FSU’s new Institute for Successful Longevity wraps up inaugural lecture series

Neil Charness, the William G. Chase Professor of Psychology at Florida State.

A burgeoning research center on personal longevity concluded its Fall 2013 lecture series with a discussion on the quality of life as we age by Dr. Peter Whitehouse, a neurologist from Case Western Reserve University.

Neil Charness, interim director of Florida State University’s new Institute for Successful Longevity, organized the lecture series as a way to attract attention to the new center, which is still getting off the ground.

“We used this series to get the center out in front of the public,” he said.

Whitehouse focused his lecture on the quality of life for older Americans, particularly those either suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or caring for a relative with the disease. Past lectures have looked at the role of aerobic exercise in vascular help and how a targeted diet can help strengthen the skeletal system.

But the series is just the starting point for the institute, which is working now to recruit a full time director and additional faculty and staff. They are also recruiting existing faculty to work with the center, particularly if their individual research interests overlap with the goals of the center.

“The goal is to make use of the expertise that is scattered throughout the university and community,” Charness, Florida State’s William G. Chase Professor of Psychology, said.

For example, Charness has worked with other researchers on how older adults use the Internet and telemedicine. Other faculty researchers have looked at ways to make senior citizens do simple tasks like exercise on a regular basis, which would likely help them have a longer and healthier life. And others are focused on new treatments for medical issues impacting the elderly such as Alzheimer’s.

The institute is also partnering with the College of Criminology to develop curriculum and programming on financial security and safety for older adults.

“These are the sorts of things that get my blood boiling, when I think of older citizens being victimized,” said Criminology Dean Tom Blomberg, who will spearhead the project. “There are so many different scams out there.”

The overall work of the center is part of Florida State’s widespread efforts to play a vital role in the life of the area’s senior citizens by providing classes, programming and lectures all aimed at older residents.

Most recently, the university announced a partnership with Westminster Oaks, a local retirement community, that would give residents access to FSU libraries and also provide students as interns for the facility in a variety of areas.