We are all very familiar with the ways dramatic increases in life expectancy are radically transforming economic, institutional, relational, and congregational life. James Lubben, leading scholar in social gerontology with an active research agenda examining social support networks among older populations, equates the force of this longevity epoch to the transformative impact of the Industrial Revolution. Statistics include:
- The average years lived by a person increased from 47 in 1900 to 77 in 2000.
- The proportion of persons surviving from birth to old age (65) also increased from 39 percent to 86 percent during the 20th Century.
- Current life expectancy in the US is 78, ranked 49th among the nations of the world-the highest ranked country is Macau (84.36 years) and the shortest life expectancy is Angola at 38 years.
- Persons who live to be 65, have life expectancies that reach into the mid-80s.
How should we respond to the inevitable care demands of an exponentially increasing 55+ population of exceptionally vulnerable persons due to illness, loneliness, and poverty? Quality of life suffers as economic support programs, health care systems, and family caregiving resources are marginalized in the press of increasing need. The aging of the Baby Boomer population widens the gap between need and resource, heightening the urgency for more coordinated, responsive, and innovative approaches to care. What are the implications of these compelling realities for ministry and professional practice?
The Diana R. Garland School of Social Work seeks to find these answers. We vigorously work to equip alumni for worldwide leadership in holistic practice and research in gerontology and to produce state of the science resources and practical models for the well-being of older persons, their families, residential care environments, congregations, and communities.
Gerontology at the Baylor focuses on issues of the elderly and their families, drawing together several educational, research and application-based projects focused on improving quality of life for older persons.
The school provides a number of ways to focus on Gerontology, such as:
- Minoring in Gerontology
- BSW and MSW specialization
- Infusion of gerontological content in courses and field placements
- Participation in university-wide initiatives in gerontological education within the Baylor system
2012/13 was a year of expansion of the Gerontology Initiative's social work education and applied research programs, funded by the Danny and Lenn Prince Endowment Fund.
For more information about this initiative, contact:
Dr. Dennis Myers, LCSW