The mission of the Houston Gerontological Society is to disseminate knowledge to professionals working in the field of gerontology, who are then encouraged to implement this knowledge in order to strengthen and enhance current and future services for the geriatric population. HGS provides gerontological information and practical application to professionals and the general public.
Membership is open to all who are interested in the aging process and in enhancing life for the aging population. HGS membership includes physicians, nurses, elder and adult care mediators, social workers, students, attorneys, senior care facility managers, professors, researchers, and other caring community members.
from Early Days of HGS: Some Personal Recollections by Dr. George Niederehe
Dr. Charles M. Gaitz is credited as the founder of the Houston Gerontological Society. Dr. Gaitz was a pioneer in geriatric psychiatry, who from 1966-1985 built and directed gerontological programs at the Texas Research Institute of Mental Sciences (or TRIMS).
Dr. Gaitz’s inspiration was that HGS become a broadly based, multi-disciplinary organization. His interest was in establishing an analogous support organization for those in other fields and disciplines, such as social work, nursing, psychology, sociology, law, and long-term care services. And thus HGS was structured to promote interdisciplinary and inter-institutional cooperation and dialogue at the local level.
The first meeting was held on October 15, 1986. Sixty professionals gathered that night and endorsed the idea of establishing the Houston Gerontological Society, approved the draft bylaws, and elected an initial slate of officers. Dr. Charles Gaitz was elected President, Dr. George Niederehe was elected Vice-President, Mildred Beaman was elected Secretary, and Esther Steinberg was elected Treasurer. Elected to at-large positions on the Board of Directors were Anita Cabelli, Patricia Harmon, Dr. Linda Kaeser, and Nancy Wilson. In the Society’s first year, Eleanor Snow chaired the Membership Committee, Leigh Ann Musser chaired the Communications Committee, Dr. Robert Reichlin chaired the Public Policy Committee, and Dr. Anita Woods chaired the Program Committee. Dr. Woods succeeded Charles Gaitz to become HGS’ second president.
In November 1986, the first regular meeting was held in the format that has remained standard – a dinner meeting with invited speakers. The first speakers were Baruch Brody and Andrew Evans from the Baylor Center on Ethics, who presented on ethical issues in the allocation of geriatric services. Other speakers during that first year included the Director of the National Institute on Aging, T. Franklin Williams, and Texas State Senator Chet Brooks.
Fast forward, in 2016, the Houston Gerontological Society celebrated 30 years of service to the Houston community with Brown University’s famed gerontologist Dr. Richard Besdine (center with purple tie) in a collaborative program with the Brown University Alumni-Houston at the Junior League of Houston.