Sanford Center for Aging 

Pennington Building
(775) 784-4774

The Sanford Center for Aging is a dynamic part of the Division of Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno with innovative statewide collaborative endeavors dedicated to improving the quality of life for older adults in Nevada.  The SCA is the only statewide university-based academic center devoted entirely to improving the health and well-being of Nevada's elder population. Through interdisciplinary gerontological and geriatric education, translational research, and community outreach the Sanford Center for Aging (SCA) is truly "the center" for academics and laypersons alike who are interested in aging.


In the mid-20th century, Carson City pioneers Graham and Jean Cameron Sanford owned the successful Dangberg Land and Livestock Company in Minden, Nevada, south of Carson City. Three years after Graham Sanford's death in 1975, the company was sold and Mrs. Sanford moved to Carson City to care for her elderly mother.

During this period, she envisioned a future for older adults that offered vibrant health, cultural and social opportunities, and dignity of independence. Between 1982 and Mrs. Sanford's death in 1992, she donated substantial sums of money to charities, including a gift of $100,000 to the University of Nevada, Reno in 1985 to establish the Geriatric and Gerontology Center

Mrs. Sanford later designated that 80 percent of her estate be used to establish an endowment for a special university program. Her vision was for the program to develop, implement, and foster academic and applied research, scholarship and statewide collaboration to shape the future of geriatrics and gerontology in Nevada.

In honor of her benefaction, in 1993 the state Board of Regents renamed the existing university program the Graham and Jean Sanford Center for Aging.

Today the SCA is supported financially by the endowment created from Mrs. Sanford's estate, federal and state grants, and philanthropic donations. The center is located on the University of Nevada, Reno's campus in the Pennington Building.

The Sanford Center for Aging has a four-part mission:


  • Home of the prestigious Program of Merit, Gerontology Academic Program
  • Service learning opportunities provide students with real life experiences in the field of gerontology and geriatrics.
  • Interdisciplinary courses developed by the center in gerontology (the study of aging) and geriatrics (hands-on medical care) are taught at the University of Nevada, Reno.
  • Scholarships funded by the center encourage University of Nevada, Reno undergraduate and graduate students to specialize in aging-related fields.
  • Training and continuing-education programs presented or co-sponsored by the center enhance the knowledge and skills of heath-care professionals as well as volunteer caregivers throughout the state.


The Sanford Center for Aging is a vital partner with the State of Nevada's Aging and Disability Services Division and assists the state with a variety of projects including the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) Program Evaluation project and quality management research. Further, the center field-tests innovative programs to deal with critical issues like medication therapy management and self-management of chronic conditions.

Translational Research

The SCA's medication therapy management program was translated from research into a clinical service program in 2005. Certified Geriatric Pharmacists review an elder's entire drug regimen for safety and effectiveness and make geriatric-specific recommendations. Such programs serve the public directly while also advancing knowledge about how people age and about how to serve elder populations more effectively.

Community Outreach

  • Collaboration with community partners provides ongoing community support via development of student internships, community service, dissemination of research findings, and information.
  • SCA is the home of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Washoe County with over 90 locations providing a variety of services from respite care, to dog walking, to docents, to providing companionship for frail, elderly, homebound adults. RSVP also provides a variety of opportunities for persons aged 55 and older to participate more fully in the activities of their community through significant volunteer service. RSVP enrolls volunteers that may be assigned to work at a public agency, private nonprofit organization, or a proprietary healthcare agency or organization that is designated as a volunteer station.
  • The Senior Outreach Services (SOS) program, the largest outreach program under the RSVP, provides supportive and assistive services to seniors at highest risk for nursing home admissions. SOS volunteers serve low income seniors 60 years of age and older, in their own homes to help maintain their independence by providing supportive services such as socialization, transportation, advocacy and referrals. Individuals needing services are typically alone, frail , chronically ill and homebound.
  • SCA faculty serves the community as board members as well as committee members for a variety of community organizations such as the Chronic Disease Coalition and Senior Coalition.


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