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Office of Vice President and
Chief of Staff
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Phone: (239) 590-1006
Fax:     (239) 590-1066

Press Release


Local Researchers Receive State Awards for Older Adult Services

FORT MYERS, FL - Rep. Carol Green and State Secretary of Elder Affairs Terry White recently selected two local researchers to present at a statewide conference for their best of practice methods used in services for older adults.

Florida Gulf Coast University’s director of the Center for Positive Aging Linda L. Buettner and health science faculty member Suzanne Fitzsimmons were chosen to present their work for developing the college course “Health Promotion for the Mind, Body and Spirit” and for expanding the Delta Society affiliate “Gulf Coast Pet Partners” during the statewide Best Practices ExCHANGE in Tampa.

Buettner says the college course is a first of its kind taught specifically for people with mild Alzheimer’s disease. Before this course, education across the board was directed primarily at family or professional caregivers and not the client. The new course, which requires collaborative community involvement, focuses on teaching methods for promoting and maintaining optimal health.

Gulf Coast Pet Partners is a certification course for pet owners and their animals that applies an innovative approach to the traditional concept of animal-assisted therapy in aging services. Currently, 30 certified human-animal “teams” volunteer weekly to deliver animal-assisted therapy services to older frail adults who love animals at over 15 locations in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto and Lee counties. Monthly, the teams visit over 400 long-term care residents throughout Southwest Florida. Research has demonstrated that one animal-assisted therapy visit per week significantly reduces loneliness and depression.

For more information, contact Buettner at (941) 590-7497 or, or visit the the Center web site at

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