Faculty voice:

Clare Luz: AgeAlive offers a program for aging

Clare Luz is an assistant professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine and founding director of AgeAlive. She is a nationally recognized gerontologist with extensive clinical and research experience in the aging field particularly related to the home care workforce and the intersection of the arts, humanities and health.

AgeAlive is a recently established program within the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. The timing could not be better. The U.S. population is rapidly aging, which is already having profound and wide-ranging effects on all of us, both individually and collectively, as we face the aging of our parents, partners and loved ones.

At MSU, nearly a quarter of staff and faculty are retirement eligible. Students in a wide array of major fields will be working with older adults once they graduate.

Establishing AgeAlive represents a huge step forward for MSU, which has had a long history of academic programs, millions of dollars in external research funding related to aging and thousands of graduates and retirees worldwide. Yet, we have never had a clear handle on the breadth and depth of these assets and no strategic, campus-wide plan to coordinate such riches.

One of our first goals is to establish a clear inventory of aging related activity in research, teaching, service and outreach that will make it possible to leverage our collective portfolio locally, nationally and internationally. We will use this knowledge to build a bridge across all that is happening on campus related to aging; connect people to vital partners and information through a centralized hub and communication network.

Students, staff, faculty, retirees, alumni and community partners will be able to engage with AgeAlive in various ways such as signing up for our listserv, helping us build the aging asset databank by completing an upcoming survey on aging-related activity, participating in information exchange and attending events currently being planned.

What distinguishes AgeAlive from other university aging programs? Our land-grant mission. Our underlying principles representing a commitment to including all sectors, disciplines and generations; community-engaged partnerships, a holistic view of health, wellbeing and quality of life that includes health care, the arts, culture and other facets of life.

We are working with communities and the AARP on establishing age-friendly communities and plan to meet the Age-Friendly University criteria endorsed by both the World Health Organization and the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education.

Long-range goals include real-world training labs for medical students, social workers and personal care aides; K-12 outreach such as high school technical training and positive aging programs for pre-school and young children; and quality of life programming such as lifelong learning.

AgeAlive grows out of a committee of university and community members who are committed to these goals and have been meeting monthly for the past four years and who early on developed a mission statement and strategic plan to guide their efforts. The group has grown in size and recognition and now participates in discussions across campus on issues and initiatives affecting MSU’s long-range planning.

The founding board is comprised of MSU faculty, staff, retirees, emeriti and community members. It’s an exciting time. We believe this investment will lead to untold advances for MSU in the field of aging and invite you to join us. For more information, email agealiveinfo@gmail.com.