By Kim Brauning
BYU will host the 11th annual Gerontology Conference on Thursday, Mar. 22, in the Caroline Harmon Continuing Education Building.
The conference began in 1989 and is organized by Steven W. Heiner, director of gerontology.
Heiner said he organizes the conference every year to raise awareness.
“I started the conference to bring awareness of aging issues to the university community,” Heiner said. “The population is graying and soon there will be more seniors than teenagers. I want to build a bridge between the university and aging network.”
The theme of this year”s conference is “Bringing Generations Together in Harmony.”
“Gerontology students, aging network people from health care centers and retirees will all be there,” Heiner said. “We have generations coming together and that”s my main objective.”
Heiner said the free conference will be entertaining, fun and educational.
“It”s going to be very educational because most of us are going to get old,” he said.
“When you”re young you need to look downstream because the people that are now elderly were once young.”
Several notable people will be speaking and performing at the conference, Heiner said.
The keynote speaker, Kimberly Mulvihill, is a medical correspondent for NBC and will be speaking on “Medicine in the Media.”
Some other speakers and performers at the conference will include Broadway singer Mindy Smoot, R. Dirk Noyes, director of the clinical program at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, members of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and Nikki Stone, Olympic gold medallist.
The conference will also include a Q&A panel, a gerontology intern workshop with free pneumonia shots and bone density tests, and a free lunch.
Gerontology covers a wide range of issues, so the conference is not just for seniors and gerontology majors, Heiner said.
“Gerontology, the study of aging, is multidisciplinary,” Heiner said. “It involves psychology, sociology, social work, health, science, fitness, recreation and business.”
However, Heiner said the gerontology minor and certification program at BYU has about 70 students and is growing.
“Gerontology is booming because the baby boomers are coming through the pipeline right now,” Heiner said. “There are a lot of them and when you have more numbers that translates into more work opportunities.”
The gerontology major was recently brought under the School of Family Life, said DeAnna Dean of the advisement center for Family, Home and Social Sciences.