Hispanic Health and Healthcare Policy Research Focus of Conference in National Hispanic Heritage Month

July 1, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — "The 2009 International Conference on Aging in the Americas," hosted by the LBJ School of Public Affairs, will be held on Sept. 15-17 at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center at The University of Texas at Austin campus.

The conference, scheduled during National Hispanic Heritage Month, is the third installment in the Conference Series on Aging in the Americas, a series of meetings on aging in the Hispanic population established in 2001 at The University of Texas at Austin. This year's conference will focus on the topic "Biobehavioral Underpinnings and Social Interaction on Hispanic Health."

The objective of the conference series is to develop consensus on the best means of ensuring healthful aging of individuals of Mexican ancestry in the United States to inform health care policy and research. The conference was organized by leading scholars in minority aging, Dr. Jacqueline Angel, LBJ School professor, and Drs. Keith Whitfield, Kyriakos Markides and Fernando Torres-Gil. They were guided by an Advisory Group composed of eight leading scholars in Hispanic health and aging from across the U.S. and Mexico. The conference emphasizes the intersection of biological, behavioral and social issues pertaining to the older Hispanic population.

Confirmed speakers include Mark Hayward, professor of sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, who will deliver the opening keynote address, Luis Miguel Gutierrez, director of the National Mexican Institute on Aging, who will deliver the closing keynote address, and Dr. Julio Frenk, dean of the Harvard University School of Public Health, who will deliver an interactive presentation via Skype.

Angel, a distinguished scholar on the impact of social policy on the well-being of aging Latinos and other vulnerable groups, said, "Latinos, especially those of Mexican ancestry, are re-shaping the demographic composition of U.S. Latinos, who are the fastest growing demographic group in the country and, in the year 2000, became the nation's largest minority category. The third Conference on Aging in the Americas comes at a time when it is critical to understand how social, biological and behavioral factors work in concert to create unique patterns of aging for this underserved and understudied ethnic group."

The conference will take place during National Hispanic Heritage Month. In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, which was observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a month-long celebration. National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates Hispanic Americans and the anniversaries of independence for the Latin American countries of Costa Rico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua as well as Mexico's independence on Sept. 16.

The conference will also include a poster session for students conducting research on social, psychological and biological factors that affect the health and long-term care of Hispanic elders. Prizes will be awarded for outstanding research projects.

Find more information online about the third International Conference on Aging in the Americas, including a preliminary agenda.

More on the Conference on Aging in the Americas series

The conference series on Aging in the Americas has several goals. One is to promote interdisciplinary collaboration by gathering a broad array of researchers in the fields of Hispanic health, health care policy, and behavioral and social aspects of aging into a single forum to exchange ideas and foster collaborative efforts aimed at addressing key issues affecting the health of aged Latinos.

The first conference, "Aging in the Americas: Critical Social Policy Issues," took place in 2001 and explored the consequences of changing population processes, including migration, on the economic dependency of Hispanic individuals. More information about the first conference, including a conference summary report, is online.

The Second Conference on Aging in the Americas was held in 2005. While a wide variety of issues and opinions were covered at the second conference, three themes stood out: there is a Hispanic aging boom driven in part by the fact that Hispanics live longer than non-Hispanic whites; longer years of life for Hispanics do not translate into healthier years of life; and for many Hispanic populations, particularly those residents of the U.S.-Mexico border, aging must be understood in a bi-national context. More information on the second conference, including a conference summary report, abstracts, videos and transcripts, is online.

For more information, contact: Kerri Battles, Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs, 512-232-4054.