South Korean researchers observe techniques at Banner Sun Health Institute - Your West Valley News: Topstory

South Korean researchers observe techniques at Banner Sun Health Institute

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Posted: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:00 am

Dr. Thomas Beach removed a heart and brain from containers Monday at the Banner Health Research Institute to show a small delegation of South Korean visitors how researchers use the organs to study the development of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

Beach, the director of the brain and body donation program, talked with the group of 10 researchers about the institute and gave them a tour of the facilities in Sun City, just one of many places they’re expected to visit this week. They also will visit the Sun City Visitors Center and Grandview Terrace in Sun City West.

"It’s an honor that they’ve come to the institute and this community to see how older Americans have organized their lives," Beach said.

The researchers are studying the Sun Cities as a model for better senior health care and lifestyle amenities that could be implemented in their country.

The group will visit a number of places, including Banner Health facilities and the Recreation Centers of Sun City.

"We’re very happy and pleased that they and other groups in the past have come here to look at Sun City," Beach said. "It’s shown to the world that seniors can have independent lifestyles of their own."

Dr. Sang Chul Park, a professor and director at the Seoul National University Institute of Aging and leader of the group, said there is good reason for the researchers to be in Sun City, a community that he said is highlighted in a number of gerontology textbooks.

"Sun City is known all around the world for the people who live here," Park said.

Park said he believes many of the amenities offered in Sun City would help in Korea, particularly Sunchang County, which has a large senior population.

For centuries, generations of families in Korea have lived in the same home sharing their lives under one roof. Not only has this been a part of the traditional Korean culture, it has been an economic-driven decision as well.

But now, older generations of Koreans are seeking out ways to live and age independent of their children. They’re becoming more active and able to care for themselves.

"We really want to develop a similar system, because it’s so fantastic," Park said, referring to housing and health care.

He and the other researchers said they’re impressed with the health care and hospital systems so far.

"People are taken care of very well here," Park said. "We would very much like to adopt a system like this in our country."

Beach said he’s not surprised groups from other countries look to the Sun Cities.

"Many other cultures have come to the conclusion that you can break that mold and not go the traditional route, just as Sun City has," Beach said.

Mitchell Vantrease may be reached at 623-876-2526 or

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