Symposium addresses senior issues

Every hour, 330 American adults turn 60, said an alumna at a symposium Thursday.Janice Knebl, the chief of the geriatrics division at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, spoke about the growing senior-American demographic and brought attention to their medical, legal and financial issues.

Knebl’s speech, “Understanding the Older Adult,” was held at the Dee J. Kelly Alumni Center and was hosted by the Center for Healthy Aging and the Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences. There were about 60 people in attendance.

Knebl, a nationally-recognized researcher in aging and geriatric care, focused on the needs of older adults. Those needs included medical, legal, and financial needs and social support for older adults, Knebl said.

Knebl’s purpose was to discuss the opportunities for providing health care to an aging population and said TCU is on the right path.

“I applaud TCU,” Knebl said. “We need more doctors in the aging field, and TCU is ensuring that this happens.”

Barbara Harty, a geriatric nurse practitioner at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, said the implications for the future impact millions of Americans, and their future is greatly affected by the choices our current community makes.

“TCU is doing what more institutions should be doing,” Harty said.

Knebl’s appearance goes hand-in-hand with National Geriatrics Week, which took place Oct. 1-8. Knebl’s symposium wraps up the events at TCU, said Linda Curry, a professor in Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

“TCU is striving for successful aging,” Knebl said. “What can be done here that acknowledges geriatric care?”

Lori Camperlengo, continuing education coordinator at the Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences, said a curriculum is in the process of being developed for a possible major and/or minor in geriatric care at TCU.

As the baby boomber generation grows older, more health care advances are necessary to embrace the change, Knebl said.

“It is vital to our society that we start acting now,” Knebl said. “It won’t be an age wave. It will be an age tsunami when this comes around.”

Knebl said the 65 and older population will increase from 35 million now to 71.5 million by 2030.

“In order to keep up with the current trend, more people should consider becoming more knowledgeable about geriatric nursing,” Knebl said. “This impacts not only the small communities, but our entire world.”

Knebl graduated from TCU in 2002 with a masters of business administration and received a doctorate of osteopathic medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1982.