Seek Conference aids institute’s role of helping senior citizens

The Pitman Institute for Aging Well at Mill Race Center in Columbus was created to be a resource in helping residents better understand the aging process.

That is important considering that the age 50-plus population segment is Bartholomew County’s largest demographic, by far, at nearly 35 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, and also the fastest-growing segment.

One way the Pitman Institute does that is attracting and hosting conferences that address a variety of topics in that field — such as third annual Seek Conference, held Aug. 24-25 at Mill Race Center.

It offered participants:

  • An opportunity to listen to presentations on topics such as total brain health and community walkability
  • A senior expo
  • Keynote speaker Manoj Pardasani, a national senior center expert who spoke about the changing future for older residents

The conference provided valuable, beneficial information for participants and local aging advocates — even if some was surprising to hear.

Pardasani noted that research he conducted in the Columbus community showed that gaps exist in services for seniors, and misconceptions exist about Mill Race Center. He said that some local officials and agencies are unaware of basic resources for adults 50 and older, and some local residents perceive Mill Race Center as a place only for wealthy senior citizens.

While those findings might be a little uncomfortable to hear, having that information allows local aging advocates to take steps to improve perceptions and better connect all agencies about local services for seniors so no opportunities are missed.

Already, support has arisen to launch a consortium on needs and services for older residents, which demonstrates what the Pitman Institute has accomplished since its inception just a few years ago.

Using new information to better serve the community’s senior citizen population will be a tremendous benefit.