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The Challenges of Our Aging Society

Over the past 100 years, we have witnessed enormous change in the size of the aging population in the U.S. - from around 1 out of every 25 persons in the early 1900s to around 1 out of every 4 or 5 persons in the 21st century. Because older adults represent the fastest growing segment of society, our universities must provide leadership, training, and scientific advances to meet their diverse needs.

The mission of the Institute on Aging of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is to promote, through excellence in multidisciplinary research, education, and practice, the health and well-being of the rapidly-expanding aging population in our local community, state, and society at large.

At the UW-Madison Institute on Aging, we are jointly focused on addressing the problems of aging, which include diseases and impairments (e.g., osteoporosis, dementia, Parkinson's, glaucoma, mobility problems) and the challenges of later life (e.g., widowhood, retirement, caregiving, relocation) as well as the potential of aging, which refers to the notable strengths, resources, and vitality of those in their 70s and beyond. Our goal is to understand the many factors (biological, psychological, social) that promote resilience as people age and to translate this knowledge to innovative educational and community intervention programs. As such, we see the present as a time of unprecedented opportunity to change the fundamental meaning of "old age."

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