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McDaniel events focus on aging and Alzheimer’s disease

Center for the Study of Aging seal.
October 01, 2013

Gerontology students, caretakers and community members alike will find information about various aspects of aging at the Center for the Study of Aging’s Alzheimer’s Symposium Oct. 21 in Decker College Center. 

Experts in the field of aging – including an elder law attorney and geriatric neuropsychiatrist – will give an overview of what caretakers need to do when a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, according to Diane Martin, director of McDaniel’s Center for the Study of Aging (CSA) and coordinator of the college’s Gerontology programs.  Of all dementia cases, Martin said 55 percent are considered Alzheimer’s.
  
To register for the Alzheimer’s Symposium, which is free and open to the public, contact aging@mcdaniel.edu or call 410-857-2500 by Oct. 16. Space is limited.

In observance of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in October, the student Gerontology Club will host a Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Oct. 26 in Memorial Plaza, an event that has welcomed about 80 participants from on and off campus in past years.  During the week of Oct. 21, the group will sell Forget-Me-Nots in honor of those diagnosed with or lost to Alzheimer’s, ultimately to be used in a visual representation of the disease’s impact on campus.

Diane Martin with student.
Diane Martin with a student

At least 30 students are enrolled in graduate Gerontology programs, and 15 current undergraduates have declared the minor. McDaniel’s program was the first undergraduate program to receive the Program of Merit stamp of approval from the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, according to Martin.

With baby boomers hitting age 65 about every eight seconds, it’s no surprise that employment in fields focused on the aging population is expected to grow by 36 percent more than the national average.  Martin’s challenge is to prepare students to meet the needs of this aging population – and in some cases for jobs that don’t yet exist.

To fully encompass the needs of the aging population, Martin feels it is important to also highlight successful aging – whether by establishing mentorship programs between undergraduates and seniors in the community or getting students to consider ways to make a gym more socially inviting to older adults.

“We’re showing what aging truly is,” said Martin about a process that often is viewed with stigma.

By 2030, adults over age 65 will make up 22 percent of the population, while only 21 percent of the population is projected to be under age 17, said Martin, who emphasized that nobody really knows what effect this will have on all aspects of society.