With a median age of 42 years old, West Virginias population is among the oldest in the nation. A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau places the state ahead of only Maine (43.0) and Vermont (42.3) in that category.

To address the needs of the elderly population in the region, West Virginia Universitys Division of Social Work and the WVU Center on Aging will hold the 31st Annual Summer Institute on Aging from June 1 to June 4, at the Waterfront Place Hotel. The Division of Social Work is in WVU s School of Applied Social Sciences.

The event is the states premier conference for clinicians, social workers and service providers to the states aging population.

The conference takes on special importance this year because the Governors Summit on Aging, which normally occurs in the fall, will not be held this year,said Jacki Englehardt, coordinator of professional development and community education in the Division of Social Work.Meeting the needs of professionals working with aging populations is critical to this state and to the profession. WVU and the Division of Social Work are very proud to offer this important professional forum.

The theme of this years conference isChanging Attitudes About Aging.The conference will highlight the many societal and political changes taking place in our country due to the increasing and evolving composition of our elderly population. Workshops include topics such as elder abuse, Medicare updates, physical activity and healthy aging, issues related to community care (grandparents raising grandchildren), death and dying and rural health programs.

Hilda Heady, associate vice president for Rural Health at WVU , and Robert Blancato, president of Matz, Blancato&Associates, Inc., a firm specializing in government affairs, association and coalition management and advocacy services, are the featured speakers.

Heady is also executive director of the West Virginia Rural Health Education Partnerships and program director of the West Virginia AHEC . Her keynote address isChanging Attitudes About Aging.

For more than 40 years, Heady has advocated for rural populations, rural health issues, and community development. Most recently she has helped to bring national attention to the plight of rural veterans.

In 2006, she received the Lifetime achievement award in Rural Health by the National Rural Health Association. She holds a master’s degree in social work from WVU .

Blancatos keynote address,Washington Update,will take place on June 3 and will address the plans and proposed policies of President Obama and Congress as they relate to aging and the elderly.

Blancato previously served as the executive director of the 1995 White House Conference on Aging, appointed by President Clinton. His career in aging policy involves more than 30 years in public service, including serving as staff director of the House Select Committee on Agings Subcommittee on Human Services (1977 through 1988) and as its senior advisor until 1993.

In recognition of Anita Harbert, founder of the Summer Institute on Aging, the second Anita S. Harbert Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of Aging will be presented at the conference. The recipient of this award will be recognized on Wednesday, June 3th at 11:35 a.m. The award presentation is open to all conference participants and the media.

In conjunction with the Summer Institute, WVU Division of Social Work is partnering with the Graduate Social Work Organization to do a service project. Students will collect cans of Ensure, personal care products and new socks for Christian Help, who will distribute all gifts to elderly, low-income clients. Monetary donations are also welcome.

For more information on how to register for the conference and receive Continuing Education Units (CEU) credit, please visit www.wvsioa.org .