University of Wisconsin–Madison

AARP President-Elect to speak about building cultures of health for older adults

October 17, 2017 — Healthy aging is not an individual endeavor. Communities can adopt systems and practices and cultivate environments that foster healthy living across the lifespan. Dr. Catherine Alicia Georges, AARP president-elect, will explore the critical components of communities that support healthy aging when she comes to Madison as the 18th annual Littlefield Leadership Lecturer.

Georges will deliver a free public talk, “Building a Culture of Health for Older Adults through Community Engagement,” on Thursday, October 19, beginning at 5:00 p.m. in the UW–Madison School of Nursing Signe Skott Cooper Hall auditorium. The one-hour lecture includes time for questions by the audience.

The healthcare needs of older adults, an already-large and still growing group, are well established. Currently, forty million Americans are over the age of 65, and this segment of the population is expected to expand to represent 20% of all Americans by 2030. More than 90% of older adults live with a chronic health condition, and one third of them live alone.

Additionally, another 43.5 million Americans are caring for an aging loved one. This care is largely unpaid and continues in most cases for years. While it can prevent or delay the institutionalization of the older relative, it can also lead to reduced wages and increased stress for caregivers. Community, state, or federal assistance programs or support systems can be hard to access or navigate, particularly in rural communities. This combination of growing need and limited support makes aging issues relevant to and often challenging for individuals, communities, and healthcare systems.

“Better utilizing and leveraging the professional nursing workforce will clearly be a critical component to fostering healthy aging across our communities,” said Linda D. Scott, School of Nursing dean. Scott agrees with Georges that nurses are well positioned to assist because their practice is deeply rooted in disease prevention and health promotion. “Nurses are particularly skilled at treating the whole person within complex family, social, and economic systems,” said Scott.

AARP Wisconsin, the state affiliate of the national organization with more than 38 million members, is co-sponsoring the lecture. “Dr. Georges’ deep knowledge and understanding of the interplay between an individual’s health and their ability to age with dignity and purpose is just one of many assets she brings to AARP,” said AARP Wisconsin State Director Sam Wilson. “She is a recognized leader nationally and internationally in the examination of community health impacts on minority populations and to have her here with us in Wisconsin to share her experiences and deep understanding of these issues is a welcome addition to discourse around healthy aging in our state.”

Georges’ lecture at the UW–Madison School of Nursing will explore what she sees at the critical components to wellness for older adults: access to quality healthcare, adequate financial resources, and opportunities for robust social life. Georges will also examine contemporary healthcare policy and explore developments for supporting caregivers and healthy aging in rural communities, a growing concern for much of Wisconsin’s population and the country in general.

Those attending the lecture can park in UW-Madison campus Lot 60 for free after 4:30PM. The lecture will be streamed live through: https://www.youtube.com/user/UWMadSchoolofNursing. The “Live Now” screen will be available once the live stream has begun.

About Dr. Catherine Alicia Georges
Georges is a professor and chair of the Department of Nursing at Lehman College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Well-known in the nursing community for her work to improve the health of the disadvantaged and minorities, Georges advocates for health systems and communities to leverage nurses, one of the greatest resources at their disposal, to improve health across patient populations.

About the Littlefield Leadership Lecture
The Littlefield Leadership Lecture is named after Dean Emerita Vivian Littlefield, who led the UW–Madison School of Nursing from 1984 through 1999. The annual lecture brings to campus national nurse leaders who share insights on and experiences in advancing healthcare and nursing practice.

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NOTE TO MEDIA: Dr. Georges is available for interviews immediately following the public lecture. Interviews can be arranged by contacting Melanie Schmidt at melanie.schmidt@wisc.edu or (608) 263-5240.