Group of older people with arms linked

The Privilege of Aging

Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD

With more people living longer, we are approaching the tipping point at which our state, country, and world are impacted by the double whammy of lower birth rates and increased longevity in our senior population. Last year was the first time Minnesota’s population in the 65+ age group was larger than in the 5-17 age group. With the potential crisis of fewer caregivers for more people needing care and the rising impact of age-related diseases like dementia, heart disease, and cancer, many efforts are focused on quality of life—increasing healthspan, as much as lifespan. It is increasingly a focus of our health sciences research, training, and practice.



But not everyone has the privilege of joining that 65+ age group. Far less attention has been paid to another crisis, that BIPOC and rural populations have early death rates nearly twice that of their White urban counterparts. This was also reflected in the distribution of higher mortality rates in these populations from COVID-19. Although these are problems that have a number of root causes, lack of access to health care and lower quality of care have contributed to  preventable health issues.

There are ways we can help Minnesotans age more healthily, and across the University, we are working to do just that, through outreach, research, and unique partnerships. For example, OACA partners with the Minnesota Northstar Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program to aid in the training of geriatrics team care, and the collaboration across the University to advance aging science. What are other age-related initiatives that bring together interprofessional expertise to revolutionize healthy futures?

Advancing Interprofessional Education and Training
Geriatric Education Toolkits

Minnesota Northstar GWEP Geriatric Education Toolkits

The Geriatric Assessment Toolkit is online and available for free. These peer reviewed toolkits provide educators with interprofessional resources for teaching introductory aging content to undergraduate and graduate level learners. Each module includes a digital learning activity to assign to learners and a list of additional teaching resources and learning activities. Educators can select the activities that work best for their class. Most of the teaching and learning activities can be adapted for use in online and face to face classes.

Office of Academic Clinical Affairs Team

OACA Interprofessional Internship Highlight: Office of Academic Clinical Affairs Team

Sara Dasler, BS, MA ‘22, from the College of Liberal Arts, Trang Nguyen, DDS, PhD, from the School of Dentistry, Bethany O’Bryan, BS, DVM, MPH ‘23 from the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Mariah Witt, BS, MMLS ‘21, from the Center for Allied Health Programs are developing student-driven interprofessional experiences within Greater Minnesota, using virtual technology to provide a toolkit and structure for students interested in being part of interprofessional experiences, in partnership with OACA.

Dentistry Model

Dentistry, Engineering Researchers explore COVID-19 Spread and Safety in Dental Offices

A collaborative effort between University researchers and clinicians made a real-life, immediate impact on patient care and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The interdisciplinary team from the School of Dentistry and the College of Engineering brought their unique areas of expertise to the table and engaged in a study of particle spread. The ability to bring engineers, basic scientists, and clinicians together to tackle questions was a remarkable experience in problem solving.
Driving Innovation and Discovery

New Glaucoma Drug Begins Clinical Trials

Glaucoma is a vision impairment that affects three million Americans and is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thanks to a research collaboration of the College of Pharmacy’s Institute for Therapeutics Discovery & Development  and the Mayo Clinic, there is some new hope on the horizon. The team has developed the drug QLS-101, a novel drug designed to lower episcleral venous pressure in patients with glaucoma. Phase I/II clinical trials are currently underway.
Partnering with Communities
Nurse giving a shot

Community-Based COVID Vaccine Clinics

The Community-University Health Care Center recently partnered with the local non-profit organization WellShare International to provide COVID vaccinations for Minneapolis community members. "As part of CUHCC's community-driven health care, this mobile vaccine clinic was an opportunity to engage with Hispanic communities, providing care to those with the highest needs while also limiting barriers to vaccination. This combined response by CUHCC and OACA's Mobile Health Initiative at the vaccine event allowed lots of time for outreach and vaccine education within the communities," said Opy Adesida, CUHCC's mobile health director. Additional vaccination clinics will be held throughout June.

Catchment Community Pilot Grands

Masonic Cancer Center’s Catchment Community Pilot Grants Now Available

The objective of the Catchment Community Pilot Grant program is to provide pilot funding to support community-engaged research projects. Projects must be conducted within a partnership between community-based organizations and academic researchers working to address one of the Cancer Center’s catchment priorities.
U-Wide Events and Opportunities

Why Everyone Deserves a Health and Wellbeing Coach

Join the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing for a webinar on July 15 and explore why everyone deserves a health coach so they can experience ongoing and optimal levels of wellbeing. Every one of us has faced changes in our responsibilities, our routines, and our expectations. People have reported record high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. We know that lifestyle behaviors and social determinants of health play a larger role in our overall health and wellbeing than any medical intervention does. These difficult times have created an opportunity for reflection that has brought to light the desire for new, intentional life choices for many people.


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