Several universities have made inroads lately in educating students about senior living as a career path. Programs at Washington State University, the University of Southern California, and George Mason University have all established curricula to inform students about senior housing and care. And while it is no stranger to senior living after having established a Center for Healthy Aging two years ago, one university is taking its interest in senior housing a step further with a major push to educate the public about the options, costs and considerations around senior living.
In 2014, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) set out to connect numerous departments across the institution in an effort to research healthy aging and promote health and well being in older adults and the San Diego community when it launched its Center for Healthy Aging.
It’s gaining traction as a result: a recent grant by The Mather Institute for Aging will help to enable this goal, as will talks and events throughout the area and the country to raise awareness about senior housing.
But now, the university is not only working to increase collaboration among various industry stakeholders, it’s also making a major push to connect and collaborate with the public to inform and educate about senior housing options.
“If we want to promote health and well-being, the place for it is the home and community—it’s not hospitals or clinics,” says Dilip Jeste, M.D., senior associate dean for Healthy Aging and Senior Care at UCSD and head of the university’s Stein Institute for Research on Aging, and Center for Healthy Aging. “As a geriatric physician, I have become increasingly cognizant of the importance of senior living. It has a major impact on health and well-being. This is something many people are not yet aware of.”
UC San Diego’s Center for Healthy Aging offers talks locally and nationally to help raise awareness about senior living options, and in June will host a second-annual symposium on healthy aging—with this year’s event focused entirely on senior housing.
The San Diego Symposium for Healthy Aging & Senior Living is aimed at giving the public a broad idea about the options available for senior housing—from remaining at home, to assisted living, continuing care retirement communities (CCRC), and more. Keynote speakers will address senior housing topics from cost considerations to quality of life.
“There is a need for educating the public about senior living as it exists today,” Dr. Jeste says. “People know mostly about nursing homes from 10-20 years ago, but today’s senior living is, and especially, tomorrow’s senior living is going to be, so different and so broad. There is a need for a public campaign to inform the public about what senior living is evolving into.”
Last year’s symposium, which focused on health aging, counted 400 attendees with very positive feedback. The attention to senior living and need for more education led the Center for Healthy Aging to shift its focus for the event this year, which will feature keynote speaker Dr. Margaret Wylde, president and CEO of ProMatura Group, a global market research and advisory firm specializing in consumers aged 50 and older, including senior housing consumers.
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The free event will be held June 12 at the UC San Diego campus in La Jolla, Calif., and is aimed at those 50+ consumers, as well as their family members and those working to provide solutions for the aging demographic.
“Clearly, the future for senior living is very bright. It has to be,” Dr. Jeste says. “Senior living is going to play a critical role to ensure well-being and health. There’s a need for partnerships with academic centers and there’s a need for research.”
Editor’s note: The author of this article is a member of the Community Advisory Board for the University of San Diego’s Center for Healthy Aging.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker