Dec. 20, 2004 — One in five people will be 65 or older by 2030. The University of Utah is gearing up for the inevitable graying of America through a comprehensive, multidisciplinary academic and resource program at its Center on Aging.
The center focuses on research, education, and service projects at the local, regional, and national levels. It administers programs leading to undergraduate and graduate certificates, and a master’s degree in gerontology.
Gerontology is the multidisciplinary study of aging, which encompasses the biological, psychological, sociological, health, and economic aspects of aging.
The interdisciplinary center is a collaborative effort overseen by an advisory board with representatives from the colleges of Nursing, Health, Pharmacy, and Social and Behavioral Science, and the School of Medicine.
“As America ages, its needs change. Through the Center on Aging, we’re helping prepare the next generation of leaders in the field who can address these new challenges,” said Maureen R. Keefe, R.N., Ph.D., professor and dean of the College of Nursing.
Formerly known as the Gerontology Center, the program was launched in 1972, and initially located in the College of Social and Behavioral Science. The center has been based in the College of Nursing for the last 22 years. Federal grants have made the center a regional resource.
The facility’s name was changed to better reflect its comprehensive program. The Board of Regents approved the name change in June 2004.
In the past 32 years, the center has developed and tested models of service delivery, conducted research, collaborated with community professionals, and offered educational programs throughout the Intermountain West.
From 1985 to 1992, it served as the regional Geriatric Education Center with funding from the Bureau of Health Professions. Utilizing support from different federal agencies, the center has conducted research on family care giving, intergenerational relationships, and spousal bereavement, resulting in numerous publications and professional presentations.
“The center has grown tremendously and gained national stature over the years. We’re happy to serve not only our students, but also long-term nursing facilities, government agencies, law enforcement, and the public in general,” said Sue E. Huether, R.N., Ph.D., the center’s interim director, professor, and executive associate dean of the College of Nursing.
In 1997, state funding helped the center expand its academic program, resulting in increased enrollment. In 2001, the center started offering undergraduate and graduate certificate gerontology programs entirely online, making it the first entity within the University and one of the first in the country to do so.
Last year, Scott Wright, Ph.D., associate professor of gerontology and online course coordinator, led a project establishing the online Elder Care and Referral Information Service at uuhsc.utah.edu/eldercare/. The free Web site provides general and customized information on elder-care concerns.
Current research from the center focuses on widowhood, grief and bereavement, family care giving, health promotion and self care, intergenerational relationships, public policy, safety, and medication errors.
In addition, the Eccles Health Sciences Library has a new collection that includes more than 200 new titles and several video series on elder care. For more information about the center, visit www.nurs.utah.edu/centeronaging.