Online Program

Aging and environmental: Ethical issues at the interface of aging demographics and environmental challenges

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 5:30 p.m. - 5:50 p.m.

Peter Whitehouse, MD PhD, Neurology, Case Western Reserve University, Shaker Heights, OH
Human populations are aging in most regions of the world, often associated with both falling birth rates and longer-life expectancy. The dual trajectories of climate change and demographic aging threaten to overwhelm social and natural resources, as well as healthcare systems. Climate change will require us to prioritize public health efforts, helping our communities adapt to changes in weather patterns, while at the same time meeting the needs of vulnerable citizens, notably elders and children, our future elders. Older adults, particularly those with chronic diseases, are at greater risk from adverse environmental changes compared to younger adults, although children are also vulnerable.

Specific age-related conditions like dementia raise biomedical ethical issues but also challenge us to think about moral values in broader contexts.  So-called Alzheimer’s disease is on the forefront of many genetic and neuroethical deliberations, which, however, often remain too narrow, relatively neglecting questions about overdiagnosis, overmedication and public health. How can more environmentally and public health oriented bioethics help us move from an unrealistic focus on molecular cures to community prevention? How can the wisdom of elders be harnessed with the fresh energy of youth to create sustainable communities? What are our responsibilities for future generations of humans, as well as other species? How do all these issues demand a more integrative ethical framework that can serve, as Van Rensselaer Potter once asserted, as a bridge to the future?

Learning Areas:

Basic medical science applied in public health
Chronic disease management and prevention
Environmental health sciences
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
List major ethical issues in dementia research and care, ranging from genetics to end of life care Differentiate the nature and priorities of biomedical ethics, public health ethics, and environmental ethics in relationship to dementia Compare differences and similarities in these ethical domains using health care issues across the life course

Keyword(s): Ethics, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: MD-PhD from Hopkins. Faculty at Case Western Reserve and University of Toronto working in these areas Expert in dementia (neurology and cognitive science). Trained in bioethics (MA Case) Published in all relevant areas including genetics, ethics, end of life care, environmental issues like climate change. Grant recipient on multiple NIA grants including ELSIE and PI on several Member Aging, and Ethics Sections APHA
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.