By Kim Brauning
The 11th annual Gerontology Conference at BYU “brought generations together in harmony” on Thursday, March 22.
The conference hosted over 300 people ranging in age from 18 to 100, said Steve Heiner, director of gerontology studies at BYU and organizer of the event.
“I”ve been organizing the conference for 11 years and it just keeps getting bigger every year,” Heiner said.
Phileon B. Robinson, who started the gerontology program nearly 20 years ago at BYU, attended the conference.
Robinson is excited about the success of the program and the conference.
“I”m just thrilled with what has happened,” Robinson said. “The professional field is growing and gerontology professionals are able to assist the decision makers in many other fields.”
The keynote speaker of the conference, Kimberly Mulvihill, emphasized this fact: Gerontology and other health issues are affecting the decision makers in other fields, specifically the media.
Mulvihill worked in private practice for 11 years before becoming a medical correspondent at NBC in San Francisco.
Mulvihill”s topic of discussion was “Medicine and the Media.” She looked at the ways in which reporting on health and medical issues has changed and how it affects the general population.
“Over the last 20 years there has been an explosion in the field of medicine,” Mulvihill said. “However, there has also been an explosion in the field of reporting on medical information.”
According to Mulvihill, the “public”s need to know” has superceded elected officials” right to privacy.
Mulvihill used as an example, the changes in the way the health of the presidents of the United States has been reported over the years.
Back in the years of Grover Cleveland”s presidency, media coverage of the president”s health was very limited, Mulvihill said.
However, with the progression of time, media coverage on medical issues has vastly expanded, Mulvihill said.
The media has become an important source of medical information, she said.
“A survey of over 2,200 adults in the United States found that 75 percent of respondents pay moderate to close attention to medical reports in the media,” Mulvihill said.
She also pointed out that the media directly affects the way people look at health-related issues and celebrity health has become an important part of American culture.
This leaves many people following the medical advice of celebrities in the media, Mulvihill said.
“Although presidents, celebrities and their families get top-notch medical care, their choices are not for everyone,” Mulvihill said. “We need to make decisions that are right for us as individuals not necessarily the same choices made by celebrities.”