URI to host Aging and Health Week March 18-22

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Housing pioneer Tim Carpenter to speak, URI to announce aging and health initiative

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 12, 2013 – In just one week at the University of Rhode Island, a new aging and health initiative will be launched, Tim Carpenter, a pioneer in new housing models for successful aging, will give a lecture and Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts and state Department of Health Director Micheal Fine will be part of a panel that will address aging issues in the state.

And older adults from the community will challenge URI students in Wii bowling and trivia games during the University’s first Aging and Health Week, March 18 through 22.

All programs are free and open to the public, and full details are at http://www.uri.edu/hss/gerontology/ahweek.html

One of the highlights of the week will be the talk by Carpenter, “Transforming Community: The Art of Active Aging” at The 2013 Thewlis Lecture on Gerontology and Geriatrics, Wednesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. in Edwards Hall Auditorium, 64 Upper College Road. A reception begins at 6 p.m. Carpenter is the founder and executive director of EngAGE, a nonprofit that takes a whole-person approach to creative and healthy aging by providing arts, wellness, lifelong learning, community building and intergenerational programs to thousands of seniors living in affordable senior apartment communities in Southern California.

EngAGE sparked the development of and provides programs for The Burbank Senior Artists Colony, a first-of-its-kind 141-unit senior apartment community.

Tina Rosenberg wrote in The New York Times August 15, 2012 edition that the “Burbank Senior Artists Colony is remarkable. The building looks like an upscale hotel but is built for the arts, with studios, a video editing room, a theater and classrooms.”

URI Human Development and Families Studies Professor Phillip G. Clark, director of the URI Program in Gerontology and the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center, said Carpenter’s innovative approach has sparked 20 such communities.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do this in Rhode Island?” said JoAnn Evans, associate director of the Geriatric Education Center, which is based at URI. “We’ve got everything here to make it work.”

“Older adults can realize their creative side, which they may never have known existed,” said Judith P. Sweeney, program coordinator for the center.

The program leads off with a panel discussion, “Aging and Health in Rhode Island, Challenges and Opportunities,” Monday, March 18, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Lippitt Hall Auditorium. Roberts and Fine will join Catherine Taylor, director of the state’s Division of Elderly Affairs.

“Rhode Island has the highest percentage of people 85 and older in the country,” Clark said. “We need to promote health even though there are challenges.”

On Tuesday, March 19, at 10 a.m. in the Memorial Union, 50 Lower College Road, older adults and URI students will mix it up in Generation Swap, an opportunity for students to meet, learn from, inspire and be inspired by a new generation of older adults.

Evans said the program will be coordinated by Emily Anastasia, a sixth-year pharmacy student from Barrington, who just completed an eight-day stay as a resident of South Bay Retirement Living in South Kingstown.

On that Tuesday, each participant in Generation Swap will wear a T-shirt, saying, “Ask me About?”

“Fifteen pharmacy, nursing and physical therapy students will join residents from South Bay and URI’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at four different booths in the lobby of the Memorial Union where they will interact with campus community members,” Evans said. “Older adults will be playing music, and our group of seniors and students will be asking students and others trivia about things experienced by older adults. Students have an opportunity to win a Kindle Fire.”

The South Bay residents will also show a video they made, based on the tune, Call Me Maybe, by Carly Rae Jepson.

“Our older adults will also challenge students to games of Wii bowling, and they better watch out because they play all the time,” Evans said

“This whole week is all about creativity and aging,” Clark said.

On Thursday, March 21 the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute will hold a reception and annual meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Ryan Center.

The week wraps up Friday, March 22 at 10 a.m. in the Alumni Center, 73 Upper College Road, Kingston, with the announcement of “Aging and Health: A New Initiative at URI,” by Provost Donald H. DeHayes, who will also introduce new faculty for the first aging and health cluster. Following comments made during last year’s Academic Summit, DeHayes established a process that allowed academic groups to compete for funding to hire additional faculty in clusters. The three other cluster areas are: Islamic and Mediterranean Studies, Sustainable Energy for the 21st Century, and Water and Water Resources: Blue Environment and Economy.

“The provost will be announcing the hiring new tenure track faculty in the social sciences to augment faculty already in the health sciences conducting research on health and aging,” Clark said. “They will work in the areas of aging and health care policy, aging and health economics and aging and health disparity.”