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February 10, 2010

Challenging the way we look at old age

CONTACT: Kavan Peterson
phone: 410-455-1896
email: kavan@umbc.edu

BALTIMORE - Despite our best efforts to ignore or resist it, aging is an inevitable part of life. But Dr. William Thomas, an international authority on geriatric medicine and innovator in long term care, challenges us to welcome aging and see it for its possibilities.

Dr. Thomas, an adjunct professor at the Erickson School at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), will discuss how his interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial perspectives have changed the way we view aging, as the featured speaker in the Petrovich Lecture series sponsored by UMBC’s Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, 7 p.m., Feb. 24 in the The Commons Skylight Room at UMBC. Click here for directions and parking.

Author of “What are Old People For? How Elders Will Save the World,” Thomas is a passionate advocate for holistic approaches to aging and elder care. The book asserts that seniors not only have a vital role to play in society, but are also entering a distinct life stage. Thomas contends that just as Baby Boomers ended the perception of pregnancy and childbirth as a time of illness, so will they change the perception of aging as a negative time of illness, dependency, loss of self and usefulness to society.

Dr. Thomas is creator of the Eden Alternative, a philosophy and movement to deinstitutionalize long term care facilities by offering creative ways to “change the culture” of nursing homes. In spreading the Eden Alternative, Thomas saw that America's nursing home buildings were "aging faster than the people living inside them." This led him to imagine a new approach to long-term that became known as the Green House. Supported by a five-year ten million dollar grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Green House projects are being launched in all fifty states.

Dr. Thomas graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1986, and he was selected by the Mead Johnson Foundation as one of the top Family Medicine residents in the country. Dr. Thomas' work and ideas have been recognized by a number of distinguished awards. He is the recipient of a three-year fellowship from the global nonprofit organization Ashoka, the 12th Annual Heinz Award for the Human Condition in 2006, the America's Award ("The Nobel Prize for Goodness"), and was honored by the Giraffe Project, which gives awards to people who "stick their neck out" to advance the common good.

Copies of “What are Old People For?” will be available for purchase at the event and for signing. For information on the event, call 410-455-2004.

Posted by kavan at February 10, 2010 1:44 PM