University of Louisville institute focuses on sustainable health and optimal aging

University of Louisville institute focuses on sustainable health and optimal aging

The societal phenomenon known as the Baby Boom has impacted every aspect of life since it first burst on the scene following World War II. As these people reach what had been called their senior years, their effect on aging and expectations of older citizens is no less dramatic.

Understanding these societal implications, the University of Louisville Board of Trustees recently created the UofL Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging.

“Through this institute, the University of Louisville will grow the knowledge base related to the aging process, not just biologically, but also in terms of function, environment, culture and socio-economic aspects,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health affairs at UofL. “The need for multi-disciplinary approaches to examine issues that our aging population faces is significant because no issue stands on its own; all are inter-related from a health, social science, legal and policy perspective.”

As envisioned, the institute likely will include faculty, staff and students from nearly every school and college comprising the University of Louisville, including arts and sciences, dentistry, engineering, law, medicine, nursing, public health and social work.

The growth in the population over 65 years of age is significant with more than 40 million people in the United States over the age of 65 at the time of the 2010 census. This is a 13.3 percent increase from 2000. However, that number is expected to reach nearly 72 million by 2030, an 80 percent increase over 2010. In Kentucky, the numbers are nearly as dramatic. The Commonwealth is predicted to see a 56 percent increase in people 65 and older by 2030, reaching just more than 900,000.

No less than seven national senior care companies are headquartered in Louisville. Additionally, UofL houses the Commonwealth’s only fellowship program in geriatrics and has a nationally recognized polypharmacy in the elderly education program.

“Louisville is becoming the epicenter of business activity related to the aging population and this offers significant opportunities for collaboration and partnering for the university to address education, research and advocacy programs for the elderly,” Dunn said.

Further, UofL officials have had collaborative discussions with researchers at other leading universities including Duke University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Mt. Sinai Medical Center, among others.