U-M Survey Explores How Prepared Americans Are for Aging

Plus, other news from local universities
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In this month’s Science Mitten, we look at a survey from the University of Michigan, a study by Michigan State University researchers, and a Wayne State University medical project.

Aging in place requires planning

Nearly 90 percent of Americans ages 50 to 80 say it is very or somewhat important to them to live in their homes when they’re old and infirm, but only 15 percent have given “a lot” of consideration to how to make that happen, according to findings of a survey from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. The National Poll on Healthy Aging, which surveyed 2,277 adults in early 2022, also found that 48 percent of those who live alone don’t have anyone who could provide care to them and only 19 percent of those surveyed are “very confident” they could afford to pay someone to do errands and help them out. 

Gene therapy as climate change resilience

The modification of a sole fatty acid in cowpea plants appears to help them tolerate colder temperatures, which could allow farmers to plant them earlier in the year and avoid the most severe heat of summer, Michigan State University researchers report in a study published in the journal Plant, Cell & Environment. That durability also could help crops grow in a wider range of conditions and locations, says David Kramer, an expert in photosynthesis and bioenergetics at the MSU-Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory. “One of the biggest questions right now is what the best ways are to make plants more tolerant,” Kramer says. “It’s something we need to solve because change is happening so fast.”

Fixing the medical supply chain

Wayne State University researchers are leading a $3.88 million national effort to build a better medical goods supply marketplace that could prevent the shortages that caught the country off guard as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. The effort involves creating an online system called the Rx Product Marketplace Orchestrator that will be capable of efficiently matching fluctuating consumer demands with manufacturers, says lead researcher Kyoung-Yun Kim of WSU’s Smart Manufacturing Demonstration Center. WSU shares the grant from the Department of Commerce with collaborators at Oregon State University and Iowa State University.

This story is from the July 2022 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more stories in our digital edition