The Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging was launched in 2016 to recognize United Church Homes’ most generous benefactor and to create a learning and teaching center where professionals, caregivers, ministers and others can work together to improve the quality of life for older adults.
The late Ruth Frost Parker, a business and church leader from Sandusky, Ohio, gave generously to United Church Homes over the years. Her generosity supported educational scholarships, leadership development and capital improvements, especially to Parkvue Community in Sandusky.
At the center’s second annual Symposium that was held Oct. 20 in Columbus, United Church Homes leaders and experts in the fields of gerontology, healthcare and geriatrics discussed Abundant Aging in the 21st Century.
Keynote speaker Dr. Laura Carstensen, a longevity and aging expert, professor of psychology at Stanford University and founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity in Stanford, California, enlightened the crowd by debunking myths and misconceptions about aging.
For example, she discussed the ideas that growing older is associated with loneliness and unhappiness, and that only the genetically blessed live well and long. Instead, Dr. Carstensen said seniors today are living longer, healthier and more productive lives than previous generations. She also said there are psychological and emotional benefits to growing older. She helped us see how this phenomenon is changing the way we view older adults, support them and continue to integrate their wisdom and needs into our society.
The mission of United Church Homes — to transform Aging by building a culture of community, wholeness and peace — demands we must change the way we think about aging.
Given the changes in the area of aging services and the rising number of older adults, United Church Homes’ Parker Center seeks to educate the public and provide intellectual dialogue about older adults, the opportunities available to them, the challenges they face as they age and the impact longevity has on their lives.
By gathering thought leaders like Dr. Carstensen and others whose work impacts various aspects of elder living — physical, social and spiritual — we can provide a safe place for interprofessional dialogue and plan future efforts that create age-affirming communities and supportive services.