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To advance gerontology and geriatrics education in academic institutions.
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Teaching Gerontology “Abroad”

Puerto Rico (PR) is a tropical island, roughly 100 miles wide x 35 miles tall, located in the northeastern Caribbean. The Island is an unincorporated territory of the United States since 1900. Residents of the Island are US citizens and as such enjoy many of the benefits and bear many of the responsibilities of every other US citizen. One significant difference is our culture: most Puerto Ricans are Spanish speakers and, until recently, most people were Catholic and came from large, very close knit families. 

As in so many other developed and developing countries, in PR every year there are fewer births, people are living longer and many young people have left or are leaving the island for the mainland to find jobs, which means we have a declining and aging population. According to the US Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey, 15.87% of the PR population are aged over 65; 56.6% are female; 52.5% have less than high school education; 51.2% have at least some disability; and most importantly, 39.7% live below the poverty level. Chronic diseases, especially diabetes, are more prevalent among seniors in PR than in the 50 states, and so is depression. So we have a large, mostly female, 65+ population where poverty, chronic disease and disability are widespread.

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Jose Carrion-Baralt

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