Dean’s Distinguished Scholar Series: Carr presented social inequality research at March 7 event

12 March 2019

Brianna Kraemer

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    Deborah Carr’s research focused on the inequalities of older adults, the basis of her book “Golden Years? Social Inequality in Older Lives” whens he presented for the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences during the Dean’s Distinguished Scholar Series event last Thursday.

Deborah Carr, professor and chair of sociology at Boston University. Photo courtesy of Communique

    The Dean’s Scholar Series is a new program at UCCS where influential speakers from around the country come and speak to students, faculty, staff and community members on campus. The speakers present in honor of one of the several colleges and speak about their life, research and careers.

    Deborah Carr, a professor at Boston University, was recruited by Esther Lamidi, a professor in the sociology department. Both Lamidi and Carr belong to the Population Association of America, a group who studies population dynamics like birth and death.

    Lamidi said that the two have known each other for a long time and research similar topics.

    “I met her several years ago at a conference. She is a well-respected scholar in the field obviously,” said Lamidi. “I was introduced to her when I was still in grad school. She’s just a charming person.”

   “The topic she presented on was health inequalities in later life, among older adults, and how they experience health differently depending on their social status in relation to age, race, social class and other social characteristics,” said Lamidi. “We want[ed] her to be able to motivate students, especially those who want to go to grad school or those who are willing to specialize in areas of our research.”

    Carr’s research was released in January, and during the talk she explained the book and the social aspect of health inequality among older people.

    “For most of us, the older adults we encounter are people just like us. They share our background, they’re our own family members,” said Carr. “So those on the streets, in prison, who haven’t left their home, who don’t have the physical wherewithal; they tend to be out of our sight-lines, so one of my goals is to bring these individuals back into our sight-lines and have the conversation about what old age is like.”

    According to Carr, life expectancy has increased dramatically because of medical advances that help us to live longer lives, as well as the fact that people are surviving childhood and infancy at a higher rate.

    “So again, lots of data but the takeaway here is that even though everyone is living longer, some populations — it tends to be those populations that have more social advantages — are just living a lot longer,” said Carr.

    She used the rest of her time to discuss socio-economic gaps between groups of people based on income and other issues that lead to this divide.

    Health problems tend to come on earlier for those with physically demanding jobs and stress involved lives. Carr explained how this kind of lifestyle can affect a more quickly aging person’s access to the medical care that they need since Medicare is not available until age 65.

    Her discussion focused on the theme that while life is golden for some, it is not so much for others.

    “Those who are growing old with poor health or economic diversity have just as much love to offer their family and have just as much wisdom to offer those populations they volunteer with. We as a nation just need to provide that minimal foundation of housing, food, and good health so people can maximize that potential,” said Carr.

    The Dean’s Scholar Series will continue in April with two more speakers presenting on behalf of the College of Education and the College of Business.