Grinnell College sociologist Karla Erickson studies “the way people die” and the cultural implications of a rapidly aging population in an era of significant medical advances. As part of her academic research, Erickson trained as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) to “live” the role of those who deliver ongoing palliative care. A retirement community in the town of Grinnell provided her with personal access for her research on the intimate connections between patients, families and caregivers.

Professor Erickson is writing a book titled “How We Die Now: Intimacy, Labor and the Social Organization of Dying,” based on her research, which addresses these vital questions and more:

• What will characterize the aging process, with the elderly expected to outnumber their children in the next 20 or 50 years?

• Who will care for whom as the children of the elderly are themselves aging?

• How much control will we have over our own end-of-life conditions?

• How will families care for loved ones who live far away?

• How do day-to-day interactions impact quality of life?

• What issues emerge as medical technologies elongate life?

Contact Grinnell Communication to arrange an interview—CD

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