Dr. Richard Besdine offers insights about ‘the aging avalanche’ PDF Print E-mail
By Sam Shamoon   
Thursday, 12 September 2013 13:30
Lifelong Learning Collaborative hosts lecture series on healthy aging


Dr. Richard Besdine /SAM SHAMOONDr. Richard Besdine /SAM SHAMOONPROVIDENCE – Richard W. Besdine, M.D., Greer Professor of Geriatric Medicine, was the keynote speaker for the first of 10 lectures on healthy aging that was sponsored by the Lifelong Learning Collaborative and held at Temple Beth-El in Providence.

Besdine, also director of Brown University Medical School’s division of geriatrics and its Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research, noted that elders are increasing in numbers and proportion to the general population. Calling it “the aging avalanche,” Besdine explained to the audience of nearly 230 people that elders also have a heavier burden of disease and disability, greater utilization of services an d higher costs of care, which makes Medicare unsustainable.   With these trends, prevention is becoming increasingly important.

Touching on the usual topics of blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and cancer, Besdine devoted a significant amount time on less obvious ways of prevention and leading a healthy lifestyle.

Many individuals with a longer life expectancy also suffer from the repercussions of poor diet, tobacco, obesity, high blood pressure, physical inactivity and alcohol abuse or misuse, Besdine said at the Sept. 3 kick-off session.

Preventative measures include cessation of smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, maintaining oral health and less obviously, addressing home safety and driving safety measures. He also emphasized emotional health and the need for the elderly to maintain social networks to prevent isolation.

He also recommended advanced directives, which are legal documents that allow individuals to spell out their end-of-life decisions in advance, before becoming incapacitated or unable to express those wishes.

The healthy aging series continues on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 3:30 p.m. at Temple Beth-El, 70 Orchard Ave., in Providence, the location for all future sessions. Dr. John Murphy, an administrator for Lifespan, will speak about clarifying health care reform, the Affordable Care Act and Medicare, as well as offering an overview of the nation’s quickly changing medical landscape.

The series continues for nine more sessions, all on Tuesdays, until Dec. 10. The series’ additional sponsors include Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School, the Rhode Island Foundation and Temple Beth-El.

For more information or to register for this program, visit or call 270–2556.

Sam Shamoon ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is a vice president of the Lifelong Learning Collaborative.


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