Associate Professor of Psychology Jamie Bodenlos recently traveled to Ireland with a group of educators from the New York Six Consortium for a project titled Care and Support in Aging Communities. While there, she participated in a roundtable presentation on Partnering to Promote Care and Support in Aging Communities at the Seventh International Symposium on Service-Learning, held at the National University of Ireland at Galway.
The presentation was only one part of a comprehensive journey that brought Bodenlos and her colleagues in contact with professionals and organizations that are meeting the need of that country’s aging population, including visits to the first modern hospice program and the Institute for Lifecourse and Society in Galway.
Traveling with three colleagues from Union College, one from Colgate University, and another from St. Lawrence University, she met with those who work in the field of the aging population and visited facilities like hospices and nursing homes. “We also had the opportunity to go to a Buddhist meditation center, which ties nicely to my work with mindfulness,” Bodenlos says.
The trip was part of a grant funded by the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium, a group comprising six upstate New York colleges and universities, including HWS, that seek to facilitate collaboration and the sharing of expertise and resources. The grant application points to a telling statistic: as is true of many countries, America is aging. In the U.S., people who are 65 and older represented 14.1 percent of the population in 2013; by 2040, that number is expected to increase to nearly 22 percent.
“The members of this project hope to investigate the challenges presented by an aging society — with a particular focus on end-of-life care — in order to enrich their teaching and research, with a broader goal being to understand the factors that make communities more ‘livable’ and contribute to integrated aging,” wrote Bodenlos and her colleagues in the grant proposal.
In addition to the trip to Ireland, members of the group participated in a four-day retreat held at Union College; a one day trip to Hamilton College to hear a talk by Senior Research Associate Nina Glasgow from Cornell University, an expert on New York’s aging population and rural health; and a number of service learning projects with students who attend the New York Six colleges.
Members of the group have had the opportunity to share syllabi, field experiences, and course ideas to better integrate issues around aging into their classes. They are looking forward to further work on the topic. “The trip has led a small group of us to start working on preparations for a larger grant,” says Bodenlos. “We had some interesting discussions and are excited about moving forward with collaborations.