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University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Named an Age-Friendly University for its Commitment to Older Adults

Designation recognizes commitment to age inclusivity, promoting more equitable education, research opportunities

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Written by Julia Milzer on January 11, 2022
What You Need To Know

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has become a member of the Age-Friendly University Global Network, an international group of colleges and universities that are committed to championing the needs of older adults in higher education.

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has been designated an Age-Friendly University for its leadership in research, education and care for older adults.

The recognition is part of an international effort endorsed by the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) to create more programs, policies and opportunities for an aging population.

CU Anschutz is the first academic medical campus in Colorado to become a member of the Age-Friendly University Global Network, joining a small group of designated academic medical campuses worldwide.

“People of all ages and abilities benefit from a healthier aging population,” said CU Anschutz Chancellor Donald M. Elliman, Jr. “Our campus has long been committed to helping Colorado’s older adults live healthier lives, and to training future leaders to deliver patient-centered care across the lifespan. We’re excited about the new designation and plan to develop more research opportunities focusing on this community.”

Colorado is planning for an aging population

Colorado has one of the nation’s fastest growing populations of older adults. The Colorado State Demography Office estimates that adults over 65 will nearly double in population from roughly 876,000 to more than 1.6 million from 2020 to 2050. CU Anschutz’s commitment as an Age-Friendly University also comes as Colorado was the third state to be named AARP’s Age-Friendly Livable Communities for older adults.

“Colorado is becoming older and more diverse, providing important opportunities to engage populations underrepresented in our workforce,” said Regina Richards, PhD, MSW, vice chancellor of diversity, equity, inclusion and community engagement for CU Anschutz. “This designation is a testament to our efforts to support a diverse community with new initiatives.”

CU Anschutz is at the forefront as the largest medical campus in the region

Here is how CU Anschutz programs support Colorado’s aging population:

  • Enhancing the student experience: increasing access to opportunities for older adults as life-long learners and those preparing for encore career opportunities.
  • Attracting and retaining diversity in faculty, staff and students: hiring diverse older adults as key research specialists who engage in a wide range of communities. Training younger researchers on how to recruit and retain older adults.
  • Partnering to provide patient-centered care by supporting affiliated healthcare systems: integrating the best geriatric practices into patient care.

In addition, CU Anschutz became the first academic medical campus to pair health professionals from all its schools and colleges with older adults in the community and long-term care facilities for regular phone calls to address social isolation. This is one of several patient and community engagement groups comprised of older adults that routinely provide input and feedback to researchers, healthcare providers and others affiliated with CU Anschutz.

As an Age-Friendly University, CU Anschutz will receive a framework for evaluating how to shape age-friendly programs and practices while identifying gaps and opportunities for growth. The network of global partners offers the opportunity to learn about emerging age-friendly efforts and contribute to an educational movement of social, personal and economic benefit to students of all ages and institutions of higher education. At CU Anschutz, this initiative will be led by the CU Anschutz Multidisciplinary Center on Aging and implemented campus-wide. 

“This designation is another step for our campus to proactively address and develop an infrastructure that promotes better health and equitable, goal-directed care, education and research that recognizes the needs and preferences of older adults,” said Jodi Waterhouse, director of outreach programs for the Multidisciplinary Center of Aging.