Aging

Photo by Emily Nicholson

Photo by Emily Nicholson

Why It Matters  |  What We Are Doing  |  Who Is Involved  |  Available Courses

 

 

Why It Matters

By 2020, people over 65 will outnumber children under five. Compared to figures at the beginning of the 21st century, by 2050 the number of people aged 65+ will grow from 524 million to 1.5 billion, and the number of those over 80 will grow fivefold.   Those too frail to look after themselves will quadruple in number, and those with dementia will grow from 26 million to 106 million. By 2050, 80% of people 65+ will live in low and middle income countries. Aging will increasingly challenge the resources, planning capacity and ingenuity of North Carolina, the nation and the world.


What We Are Doing

Transformative strategies are needed to promote healthy aging and enable people to age in place in homes and communities adapted to their needs.Gillings School faculty in many of our departments are leaders in aging-related fields such as population trends, dementia, injury prevention, chronic diseases that affect older people, diet and nutrition, and neighborhood adaptation. Our methods to actively engage caregivers and older people themselves at every stage of our research and interventions, particularly those from minority groups and hard-to-reach populations, have been adopted in a number of countries. Our dementia research has won national accolades. We have used large databases to compare treatments for osteoarthritis and methods to delay dementia in older populations, and we have trained dieticians in nutritional strategies for health maintenance and rehabilitation. Much of our work in chronic diseases is highly relevant to older people. In countries like the Philippines, we have studied the impact of diet and nutrition in the early years on disease and frailty as people age. Read More

However, we now realize that more is needed. The world is aging more rapidly than in any time in recorded human history, and the U.S. and nations across the globe, particularly in Asia, are struggling to respond. Worldwide, the societal cost of dementia care alone was over $420 billion in 2009, with a heavy burden falling on family caregivers as well as health care systems.

The rise in the number of older adults brings with it new challenges of how and where to care for this growing population. Traditional long term care options, primarily facility-based services, are no longer acceptable options for many older adults, nor are such services affordable and accessible to many groups. In response, there has been a growing aging-in-place movement, created by community members and health and social services professionals, to support older adults who are aging in their own homes, in their own communities. There also is a growing focus on the opportunities that new technologies may offer to foster independence, promote healthy lifestyles and engage aging communities.

The Gillings School has formed a groundbreaking partnership with Cambridge University in the U.K., MIT AgeLab, the Kenan Flagler Business School at UNC, and local retirement community Carol Woods to develop a strategy for transformative solutions for aging in place through technology. The goal of the collaboration is to implement smart technologies for healthy, successful aging in place, as well as to provide interdisciplinary training to the next generation of leaders in global aging. The collaborators believe that there is great potential for technological innovations – those already developed and others in the pipeline – to prevent many age-related diseases, injuries and conditions, transform the lives of aging individuals, provide better support to caregivers and reengineer homes and communities.

The collaboration will build from the partners’ complementary skills in implementation science, technology, public health, training, and sustainable business solutions. If successful, this alliance will create transformative solutions that are relevant both locally and globally.


Who Is Involved

Our leaders in aging come from across the Gilling School, and include our world-class faculty, staff, post-docs and students.  This overview only captures a fraction of the important research, teaching, and public service efforts in aging at the Gillings School.  Please explore the individual leader descriptions to learn more about their work.

 

Available Courses

Click on the departments below to see what courses are offered that have aging related content.

Biostatistics
  • BIOS 670: DEMOGRAPHIC TECHNIQUES I (Chirayth M. Suchindram)

This course has extensive coverage on techniques to analyze human mortality and longevity (life tables) data

  • BIOS 771: DEMOGRAPHIC TECHNIQUES II (Chirayth M. Suchindram)

This course has extensive coverage on techniques to analyze human mortality and longevity (life tables) data

Epidemiology
  • EPID 799A: SOCIAL EPIDEMIOLOGY TRAINING SEMINAR (Allison Aiello)

Multiple lectures that cover issues in aging, including biomarkers of aging and infection and aging

  • EPID 735: CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGY (Laura Loehr, Gerardo Heiss)

This course is very much aging related as the main topics occur with age. These topics are heart attacks, heart failure, arrhythmia, and stroke. Also includes topics on cognitive aging

  • EPID 899.2: TOPICS IN EPIDEMIOLOGY: EPIDEMIOLOGY OF STROKE (Wayne Rosamond)
  • EPID 770: CANCER EPIDEMIOLOGY AND PATHOGENESIS (Melissa Troester)

This course integrates concepts on aging and specific lectures are exclusively dedicated to this topic.

