Aging Re-Imagined symposium begins March 17

The symposium “Aging Re-Imagined” brings leading scholars, artists, medical professionals and researchers together at Wake Forest who will share insights on four key ideas that inform how we age, and how we think and feel about aging: Mobility, Mind (including memory), Mortality, and Meaning.

The symposium begins March 17 at 4 p.m. with a presentation by and Q&A with Liz Lerman, a famed choreographer known for her work with multi-generational ensembles to dispel the idea that dance is only for youth.

Following the keynote by Jay Olshansky at 6 p.m., the aging symposium resumes on March 18 at Bridger Field House with a full schedule of speakers and presentations. More information can be found here.

“Aging Re-Imagined” came about because of associate professor of dance Christina Soriano and her work teaching dance to people living with Parkinson’s Disease. As a member of Wake Forest’s Translational Science Center (TSC), she is one of many faculty from the biochemical, physiological, psychological, behavioral disciplines and the arts whose goal is to improve functional health in aging through research and academic training programs.

“I had the idea for the symposium because as a TSC member I’ve had opportunities to engage with colleagues I normally wouldn’t cross paths with and there have been times when I was pretty amazed at all the research and work that is going on related to aging,” said Soriano, who is chairing the committee of interdisciplinary faculty that has put the symposium together.

“This symposium isn’t targeting specific diseases but is instead asking what the challenges are that arise as we get older, what does all of that look like in a city like Winston-Salem and how can we all come together and talk about it,” Soriano said.

Co-chair Christina Hugenschmidt, Ph.D., of the Sticht Center on Aging at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said the symposium is highlighting an ongoing national dialogue on aging and that as a medical provider and a scientist, the TSC’s work on aging has given her the opportunity to view the topic from different perspectives.

“As a scientist, the perspective of working with a dancer is definitely not what I get from colleagues at the medical center. So when we talk about patient falls, we talk about balance, but when Christina, as a dancer, talks about falling, she talks about redefining the relationship with the ground,” Hugenschmidt said. “So it’s thinking about the same problems in a very different way, but in a way that adds insight to my own work with patients.”

The symposium will also feature a short film competition, poster presentations and Deac Talks – short 10-minute TedX-styled talks – highlighting the research being conducted by Wake Forest faculty, students and community members around the topic of aging.  The symposium concludes with the viewing of the film “Alive Inside,” which will be introduced by director Michael Rossato-Bennett, as well as the short film competition winners.

The symposium is sponsored by the Office of the President, the Provost’s Fund for Academic Excellence, the Translational Science Center, the Center for Bioethics Health & Society, the Elder Law Clinic of WF School of Law, IPLACe, The Humanities Institute, THRIVE, the departments of physics and health & exercise science, and the Sticht Center.