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Gerontologists at Wayne State School of Social Work create website on urban aging

August 25, 2015

A team of Wayne State social work researchers studying the unique needs of city-dwelling older adults has created a website to promote scholarship and best practices around the issue.

Established last year, the School of Social Work Urban Aging and Health Affinity Group aims to strengthen the geriatric workforce through the development and dissemination of cutting edge educational and training programs, research, community engagement, and partnerships to promote successful aging within an urban and global context. To assist these efforts, the group last month launched a website offering information on the affinity group’s members and objectives, its progress and publications, and on educational and training opportunities for social workers and students.

Led by Associate Professor Faith Hopp, director of the School of Social Work’s Ph.D. program and coordinator of its Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Program, the affinity group leverages and integrates the expertise of the school’s nationally renowned aging experts. These include:

  • Dean and Professor Cheryl Waites, an expert on healthy aging, intergenerational relationships and culturally responsive practice
  • Assistant Professor (Clinical) Cassandra Bowers, who as coordinator of the B.S.W. Program oversees an interprofessional training program through which Wayne State’s undergraduate allied health students visit seniors in their homes
  • B.S.W. Director Associate Professor (Clinical) Fay Martin, the school’s education technology coordinator and coordinator of the B.S.W. online degree program (Where Online Works!/WOW!), who researches behavioral addictions, risk taking, and antisocial behaviors among urban elders
  • Assistant Professor (Clinical) Anwar Najor-Durack, director of the school’s Office of Field Education
  • Assistant Professor Tam Perry, an expert in housing transitions and their impact on seniors’ health and well being.
  • M.S.W. student Vanessa Rorai, research assistant in Perry’s Relocation Lab

Among other things, the website includes a blog to update the public on the affinity group’s activities, which include conducting interviews with aging experts to be presented to the Council on Social Work Education and the Gerontological Society of America this fall. Also this fall, Hopp – whose areas of expertise include intervention research and policies affecting people facing chronic disease and end of life issues, as well as telehealth systems and chronic illness care – will co-present a continuing education workshop titled “Confronting Ageism: An Agenda for Social Workers.” Hopp will be joined by Peter Ostrow, a member of the affinity group’s advisory board (http://agingnthed.weebly.com/advisory-board-members.html) and a retired social worker from Jewish Vocational Services.

The affinity group has also created the School of Social Work’s newest learning community, Promoting Older Adults from Practice to Policy, to increase awareness of the concerns of older adults on Wayne State’s campus. The interdisciplinary learning community will engage bachelor’s-, master’s-, and doctoral-level students from all schools and colleges to increase understanding of the needs of older adults and expose students to career paths in aging.

Members of the learning community attended the 28th Annual Issues in Aging conference (photo, above), which was held May 11-12 in Dearborn and co-sponsored by the Wayne State Institute of Gerontology.

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