Gerontology at Mankato State University

Newslink Archive - Spring, 1998             


From the director....Reflections on 30

After three decades at MSU, I'll be retiring in June. Next year, the Gerontology program will move ahead under the very able leadership of Professor Carolyn Shrewsbury. And, we have hired a full-time gerontologist! Dr. Kathryn Elliott, Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard, will join the program in August. My very best wishes to Carolyn and Kathryn as they, along with others, continue the work we have begun.

Thirty years pass quickly. Some things change, some don't. When I arrived at MSU in 1968, academic Gerontology was an infant. A few universities--USC, Michigan, Duke for example--were beginning to take seriously the task of educating students about aging and doing research on the many facets of the aging process. Since then, more than half of all post-secondary institutions offer something on aging and many have full programs of study to prepare students to assume professional roles in the aging network--including MSU.

Over these same 30 years the country has come far in reducing poverty among the older population and improving their health care. Yet, today we find Social Security and Medicare among the most controversial issues of the times and there is no shortage of ideas about how to "fix" the problem that too many old people are someday going to create. In 2030 the first wave of baby boomers turn 85-years-old and become especially likely to need help. We are worried and should be.

As the baby boom generation now approaches mid-life, aging is even becoming semi-respectable although a strong undercurrent of ageism still exists. We are still as ambivalent about growing old as ever and still pretty sure that old is not something we want to be. Yet, faced with the only alternative to growing old, many of us are taking our own aging into our own hands. If research tells us anything it is that we as individuals have meaningful control over how we age. Changes in lifestyle--diet, exercise, antioxidants, no smoking-- are tried and true. It appears that our mothers were mostly right. New research offers hope for conquering Alzheimer's disease, genetic engineering and chemical interventions may be anti-aging tools of the future. These and other research directions are fortunate, especially in light of the societal "problem" of aging and the personal challenges posed by extended life. By delaying the degenerative and disease-related processes of aging, we hope to both increase the length of healthy life and compress the time when we might be dependent on others and expensive services.

We are not free of other challenges either. We need to remodel our thinking about aging and being old. We need to move toward an age-neutral society where deprecatory judgments are not leveled on people because of the gray of their hair. Living long is to be prized and prepared for. Those who retire before 65 and live into the 80's or more may live up to a third of their lives in "retirement." That is too long to float idly on the surface of life waiting to die. Programs such as Elderhostel point us toward viewing later life as a time of growth and development. Volunteer opportunities give structure to continuing drives to contribute. Older people are a resource not to be wasted. The "third age" is coming to be seen as a time of life marked not only by crisis but also by opportunity...opportunity to grow and to serve.

Around the world, aging is taking center stage. Thirty years from now we will know things about aging we never dreamed of today. Let us hope that we are able to couple this knowledge with compassion, understanding and respect. It is a road we all shall walk. Age well. Help others do the same.

Dave Janovy

New Directions for the Gerontology Program

Dave Janovy has done a masterful job in developing MSU's gerontology program from its birth to its current status, offering graduate and undergraduate programs, adult and community education, the research capacity of the Center on Aging, and close working relationships with the Aging Network. I know I speak for all of us in giving Dave our thanks for where he has brought us and our best wishes as he moves on. We are extremely pleased to have a position devoted entirely to gerontology.

Dr. Kathryn Elliott brings a strong gerontology background, energy and enthusiasm to this position. Gerontology is an inter- and multi-disciplinary program. Dean Coultrap-McQuinn's strong support is also an important asset. During the next academic year of transition, I will be depending on all of you to help maintain the excellence of our programs and to continue their growth and development. Please send your advice and suggestions for making this transition a fruitful one. Working together we will continue in the directions Dave so ably set. I look forward to working with all of you.

Carolyn Shrewsbury

Gerontology Students and Faculty Meet

The gerontological meeting was beneficial and informative. As students we had the opportunity to meet people who had similar interests and concerns regarding older adults. It was fun to share our experiences and knowledge with each other.

We learned about the increasing need for workers with gerontological backgrounds in the corporate, education, social and health care sectors. As the population ages, there will also be a need for gerontologists to develop and manage retirement programs, education programs, international volunteer opportunities, housing and long term care services.

