First in National Series of Forums on Aging to Be Held Here Wednesday

Issue Date: 
October 15, 2007

The first in a planned nationwide series of roundtable discussions on designing healthy, “livable” communities for older Americans will be held Wednesday at the University of Pittsburgh, hosted by the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH).

State and local officials will join Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg; Donald S. Burke, dean of GSPH; Neil Resnick, professor of medicine and director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging; Steven M. Albert, professor of behavioral and community health sciences and associate chair of research and science for Pitt’s GSPH; and other community leaders and educators at the Governing Summit on Livable Communities.

Events are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Schenley Lounge of the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, with remarks by Nordenberg. During an executive roundtable discussion at 9:45 a.m., participants will discuss the Pittsburgh region’s status as one of the nation’s most livable communities and examine why so many people have remained here after retirement.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 17 percent of residents of Allegheny County are over the age of 65. The national average is 12.4 percent.

Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, and Pittsburgh City Council President Doug Shields are among those expected to participate.

The new series of forums is sponsored by the AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) and is being organized by Congressional Quarterly and its sister publication, Governing, a monthly magazine for governors, mayors, legislators, and others involved in municipal and state affairs.

Congressional Quarterly spokesperson Amanda Springmann said the summit series is trying to “identify and understand” the factors that contribute to making communities more livable for people over age 50. The findings will be compiled into a study that will be published in both Congressional Quarterly and Governing, she said.

CQ chose Pitt’s GSPH to host the first meeting in the belief that the University’s traditional leadership role in studying public health issues both regionally and nationally will “enhance and enrich the discussion,” Springmann said.

Pitt has made a concerted, interdisciplinary effort to research the problems confronting senior citizens since 1999, when Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, and James V. Maher, provost and senior vice chancellor, convened a “council on aging” that included representatives from each of the University’s 16 schools.

The University’s initiatives include the Institute on Aging, which links clinical, educational, and research efforts between Pitt, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and government and community agencies.

Other ongoing projects include GSPH’s Center for Aging and Population Health, which connects its host school to other schools within the University to promote demographic and clinical research into ways to maintain or improve the quality of life for people as they age.