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Healthy Aging and the Environment Initiative

October 2014

Facts – From the EPA’s Aging and Sustainability News:

7.1 million --The number of grandparents whose grandchildren under 18 years old were living with them in 2012. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10050

2.7 million -- The number of grandparents responsible for the basic needs of one or more grandchildren under age 18 living with them in 2012. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10056

603,118 --The number of grandparents responsible for grandchildren under age 18 and whose income was below the poverty level in the past 12 months. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10059

$46,081--Median income for families with grandparent householders responsible for grandchildren under age 18. Among these families, where a parent of the grandchildren was not present, the median income was $35,296. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10010


Call for proposals: Intergenerational Action on a Global Scale conference is seeking proposals that will enhance the intergenerational field's capacity for developing programs and policies that benefit individuals of all ages, strengthen families, and build more cohesive and caring communities throughout the world.

EPA is resdesigning its Safer Product Label for products. Share you thoughts by October 31st on whether the potential new labels help identify products that are safter for your family's health and the environment.

Reports, Resources, Tools

Check out the CDC's "Your Health-Your Environment" blog You're as young as you feel, which includes resources on topics franing from Health Impact Assessments to age-friendly outdoor spaces and age-friendly transportation.

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013, Current Population Reports
This report presents data on income and poverty in the US based on information collected in the 2014 and earlier Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements conducted by the US Census Bureau.

Housing for Seniors--Information from the Department of Housing and Urban Development
Information for Senior Citizens includes information on housing options for seniors, financial assistance resources and guides, and access to talk to a HUD-approved housing counselor for questions. Also see: Senior Housing: What You Should Know.

Studies, Articles

Bresden DE. Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program. Aging 2014. This report describes a novel, comprehensive, and personalized therapeutic that is based on the underlying pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, and which involved multiple modalities designed to achieve metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration (MEND).

People Who Feel They Have a Purpose in Life Live Longer. Texas Public Radio reported on the analysis of data from the Midlife in the United States study (MIDUS).

Foraster M, Künzli N, Aguilera I, Rivera M, Agis D, Vila J, Bouso L, Deltell A, Marrugat J, Ramos R, Sunyer J, Elosua R, Basagaña X. High Blood Pressure and Long-Term Exposure to Indoor Noise and Air Pollution from Road Traffic. Environ Health Perspect.

Upcoming Events

October 19-22, 2014, Nashville, TN--Leading Age 2014 Annual Meeting.

October 22-25, 2014, Bar Harbor, Maine—Society for Human Ecology Conference, Ecological Responsibility and Human Imagination: Saving the Past~Shaping the Future.

October 27-29, 2014, Boston, MA—PPTox IV, Environmental Stressors in Disease and Implications for Human Health.

Nov 5-9, 2014, Washington DC.—Gerontological Society of America annual scientific conference, “Making Connections: From Cells to Societies.”

Jan 5-9, 2015, Baltimore, MD--14th Annual Partners for Smart Growth Conference.

July 21-24, 2015, Honolulu, HI--Intergenerational Action on a Global Scale Conference.

See a searchable calendar with more events of interest to this working group.

photo from the conference
Click to see photos on the Brie
fings page

Gerontological Association of America (GSA) 64th Annual Scientific Meeting, Boston: Healthy Aging and Environment Across the Lifespan.

Ted Schettler MD MPH “Environment and Health: An Eco-Social Perspective” at the Univ. of MA/Lowell. Watch the video online here.

Ted Schettler MD MPH and Patrice Sutton MPH presented 2 sessions on healthy aging across the lifespan at the 139th APHA conference.

link to photos of the Generations United Conference

Healthy Aging Initiative at the Generations United's 16th International conference link to photos of the Generations United Conferencelink to photos of the Generations United Conferencelink to photos of the Generations United Conference


Coming in December:

A Story of Health

New eBook on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

A Story of Health begins with a family reunion that brings you into the lives of fictional people with chronic illnesses that are a serious problem for the health of our nation – asthma, developmental disabilities, cancer, infertility, diabetes, and cognitive decline. Through their stories, you’ll learn the potential causes of these diseases and conditions, and explore prevention strategies.

They are stories about our health as individuals, families and communities.

The stories highlight the many ways our health is affected by the environments where we live, eat, work, play, pray, volunteer, gather and socialize. These stories also illustrate how we can prevent disease and promote health.

This interactive eBook includes colorful illustrations and graphics, videos from health and policy experts, links to numerous resources, and more, to help readers navigate the complex world of health.

Visit the Story of Health page and access the flyer.

Maria Valenti spoke on healthy aging across the lifespan, and conducted an interactive workshop.