Health Behavior
  • HBEH 815: FOUNDATIONS FOR HEALTH BEHAVIOR I, GLOBAL HEALTH MODULE (Kate Muessig)

One of the classes focuses on global epidemiologic and demographic transitions which includes understanding how the changing demographics of populations are related to the changing disease profiles. E.g. transition from higher infectious disease burden to chronic disease burden within developed countries due to improvements in medical care, increased life expectancy and general aging of populations. This also includes focus on how many developing countries are dealing with dual epidemic burdens of infectious and chronic conditions because their populations are aging due to increased life expectancy without concomitant improvements in medical systems and capacity.

  • HBEH 756-001: SOCIAL AND PEER SUPPORT IN HEALTH: AN ECOLOGICAL AND GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE (Edwin Fisher)

This course includes a number of papers that address peer support and aging, although this has not been a major focus of the seminar. Opportunities for students to choose aging related topic for project paper.

Health Policy and Management
  • HPM 522: AGING, FAMILY, AND LONG-TERM CARE: CULTURAL, ETHNIC, AND RACIAL ISSUES (Peggye Dilworth-Anderson)
  • HPM 860: POPULATION PERSPECTIVES IN HEALTH (Tom Ricketts)

This course touches on the pressures that an aging population will present to leaders and practitioners in health. The focus for individual students may be on issues directly related to aging.

  • HPM 758: UNDERSERVED POPULATIONS AND HEALTH REFORM (Pam Silberman)

Covers Medicare and some of the ACA provisions related to Medicare

  • HPM 754: HEALTH CARE IN THE UNITED STATES: STRUCTURE AND POLICY (Pam Silberman)

Covers Medicare and some of the ACA provisions related to Medicare

Nutrition
  • NUTR 615: NUTRITION AND THE ELDERLY (Amanda Holliday)
  • NUTR 611: NUTRITION ACROSS THE LIFE CYCLE (Amanda Holliday, Anna Maria Siega-Riz, Penny Gordon-Larsen)

Incorporates aging concepts

  • NUTR 630: NUTRITIONAL COUNSELING AND ASSESSMENT (Amanda Holliday)

Incorporating aging concepts

  • NUTR 642: MEDICAL NUTRITION THERAPY: ACUTE DISEASE CARE (Amanda Holliday)

Incorporating aging concepts

  • NURT 644: MEDICAL NUTRITION THERAPY CASE SEMINAR (Amanda Holliday)

Incorporating aging concepts

Biostatistics
  • BIOS 667: APPLIE LONGITUDINAL DATA ANALYSIS (Lloyd J. Edwards)

General biostatistics course that is not specifically designed for one topic area. However, in this class the professor uses NC EPESE dataset for homework

Epidemiology
  • EPID 799C: ADVANCED METHODS IN PHARMACOEPIDEMIOLOGY (M. Alan Brookhard)

This course does not explicitly deal with issues related to aging, but many of the examples involve studies of elderly populations

  • EPID 893: PHARMACOEPIDEMIOLOGY SEMINAR (M. Alan Bookhart)

This course does not explicitly deal with issues related to aging, but many of the examples involve studies of elderly populations

Health Behavior
  • HBEH 700: FOUNDATIONS FOR HEALTH BEHAVIOR (Angela Thrasher)

This class is not related to aging, although the professor does occasionally include aging-related examples in the lecture. Independent studies and research practica with Dr. Thrasher are specifically related to aging or have aging as a major component of the work.

Health Policy and Management
  • HPM 771: INTRODUCTION TO REGRESSION MODELS FOR HEALTH SERVICES RESEARCH (Marisa Domino)

This is a methods course that would be relevant for anyone interested in health services research, including those focusing on aging

  • HPM 794: PATIENT-REPORTED OUTCOMES MEASUREMENT AND APPLICATION IN HEALTHCARE RESEARCH PRACTICE (Bryce Reeve)

While there are no specific modules in the course focused on aging, it is an important issue. In cancer, a majority of cancer patients are > 65 years, thus “decision-making” and “health-related quality of life” issues in the older populations are constant themes in the class

  • HPM 883: ANALYSIS OF CATEGORICAL DATA (Marisa Domino)

This is a methods course that would be relevant for anyone interested in health services research, including those focusing on aging

  • HPM 886: ADVANCED APPLICATIONS IN HEALTH SERVICES RESEARCH (Sally Clark Stearns)

Due to research interests of the professor, some articles relevant to aging (e.g., statistical analysis of the impact of the Medicare program) are sometimes included in the class, but there is not a focus on aging.

Public Health Leadership
  • PUBH 754: RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS AND METHODS FOR ASSESSING IMPROVING POPULATION HEALTH (Anna P. Schenck)

This course is a research methods course so it does not specifically relate to aging. However, we use articles as a teaching tool, and some of them address aging issues. In addition, students select their own research topic to work with throughout the course, so someone with a research interest in aging could use the course as an opportunity to explore their topic more fully.