New Initiative on Aging Project Tackles Ethical Issues

New Initiative on Aging Project Tackles Ethical Issues

An aging American society finds itself struggling with a host of ethical issues. How will advances in genetic technology affect the aged? How should decisions be reached on end-of-life care? To what extent should members of one generation be responsible for members of the last?


Rachel Pruchno (Photo by Justin Knight)
Boston College researchers supported by more than $10 million in external funding are examining such ethical questions through the fledgling Initiative on Aging.

Director Rachel Pruchno and staff currently are engaged in a National Institute of Nursing Research-funded study of patients with end-stage renal disease and their spouses. Other research projects include a study of mothers of adult children with developmental disabilities, and a study of grandparents raising grandchildren.

The Initiative on Aging is an outgrowth of the Jesuit Institute Seminar on Aging and Ethics, which for the past three years has drawn scholars from the fields of philosophy, law, social work, nursing, sociology, economics, theology, finance, psychology and management.

"By highlighting issues at the intersection of aging and ethics, our faculty are focusing on topics that are both consistent with the mission of Boston College and important to society," said Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael Smyer.

Pruchno notes that more than 55 million Americans are 55 or older, while one in eight Americans is 65 or older. By 2050, the Census Bureau projects, 80 million people will be 65 or older - 19 million of them 85 and older.

"By drawing together faculty and students at BC who are interested in issues at the intersection of aging and society, the Initiative on Aging program will advance the visibility of an aging society on our campus," she said.

Smyer said a lunchtime colloquium series is planned next year to showcase the research of faculty and students taking part in the Initiative on Aging.

-Mark Sullivan

 

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