President's Opening Plenary Session

Thursday, November 15
10 to 11:30 am

thomas coleThomas R. Cole, PhD, FGSA, is the McGovern Chair in Medical Humanities and director of the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Gerontologists study aging for many reasons including to solve problems. We want to know how to live longer and healthier lives, how to take care of older people who are ill or frail, and how to frame policies and programs that improve quality of life. While we celebrate our success in these areas, it is easy to forget that aging itself is not a solvable problem, although research suggests its impact can be slowed. Aging is still a mystery—a universal element of the human condition. When we get to the edge of scientific knowledge, we need to ask not only how but why we age and what the meanings and purposes of aging are or should be. Longevity alone is not an answer. In search of a more robust gerontology, this  address will offer historical, cultural, and spiritual perspectives that bear on clinical work, social research, and personal experience.

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