rates that cost billion a year nationally. With a 2010 federal grant, UAMS used ... Read More

Support from a loved one is essential
for seniors who are hospitalized.

Hazards of Hospitalization: Preventing Physical and Mental Decline

Hospitals are intended to be places of healing. But for the elderly, hospital stays often result in unintended consequences.  Among the oldest and most vulnerable patients, these consequences may result in additional treatments, such as physical or occupational therapy. They also may limit a patient’s ability to care for themselves when and if they are able to return home.  “No ... Read More

Dees Davis, R.N., (left) and Amy Hester, R.N., have developed a scale used to predict and prevent falls.

Falls and Frailty: Finding Who’s at Risk and Keeping Them Safe

Falling is the No. 1 reason for hospitalization of those 65 years old or older. About one third of those over age 65 will fall annually. Half the people over 80 will fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Falls are the most common and costly of all adverse events reported in hospitals. In 2010, the number ... Read More

Puran Bora, Ph.D., (left) and Nalini Bora, Ph.D., are making strikes in new treatments for age-related macular degeneration.

Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration: Researching and Treating Serious Eye Diseases

Age is one of the biggest risk factors for developing glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, eye diseases that can lead to permanent blindness. As the population is aging at a faster rate, research is offering new less-invasive, cost-effective treatments to restrict these diseases. “Globally, glaucoma is a very hot area for research right now, and I believe we are due for ... Read More

Lisa Hutchison, Pharm.D., works with a student learning to care for geriatric patients.

Educating the Next Generation: Equipping Students in Geriatric Health Care

ecognizing the complexity often encountered in treating older patients, UAMS students are equipped with a more in-depth and increasingly interprofessional exposure to geriatric health care than many of their peers elsewhere. Students draw on the nationally known resources of the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics in the UAMS College of ... Read More

Melodee Harris, Ph.D., R.N., is training the next generation of nurses to care for the mental health needs of seniors.

Geropsychiatric Nursing: Preparing Nurses to Meet Mental Health Needs

As life spans continue to increase, the UAMS College of Nursing is responding to a fresh challenge by preparing the next generation of nurses to meet the needs of older adults with mental health conditions. “There is a whole side to aging that people don’t think about. People are living longer, but we need to know how their mental health ... Read More

Valentina Todorova, Ph.D., 
receives support for her research from the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center.

Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center: Training New Researchers on Aging

For research on aging to continue to advance, scientists dedicated to understanding the aging process have to be around to do the research. Among the main goals of the Arkansas Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center at UAMS is training new geriatricians and gerontologists to find the answers that will result in the continued independence and improved function of ... Read More

Sue Griffin, Ph.D., displays
 a scan of brain inflammation.

Alzheimer’s: Griffin Pioneers Role of Neuroinflammation

Back  in  the mid-1980s Sue Griffin, Ph.D., was having a hard time attracting interest in her radical theory about Alzheimer’s disease. Then she visited UAMS, where she presented her ideas about the role of inflammation in causing the brain’s neurons to self-destruct. Among those listening was the late Robert Fiser, M.D., then-chair of the Department of Pediatrics in the College ... Read More

Emil Mackey exercises to maintain fitness at the Institute on Aging’s Ottenheimer Therapy and Fitness Center.

Nutrition: Shedding Weight Without Losing Muscle Strength

For older people, a shrinking waistline soon may not mean any loss in physical vitality, mobility or muscular strength. When an older person loses fat through dieting or ill health, it also involves a loss of muscle tissue. That loss in turn means physical weakness, a great tendency to fall and a general reduction in mobility. The research of Robert ... Read More

Gohar Azhar, M.D., explores proteins affecting the heart.

Cardiovascular: Constructing a Younger-performing Heart

Gohar Azhar, M.D., is exploring the consequences of having a young heart in an old body, and that’s not a metaphor. By changing one protein in the cardiac muscle of the heart,  Azhar and her colleagues have been able to make the heart perform in an old mouse as though its chronological age was much less. The team has also ... Read More


Longevity: Gene-Mapping Gives Glimpse into Life Span

What do humans have in common with a millimeter-long, translucent roundworm? Based on the findings of Robert J. S. Reis, D.Phil., more than you would imagine. For more than 30 years, Reis has mapped the genes of these roundworms, known as C. elegans, in an effort to understand the genetics of why we age. They are, he said, “a wonderful ... Read More

Community Connector Wanda Kirkwood (right) assists Eva Mayfield in finding
 services that will allow her to
remain at home as she ages.

Community Research: Connecting the Underserved Saves Money

A few years ago, UAMS researchers   found that significant Medicaid savings were resulting from a unique effort to help people in three underserved counties receive in-home long-term care. The savings – .6 million over three years – were accruing from a Community Connector Program based in Phillips, Lee and Monroe counties. The outcome of that UAMS Fay W. Boozman ... Read More

Prasad Padala, M.D., treats a patient for depression using a magnetic stimulator.

VA Geriatric Research: UAMS/VA Work to Improve Veterans’ Health

Prasad Padala, M.D., who is searching for novel ways to improve health in aging veterans, leads a visitor into a clinic room with the only magnetic stimulator of its kind in Arkansas that’s known for its effective treatment of depression.   The Neuronetics Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator was purchased to help entice Padala, a research psychiatrist specializing in geriatrics, to UAMS ... Read More