There are more than 50 million Americans who are aged 65 and older. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that number is expected to be nearly 84 million by 2050. Keeping older Americans healthy and maintaining their everyday lives will remain an important topic for years to come. But people age differently under different circumstances, according to Wardecker.
“One example I give in talking about my work is that it’s very interesting to think that in this day and age, somebody who may be in their 80s or 90s may not have been able to legally marry until they were in their 70s,” Wardecker said. “It’s interesting to think about how that kind of experience might shape your health and your aging compared to someone who is coming of age and may have been 12 in 2015 when gay marriage was legalized, and will now be growing up with that privilege.”
Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute invested in Wardecker’s work through its Bridges to Translation pilot grant program. This program provides funding to Penn State researchers to explore novel research ideas and collect data to apply for more significant external grant funding. The next round of the program’s funding is expected to be announced later this year.