"Aging has a bad 'rap' for being a downhill slide filled with uphill battles, ignoring the gifts and benefits of the later phases of life," says Dr. Sara Qualls, the Kraemer Family Professor of Aging at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
will be named the 2012 Hero of Mental Health during AspenPointe's fifth annual luncheon on Tuesday, October 2 at the Broadmoor Hotel.
The award recognizes those in Colorado Springs who champion whole-person wellness and spearhead efforts to curb stigma while advancing treatment for mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness and joblessness
"About half of my work is to help older adults and those who serve them learn about the opportunities for growth and development in later life.
The other half of my work is to address the very real health and social challenges that accompany aging.
The latter often involves coaching older adults and their families, service providers, and communities in how to maximize primary control over their bodies and worlds and use secondary control strategies to accept circumstances they might not prefer."
AspenPointe president and CEO Morris L. Roth lauded Qualls, saying, "The growth of our older adult population provides many opportunities for our community as well as challenges that will require the types of collaborations and innovation that Dr. Qualls is spearheading.
Qualls, a member of the UCCS faculty since 1984, is the first UCCS faculty member to hold the Kraemer Family Professor of Aging Studies Professorship..
led efforts to establish a doctoral program in geropsychology at UCCS
, one of only four such programs in the nation.
In the area of research, Dr. Qualls
says, "I maintain an active laboratory that conducts highly controlled lab studies as well as field based research at the sites of our community partners.
I enjoy writing about the intersection of science and practice, workforce development, and a range of mental health issues in books and articles."
excited to see that aging populations are receiving more attention from the media, political interests and service providers and she's
looking forward to a new facility that UCCS
will be opening.
"The Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences will offer a range of health and wellness services for adults, with a special focus on integrated care, aging, and chronic disease management.
This innovative Center is an initial step toward a larger southern Colorado health campus that builds on the excellence of existing training programs conducted in partnership with this community."
offers this homage to octogenarians an beyond:
"The complexity and richness of a life spanning 8 decades is a gift to those of us privileged to hear the story, share the journey, or support the growth of the last phase of life."
Like some others who have been accorded the lofty appellation of "hero," Dr. Qualls
does not picture herself that way at all.
"We all do what we believe will help the world be a better place.
I've been privileged to live and work in a community that is phenomenally supportive of the aging population, and of the university-community partnerships that foster innovation," she