U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., Tuesday announced that the West Virginia University (WVU) Center on Aging has received nearly $1 million to continue studing the many challenges posed by a growing rural senior-citizen population. Byrd added the funding to a federal appropriations bill last year.

“A rapidly aging population poses a great challenge to a society which is geared heavily toward the young. While America is a nation that is growing older, most of our popular culture continues to target the needs and goals of younger generations,”Byrd said.

“WVU’s Center on Aging has been focusing on rural aging issues for the past decade, examining the differences between aging populations in rural and urban communities. It is the only such center in the world devoted to studying these issues,”Byrd stated.

“The universitys continuing efforts can help to identify new strategies, shape major policy, and promote programmatic enhancements that will better enable society to cope with a growing population of senior citizens living in rural communities. This is critically important in West Virginia, which the Census Bureau has identified as the oldest state in the nation,”the senator said.

The funds will allow WVU to conduct follow-up work to the International Conference on Rural Aging, which was held in Charleston in June 2000.

Originally, Byrd obtained $1 million for the five-day conference, which was sponsored by WVU in collaboration with the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the International Association of Gerontology.