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Lecture to be held today regarding mental health

Haley Herfurth

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The Center for Mental Health and Aging will hold another lecture as part of its Scientific Seminar Series today at noon in the Alabama Institute for Manufacturing Excellence.

The speaker will be Dr. Peter Lichtenberg, director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University.

Lichtenberg’s lecture is titled “Where Science and Practice Converge: Living Alone in Older Age and Issues of Capacity,” where he will discuss his “Home Alone” research.

“His lecture will focus on factors that predict older persons’ ability to return to their homes and live independently following in-patient rehabilitation,” said Patricia Parmelee, director of the CMHA and a professor of psychology. “In particular, the presentation focuses on cognitive functioning, and factors clinical psychologists need to consider in assessing older people’s cognitive capacity to live alone.”

Lichtenberg will discuss a number of factors that determine whether or not older adults are able to return home after rehabilitation. Parmelee said that Lichtenberg will be focusing on cognitive functioning, which is the ability to think, remember and reason.

Lichtenberg, who received his doctorate from Purdue University, has authored five books and over 125 scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals. In addition, he has also received many merits for his work in gerontology, the most recent being the Harry Kelly Award for outstanding leadership in gerontology in 2006.

Lichtenberg’s specific areas of research include mental health in long-term care, geriatric psychology and rehabilitation, as well as the early detection and management of Alzheimer’s disease.

When asked about his work in psychology, and specifically gerontology, Lichtenberg said his interest in the field was sparked not only by his father’s own interest in psychology, but from his relationships with family members.

“My interest stemmed from my family – not just my grandparents, but also my great aunts and uncles. I was very close to several on both sides. I just really wanted to make a career of working with older adults,” Lichtenberg said.

Speaking of his other work in the field of psychology, Lichtenberg said he was inspired by the stories of elderly people with whom he spoke during a school volunteer project in St. Louis.

After traveling around to several nursing homes, apartment complexes and community centers, Lichtenberg said he remembers the excitement he felt after hearing older adults tell experiences from their past. Many of the adults had moved from the South to St. Louis, and Lichtenberg enjoyed hearing about the differences between living in those two places.

“I really found it all to be very exciting,” Lichtenberg said. “It was a lot like history coming alive.”

The lecture is free and open to the public. The speech will be in Room 111 of the AIME building.

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Lecture to be held today regarding mental health