San Francisco State UniversityA-ZSearchCalendarNeed help?News

SF State News
SF State News Home
SFSU in the News
Events Calendar
Gator Sports News

Expert commentary
Expert Commentary 1
Expert Commentary 2
Expert Commentary 3

For Journalists
News Releases
Faculty Experts
Public Affairs Staff

For Faculty
Submit a News Item
Be an Expert Source
Working with the  Media

SFSU Publications
SFSU Magazine

Public Affairs

'Age tsunami' stirs up international collaboration

April 15, 2005

Photo of a group of baby boomers on a San Francisco cable car"Baby boomers are not just an American phenomenon," says Anabel Pelham, professor of gerontology. "Most countries in Europe are facing the same challenge in health and human services delivery that we are in the U.S. ... This age wave is a tsunami!"

The largest generational group in world history is reaching the age that requires more medical care and social assistance, like in-home therapies and accessible clinics. There are 74 million boomers in the United States alone. As a result, geriatric professionals worldwide agree that existing programs will soon be overwhelmed if action isn't taken to expand services and delivery.

"Our mission as gerontologists over the next decade is to find new models for delivery of health services and clear the paths to reach it," Pelham says.

This mission is off to a good start with $210,000 in support from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education of the United States Department of Education. SFSU and two other U.S. universities were awarded three-year grants to develop an international curriculum in gerontology in collaboration with three European universities.

Joining SFSU in the project are faculty and students from Miami University in Ohio and Oregon State University. Funded by European Union sources, the participating European Union institutions are: Universidad de Salamanca in Spain, Universitat Heidelberg's Institut fur Gerontologie in Germany and Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.

Students and faculty from the American Universities will get the opportunity to visit and evaluate community services in Europe and their European counterparts will visit communities in the United States.

"We plan to examine what is no longer working," Pelham says. She envisions a global curriculum that will help to prepare future health and human services providers and other gerontology professionals.

Pelham and her U.S. colleagues believe that the institution-based system that serves the boomers' parents may not work for the boomers themselves. "I suspect that we will find ourselves examining a more community-based system," Pelham says. "We need to think of it as a 'Habitat for Aging Humanity.' Generally speaking, the boomer generation has more discretionary funds. ... This too will factor in the kind of models that are developed."

The process starts this June when a small group from SFSU visits Malta to participate in a European masters program in Gerontology Summer School.

All of the collaborators hope to effect change that will reach elders well beyond Europe and the United States. "Ultimately," Pelham says, "we hope we will be able to spare developing countries from making the mistakes we do."

-- Denize Springer


San Francisco State University

Home     Search     Need Help?    

1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132    (415) 338-1111
Last modified April 15, 2005 by University Communications