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Expert coming to Cedar Rapids to talk about the changing experience of aging

MIT AgeLab director to speak at Coe College, Mercy Medical Center

Dr. Joseph Coughlin, an expert on aging and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, will speak Tue
Dr. Joseph Coughlin, an expert on aging and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, will speak Tuesday at Coe College and Mercy Medical Center. (Dreamstime/TNS)

CEDAR RAPIDS — An expert on aging will be in Cedar Rapids this week to talk about innovative strategies to serve older adults.

Dr. Joseph Coughlin, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, will speak Tuesday at Coe College and Mercy Medical Center, which are sponsoring his visit.

“Today the experience of aging is changing,” said Kathy Good, director of the Family Caregivers Center of Mercy. “Dr. Coughlin, as the director of the AgeLab at MIT, is an expert on just how this is happening.”

One hundred years ago, the life expectancy of the average American was 50 or so years. By the 1990s, that had increased by about 20 years, leading to the creation of the MIT AgeLab.

There, researchers and experts are working to translate technology into practical solutions that improve Americans’ health and lifestyle through that extended lifetime, according to its website.

Good said the AgeLab’s research aims to help companies gear their products and services to what Coughlin describes as “the pioneering consumer class,” or those who are aging.

“He also applauds volunteering as a way for older people who have retired to find meaning and purpose in their lives,” Good said. “He explains that workplaces need to increase their flexibility to encourage and accommodate older workers.”

Coughlin’s presentation will be part of Coe’s annual Contemporary Issues Forum.

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The Contemporary Issues Forum series, established by Coe College alumnus K. Raymond Clark, “presents the views of distinguished leaders whose work has shaped and altered the course of world events,” according to college officials.

Notable past speakers include former President George H.W. Bush, former Poland President Lech Walesa, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, among others.

At the hospital, Coughlin will speak about the changing experience of the aging population and its impact on society. Good said he also will offer suggestions on what Cedar Rapids can do to become more age-friendly.

Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

If you go

• Who: Dr. Joseph Coughlin, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab

• What: Contemporary Issues Forum series lecture

• When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

• Where: Coe College, Sinclair Auditorium, First Ave. E, Cedar Rapids

• Tickets: Coe students, faculty and staff free; $10 for the general public, $5 for non-Coe college students and seniors.

• Details: coe.edu/box-office; (319) 399-8600

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