Shippee Highlights SPH Aging Work at UN Conference

Charlie Plain | November 2, 2017
Tetyana Shippee smiling
Associate Professor Tetyana Shippee

People in the U.S. and Europe are living longer than ever thanks to advances in public health, medicine, and other factors. However, along with increased lifespan has come added pressures on the national health care, social, and economic systems that care for older people. To help address the problems, the School of Public Health (SPH) represented the U.S. at a United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Europe conference looking at the key issues on Sept. 20 in Lisbon, Portugal.

The overall goal of the conference was to update the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, a document UN member countries use to craft sustainable policies that support and protect older adults.

“Being invited to the conference was recognition of the outstanding work the School of Public Health is doing in aging,” says Associate Professor Tetyana Shippee, a social gerontologist who was the only researcher from the U.S. invited to attend the conference. “It was very exciting for me to be able to share our work in a policy-oriented forum that will have international impact.”

Discussions and presentations at the conference were arranged around three themes: recognizing the potential of older people to continue contributing to society; encouraging their desire and ability to work longer; and ensuring that people can age with dignity.

Shippee spoke on the topic of lengthening the working life of older adults with the particular focus on cumulative inequality perspective, a framework she co-developed that helps account for system-level and individual factors associated with disparities in aging.

“I provided a framework for how to view aging as a life course process, and highlighted how disparities are broader in later life than in earlier stages — and what that means for the efforts that aim to encourage longer working life,” says Shippee. “I also discussed our findings on age discrimination in the workplace and how that might push some workers out of their occupations earlier, pointing to the need for broader, system-level recognition of these disparities.”

Shippee said conference attendees were also keenly interested in the work she and other SPH researchers have done on quality measures in long-term care and the partnership with state and community organizations.

“They’re very interested in identifying best practices for long-term care quality,” says Shippee. “It was great to inform the conversation with the work that we’re doing here in Minnesota on quality measures and seeing the international interest in that.”

The outcomes of the conference can be reviewed in the 2017 Lisbon Ministerial Declaration.

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