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Emory University's Woodruff Health Sciences Center addresses health care issues affecting the rapidly growing senior population in the United States through research, clinical care, community outreach and education.  Dr. Theodore (Ted) Johnson is the Director of Emory’s Center for Health in Aging.

"The health of senior citizens is a key priority for Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center," says Wright Caughman, Emory executive vice president for health affairs. "Ted Johnson brings not only nationally recognized clinical expertise to his new role, but also a deep understanding of the full range of seniors' health care needs and a commitment to addressing them."

There are compelling demographic reasons to study aging. According to U.S. census records, a wave of 2.7 million Americans will turn 65 by 2011, and each succeeding year the swell grows until it peaks in 2025 with 4.2 million new 65-year-olds.

In the Atlanta metropolitan region, the population age 65 or older grew by more than 30 percent between 2000 and 2005, according to a University of Georgia study. The study also notes that more than 20 percent of the metropolitan region's population will be over age 60 by 2030.

The healthcare implications for seniors in Georgia and the United States are tremendous, according to Johnson. The sheer numbers of older adults will place strains on our healthcare system and the family and professional caregivers who help them. The cumulative effect of that surge, plus the fact that people are living far longer then ever before, poses a looming crisis for the health care system, Johnson says.

Director Johnson earned his medical degree from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and performed his internal medicine residency training at the University of North Carolina. Following a fellowship in geriatric medicine, he earned a master of public health in epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, focusing on the impact of urinary incontinence and other lower urinary tract symptoms on older adults. Johnson is an expert on this topic, with more than 40 publications, and numerous invited talks.  He also serves as the Director of the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology in the Department of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. He is also associate director and Atlanta site director for the Birmingham/Atlanta VA Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC).

By 2030, when the youngest boomers have become seniors, the number of Americans 65 and older is expected to be more than 70 million - nearly twice as many as in 2005, and a jump from approximately 15 percent of the entire U.S. population, according to a report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies.

These older adults aging into this demographic will want a say in their lives - in how they age.

"Even more so than dying, many older adults express a deep fear of being admitted to a nursing home," says Johnson.  "It may be to some older adults as dreaded as a diagnosis of cancer. Minimizing the chance that an older adult will be institutionalized for life should drive our research, clinical, educational and outreach agendas on aging.  This program will allow us to dedicate ourselves to finding solutions, with the vision of eliminating the need for long-term nursing home admission as a routine, expected destination for older adults as they age in Georgia within the next 12 years."

The Center benefits from well-established and successful programs in clinical care, aging research and education at Wesley Woods Center of Emory University, one of the nation's few campuses devoted to the health and well being of older adults. Wesley Woods serves more than 30,000 elderly and chronically ill patients each year through outpatient clinics, a hospital, a skilled nursing care facility and a residential retirement facility. In addition, Emory is affiliated with the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which has an extensive array of geriatric clinical, research and training programs.