An interest was expressed in redeveloping the MSU Gerontology Club. Watch the Newslink and the Gerontology bulletin board for information or contact: Erin Miller or Sarah Mangen through the Gerontology Office at 389-1563 or Marilyn Frank at 389-5677.

Rose M. Hull Scholarship

The Rose M. Hull Endowment was established by Mrs. B.H. Chesley in memory of her mother Rose M. Hull. Through the endowment's funds, the Gerontology program at Mankato State University will award two $350 scholarships for the 1998-99 academic year. The purpose of these scholarships is to recognize and encourage distinguished study in the field of gerontology and to provide financial assistance to gerontology students preparing for a career in the service of older adults. Eligibility requirements for an award are: 1) declared gerontology minor; 2) full-time study as a junior or senior during the period of the award; 3) commitment to and promise for a career in the service of older adults. If you meet the eligibility requirements, we encourage you to apply for this award immediately. Application forms may be obtained from Dave Janovy in the Center on Aging/Gerontology Program office in Armstrong Hall 307 I. For further information, please call 389-1564.

Nursing Assistant Enrichment Program (NAEP) Update

The Nursing Assistant Enrichment Program (NAEP) will be concluding its pilot year in June. St. Luke's Lutheran Home in Blue Earth and Pleasantview Good Samaritan Center in St. James have been the pilot sites for the program. Each site has had 10 - 15% of their nursing assistants as members of the NAEP groups. The groups have covered empowerment, communication, and system change issues. Enrichment activities have been sponsored for all nursing home staff at the participating sites. Positive organizational changes are also being considered at each of the facilities as the result of NAEP activities.

In order to share the NAEP program plan and curriculum with other interested nursing homes, a second year grant application has been submitted to the Minnesota Women's Fund, which is the organization providing funding for the pilot year. This second year funding would be used to produce train-the-trainer materials and conduct trainings so NAEP groups could be facilitied throughout southern Minnesota, and potentially the rest of the state.

MAGEC South has been recording the interest of those who have called us about expanding this program. If your facility would like to be contacted about the potential NAEP curriculum and train-the-trainer program, please call the MAGEC South Office at 507-389-5194

Fall Semester Schedule

Gerontology

Health Science

1453-4/541 (3) Death Education W 6:00

Gerontology

1737-200 (3) Aging: Interdisciplinary Perspectives 01 MW 9:00-10:15

                                                                                 02 MW 11:00-12:15

1737-601 Seminar in Gerontology T 6:00-9:00

Psychology

1773-4/566 (3) Psychology of Aging T 3:00-6:00

Sociology

1780-4/504 (3) Sociology of Aging TR 2:00-3:15

1780-4/505 (3) Sociology of Death WF 9:00-10:15

Social Work

1781-4/519 (3) Social Work and Aging W 6:00

Each Semester:

Gerontology

1737-4/698 Practicum in Nursing Home Administration

1737-4/697 Internship

1737-499/677 Individual Study

1737-694 Alternate Plan Paper Research

1737-699 Thesis

Nursing Home Administration

Accounting

1201-210 (3) Management Accounting I Multiple Sections

Management

1292-200 (3) Intro. to Management Info. Systems Multiple Sections

1292-330 (3) Principles of Management Multiple Sections

Health Science

1453-321 (3) Medical Terminology MR 3:00-4:15

Political Science

1768-4/563 (3) Public Personnel Administration TR 12:00-1:15

Sociology

1780-4/504 (3) Sociology of Aging TR 2:00-3:15

Each Semester:

Gerontology

1737-4/698 Practicum in Nursing Home Administration

* Nursing Home Administration students should contact Dr.Janovy as soon as possible regarding the practicum that is required of all students in Nursing Home Administration.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate students interested in applying for a graduate assistantship in Gerontology for next year should file applications with Dr. Janovy as soon as possible.

