Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sustainability and Seniors

Giving the webinar.  Photo by Debbi Honorof.
Last week I gave a climate change webinar to residents of Bristal Assisted Living facilities throughout the New York Metro Region.  The event was organized by Hofstra's Continuing Education program.  I spoke to well over 100 residents about the science of climate change, the history of the environmental and sustainability movements, and climate change policy.  It was a great experience!

I always enjoy the question period whenever I give a talk about my work.  After the webinar, the residents asked a number of important questions.  My favorite one was, "What can we do living in an assisted living facility to try to make a difference on climate change."  Wow!

We often think about how the youth of our world are seeking to make the world a better place, but we have to remember that our aging populations have a role to play as stewards of our planet.

The question got me thinking about issues of environment and sustainability for senior communities.  I did a brief exercise trying to find researchers who focus on sustainability and the elderly and there really isn't very much out there on this topic.  Most of the work that I saw focused on transit and trying to ensure that seniors have access to mass transit.  However, there is so much more that could be done.

After my talk, I spoke with Janine Valentiner, the Director of Business Development for Bristal and she is interested in finding ways to build bridges between our sustainability initiatives and their organization.  I would love to have my majors look at the issue of sustainability within assisted living facilities.  There is so much research that could be done.  Just think about it:  energy and water use, food, transportation, building materials, waste disposal, hazardous medical and biological waste, etc. are all important issues we discuss in communities.  However, I've only found a handful of researchers focusing on these issues  in aging populations (see here and here for examples...note these are behind a paywall unless you are on a university network).

A big thanks to Debbi Honorof of Hofstra's Continuing Education department for inviting me to present to the Bristal residents.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent job Mr. Brinkman
Norma Reno