Co-sponsored by PSR Wisconsin.  




Nearly 200 Georgians shared ideas on sustainability, heard remarkable stories of environmental stewardship, learned Tai Chi, and enthusiastically welcomed CHE's Maria Valenti's presention on healthy aging and the environment  at the Atlanta Regional Commission's Gray Goes Green lifelong summit held at the Atlanta Botanical Garden  www.atlantaregional

Of Interest:

Community health studies are often requested when a community feels that a local  environmental pollutant has caused illness or death to residents. The Boston University Superfund Research Project (BU SRP) has developed with partners a Health Studies Guide to assist individuals and community groups in understanding community health studies and when they may be valuable. The first four chapters are now available online.


We helped organize a 2 ½ day retreat on “Ecological Health Across the Lifespan”at Commonweal, with participants from a wide range of disciplines including community planning, healthy food, funding, neuroscience, the arts, behavioral epidemiology, social services for elders, architecture, academia, environmental justice, health affected communities, medicine and more. We examined influences on health of the chemical, food, social, built and natural environments, how they interact, and the systems that drive current practices and policies. We discussed strategic interventions in the systems that would have the greatest impact to promote health and wellness across sectors. We developed a “Charter of Interdependence” with key principles that are universal to human and ecological health. A number of collaborative efforts have emerged from the retreat and the group continues to communicate on important issues.

Past Presentations:

September 17 - Atlanta Georgia - Gray Goes Green -  organized by the Atlanta Area Agency on Aging and other partners.

August 1 - Generations United International Conference - Intergenerational Pathways for Strengthening Communities - Washington DC

March 12-13 - Aging in America -  Chicago - Panels on "Safer Chemicals Healthier Aging: Prescriptions for Prevention" March 12 and "Healthy Generations Across the Lifespan" March 13.

Dr. Ted Schettler speaks about environmental determinants of health across the lifespan at Chicago Aging in America conference

Dr. Ted Schettler addresses healthy environments across the lifespan at Chicago "Aging in America," a national conference attended by over 2500 organized by the American Society on Aging.

Maria Valenti discusses the mulitple environmental factors that influence health with (L-R) Kathy Sykes, US EPA Aging Initiative, Medha Chandra, Pesticide Action Network, and Rick Moody, AARP - at Aging in America breakfast. Kathy, Medha and Rick joined with CHE's Ted Schettler and Maria on two panels at the major conference.

March 3-6, 2013 - Environmental Health 2013: Science and Policy to Protect Future Generations- Boston, Massachusetts – We presented a well-received a poster on March 5th at the Boston conference on “Environmental Determinants of Health Across the Lifespan: Opportunities for Health-Promoting Interventions”. CHEworking group leaders on Diabetes (Sarah Howard) and Fertility (Karin Russ) also presented in oral sessions at this event.

Feb 7-9 - New Partners for Smart Growth - Kansas City, MO Feb 7-9 - "Designing Healthy Environments Across Communities and Generations" -

Photo: Kathy Sykes (US EPA), Yolanda Savage-Narva (America Walks) and CHE's Dr. Ted Schettler discuss healthy communities.

CHE's Dr. Ted Schettler and Maria Valenti joined with colleagues including Angela Russell from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Dr. Arthur Wendel from the US CDC, and Leslie Meehan from the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization to address ecological health and using the County Health Rankings project  to improve community health to a standing room only crowd of over 100.

Dec 10, 2012 - "Healthy Aging and the Environment" poster Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative Statewide Summit in Newton, MA

CHE partners Dr. Polly Hoppin (L) and Ellie Goldberg in front of CHE poster at the MA Healthy Aging summit

Healthy Aging and the Environment at the 2012 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco

CHE working groups and partners presented on a variety of topics at the recent American Public Health Association Meeting in San Francisco, attended by 12,000 health professionals. Panels included "Healthy Environments Across Generations" and a "Lifecourse Approach to Health." Maria Valenti also helped staff the CHE exhibit booth with other CHE colleagues where we helped describe CHE's programs and projects to many hundreds of APHA attendees.

Dr. Ted Schettler speaks about healthy environments across generations at APHA

International Day of Older Persons

"Rapid population ageing and a steady increase in human longevity worldwide represent one of the greatest social, economic and political transformations of our time.  These demographic changes will affect every community, family and person.  They demand that we rethink how individuals live, work, plan and learn throughout their lifetimes, and that we re-invent how societies manage themselves."   UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon          Read more...

Calling all grandparents to help protect our environment and our health. Join the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Coalition to help your grandkids grow up healthier.

