Senior Resources » Enhancing Senior Living: de Tornyay Center for Healthy Aging

Enhancing Senior Living: de Tornyay Center for Healthy Aging

Courtesy of Era Living, Suzanne is joined by Professor Basia Belza from the de Tornyay Center for Healthy Aging, part of the University of Washington School of Nursing.


Dr. Belza says, “The mission of the de Tornyay Center for Healthy Aging is to advance the science and the practice of healthy aging through the support of innovations and research, education, and practice. The center was initially endowed by Dr. Riba de Tornyay, who’s one of our former deans at the University of Washington School of Nursing. Her husband Rudy Reba was a trailblazer when it came to nursing as well as gerontology. And so their belief in the center was really that we would accomplish four things. One is that we would foster partnerships with our community partners. We would support the training of the workforce, specifically the nursing workforce. We would fund and promote healthy aging research and we would mentor and support students who were passionate about healthy aging.”

“It’s an incredible partnership. In the early 1990s, one of the graduates of our Ph.D. program was Doctor Heather Young, and she had a faculty appointment. But she also received the position of the Director of Community Health at Ida Culverhouse Broadview, which is one of the Era Living communities. And in that capacity, she really started our relationship. And five years later founded the de Tornyay Center. And so we have had 25 years of this partnership.


“And I would love to be able to give you some examples of things that really have worked well in this partnership. So one is this program called Thrive, creating a therapeutic environment in the Era Living communities. This program was initially developed and evaluated by a team of staff, students, and faculty and then also by Era Living residents and staff. And together the program was developed and evaluated four years ago and the program still continues today.

“We have both faculty and students that every other month come into the communities and provide health lectures. And it’s really up to the individual residents to make choices whether they come – the rooms are typically filled. I gave a lecture last month on brain health and its relationship to physical activity, very well attended. People wanted to know what accommodations I could make, so I could continue to be physically active, and I could be really good with it, but I might be starting to have some knee pain or I might not be able to go as fast as far. So those adaptations are really important.

“One of our students is a professional violinist, and she came and talked about music on the mind. And as part of her presentation, which was standing-room only, she played her violin. And so she got everybody into the mindset of what it’s like when you have music in the background or foreground and how that can help your health. So these lecture series are really critical ways that we build on our partnership and help residents make their own choices as far as ways that they can improve.”

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Originally published November 27, 2023


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