Tentative Spring Semester Schedule

Gerontology

Family and Consumer Science

1439-4/543 (3) Older Adult Nutrition

1439-4/574 (4) Residential Management

Health Science

1453-4/541 (3) Death Education (probable)

1453-4/555 (3) Health and Aging (probable)

RPLS

1483-4/582 (3) Leisure Needs of the Aging

Biology

1611-4/517 (3) Biology of Aging (probable)

Anthropology

1725-4/536 (3) Anthropology of Aging (probable)

Gerontology

1737-200 (3) Aging: Interdisciplinary Perspective

1737-4/580 (3) Nursing Home Administration

1737-601 Seminar in Gerontology

Political Science

1768-4/564 (3) Aging: Policy Issues

Sociology

1780-4/504 (3) Sociology of Aging (probable)

Women's Studies

1790-4/545 (3) Women and Aging (probable)

Nursing Home Administration

Accounting

1201-210 (3) Management Accounting I

Management

1292-200 (3) Intro. to Management Info. Systems

1292-330 (3) Principles of Management

Health Science

1453-321 (3) Medical Terminology

Gerontology

1737-4/580 (3) Nursing Home Administration

Sociology

1780-4/504 (3) Sociology of Aging (probable)

Calendar of Events

Local

May

The Challenges of Care: An Alzheimer's Training Program will be at South Central Technical College in North Mankato on May 14 from 8:30 - 4:30. Co-sponsored by MAGEC South and SCTC. For more information, contact the Alzheimer's Association at 1-800-232-0851 or the MAGEC South Office at (507) 389-5194.

September

Dementia, Delirium and Depression in Older Adults, the MAGEC South Fall Conference will be held at South Central Technical College in North Mankato on September 18, 1998. The keynote speaker will be Dr.Eric Tangalos from Mayo Clinic.

Minnesota

June

American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) Biennial Convention will be held on June 2-4 in Minnesota.

* For more information call AARP at (202) 434-2760.

National

May

Older Americans Month 1998

Theme: Living Longer, Growing Stronger in America

Conferences include the following: 1) Idaho Commission on Aging Conference; 2) Massachusetts Governor's Conference; 3) National Center and Caucus on Black Aged Biennial Conference in Georgia; 4) New Hampshire Governor's Conference; 5) New York State Senior Citizens Month Celebration in Albany, New York.

* For information regarding a specific conference, call the Administration on Aging at (202) 619-0724.

June

Mid-America Congress on Aging Annual Conference will be held on June 15-17 at Wichita State University in Wichita, KA.

* For more information call Lois Lauer Wolfe at (816) 229-5078 or fax her at (816) 229-1676.

November

Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Conference will be held on November 19-23 in Philadelphia, PA.

* For more information call GSA at (202) 842-1275.

New Library Material

The Mankato State University Memorial Library has recently received a copy of Caring for elderly parents: Juggling work, family, and caregiving in middle and working class families, written by Deborah M. Merrill, 1997. The call number is HQ 1063.6.M47 1997.

Delving into why children care for elderly parents despite their other responsibilities, and how they manage, Merrill relates caregiving to prior experiences (using life course theory) and to other roles. She studies a small sample of caregivers to determine how one enters the caregiver role, i.e., pathways to caregiving. She finds several pathways: de facto selection, more often a duty for women; selection through family meeting; a parent's choice; a result of coresidence; or voluntary decision. She relates these pathways to other factors, e.g., gender ideology and social class. Merrill concludes that working-class families, especially women, express stronger family ideology and engage in more intergenerational contact, providing more direct care to elders, forming caregiving networks, and using fewer formal services. This is contrasted with more emphasis on personal autonomy and individualism in the middle class. Merrill also makes important policy recommendations, e.g., government subsidized adult day care, paying family caregivers, more flexible and supportive employer policies subsidized by the government. Perhaps her most important point is that stress is reduced when caregivers feel mastery of their role. This book is recommended for all levels. - M.M.Denny, St.Joseph College
.

For program information contact: Director, Gerontology Program, MSU 120, P.O. Box 8400, Mankato State University, Mankato, MN 56002-8400, (507) 389-1563 or e-mail Kathryn Elliott.


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last revised: February 27, 2001
contact: Sara Prosen