Did you make it to the Healthy Environments Across Generations "unconference" at the New York Academy of Medicine in June? If not, you missed an extraordinary happening. But don't despair!  You can be a part of the next steps to building healthier environments across generations. Contact me at mvalenti@igc.org if you want to join the list serve or hear about potential collaborations across sectors and disciplines.

Dr. Peter Whitehouse, Case Western Reserve University and the Intergenerational School, and Dr. Gail Christopher, the Kellogg Foundation, provide closing thoughts at the New York Academy of Medicine event that brought together over 150 people from across disciplines, sectors and ages to imagine a healthier world for all.


link to the pocket guideHealthy Aging and the Environment: A Pocket Guide. A 16-page illustrated guide to environmental factors that influence health across the lifespan, and how you can help make healthier choices and policies for all.

In the next few decades the number of Americans over 65 will nearly double and they will likely face increased diseases and disabilities unless we prioritize disease prevention across the lifespan.

Environmental factors that affect health include the natural, built, food, chemical, psychosocial and socioeconomic environments. Interventions that address the environmental origins of many diseases can be designed to promote health and also benefit ecosystems. The scientific report Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging describes how modifiable environmental factors are key drivers in today's chronic diseases. It explores how these factors interact with the biology of inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin signaling to promote diseases of the aging such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s - as well as the “Western Disease Cluster,” including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, themselves risk factors for neurodegeneration.

And, how these diseases are being driven by dramatic changes over the past century in the food, built, and chemical environments among others.

link to the Today Show segment

View release on The Today Show on MSNBC website.

Goals of the Initiative

CHE’s Healthy Aging and the Environment Initiative builds on the seminal work instigated by the Healthy Aging publication and continues to develop a set of “ecological” or "systems' approaches to healthy aging.

We have created multiple educational materials that can be downloaded, and have presented at over 100 professional meetings and conferences. We are engaging with people at multiple levels of society and organizations that find common cause with our work, including those focusing on health throughout life as well as decision makers in government, business, and communities. Through a multidisciplinary approach to healthy living, our overarching goal is to educate, inspire and help integrate environmental health principles into mainstream health care and society as a basic approach to promote lifelong health and wellbeing. 

Ted Schettler MD MPH presented on healthy aging and environmental issues atAt right: Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, presented on healthy aging and the environment at
the 2010 annual conference of Harvard Medical School and the Cambridge Health Alliance, Boston.

Slide, Audio and Video Presentations on Healthy Aging and the Environment

Environmental Drivers of Chronic Disease – based on the key findings of the Healthy Aging report - complete with references and speaker notes to enable others to share this information. Supported audio presentation by medical co-author Ted Schettler MD MPH.

Healthy People Healthy Planet – 3-part video series by Jill Stein MD – developed for the University of Maryland School of Nursing, and video taped as part of the Boston University Superfund Research Project’s Environmental Health Nursing Collaborative.

Visit our webpage where you can download the full report, report chapters and presentations.

Other recent presentations you can view include:

Ted Schettler MD MPH “Environment and Health: An Eco-Social Perspective” at the Univ. of MA/Lowell. Watch the video online here.

National Council of Churches webinar - Ted Schettler MD MPH, Maria Valenti - see the NCC website

Aging, Environmental Health, Disabilities 5-part Teleconference Series now archived at AAIDD's teleconference page for materials and recordings of the calls.

Erin Boles, MBCC; Cindy Luppi, CWA, and Maria Valenti meet with Erika Paulhus, staff for MA Senator Scott Brown, on safer chemicals issues

(L-R) Erin Boles, MA Breast Cancer Coalition, Cindy Luppi, Clean Water Action and (far right) Maria Valenti meet with Erika Paulhus, staff for Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, on safer chemicals issues

Maria Valenti is the national coordinator of the Healthy Aging and the Environment Initiative of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. Prior to joining CHE in 2010, she served for nearly two decades in leadership positions with Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility where she helped develop and manage national and multi-state environmental health education and training programs including the In Harm’s Way Training Program for Health Professionals, the Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit (materials development, pilot study, training program, and online CE course), and Environmental Drivers of Chronic Disease, focusing on healthy aging across the lifespan. She is a co-author of several major peer-reviewed publications including:

Past Calls

July 10, 2014 --

CHE Partnership Call - Breathing Deep: Air Pollution, Health, and Public Health Policy
Background Information / Resources

Call Blog
Listen to the MP3 recording

October 20, 2008 --

CHE Partnership Call - Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging
Background Information / Resources
Call Blog

Download MP3 Recording


The Collaborative on Health and the Environment
c/o Commonweal, PO Box 316, Bolinas, CA 94924
For questions or comments about the website, email: info@healthandenvironment.org