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World aging conference to be held in capital

by Jennifer Biller

STAFF WRITER

The West Virginia University Center On Aging is organizing an international conference on rural aging.

The conference will be held June 7-11 at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston in collaboration with the United Nations Program on Aging, the World Health Organization and the International Association of Gerontology.

The conference is an opportunity for the world community to examine the issues of aging in rural and remote areas.

"Sixty percent of the world's population over age 60 lives in rural areas," said Robert M. D'Alessandri, M.D., vice president of the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center, which houses the Center On Aging.

Seniors who live in rural areas, such as West Virginia, are often faced with the complications of poverty and limited access to transportation and health care, D'Alessandri said.

The goal of the conference is to improve the commitment to helping rural residents stay healthy. "We hope to develop policy recommendations to go back to the United Nations and help develop strategies to implement these policies," said D'Alessandri.

The conference will offer symposiums, workshops, policy debates, and paper presentations on a variety of topics relevant to rural aging.

Hugh Downs, former co-anchor of ABC news "20/20," and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Art Buchwald will speak.

Other keynote speakers include John Glenn, Senators Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller and Gov. Cecil Underwood.

Other activities include a luncheon with Willard Scott of the NBC "Today Show."

According to conference organizers, the gathering is designed for researchers, clinicians, academicians, health care professionals, advocacy groups, service providers, family and professional caregivers and leaders in the private and public sectors in the field of aging.

For more information or to register for the conference, contact the Center On Aging at (304) 293-2968 or visit the Web site at www.hsc.wvu.edu/rural_aging.

Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1443.

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