ULM's Gerontology Program Addresses Needs of Seniors in the Community
The University of Louisiana Monroe offers the only Gerontology Graduate Program in Louisiana, and it’s preparing a workforce to work with older adults.
“At ULM, we have a mission to provide health related professions into not just the northeast region of Louisiana but to the entire state,” said Steven Siconolfi, interim Vice President of Academic Affairs for the University of Louisiana Monroe.
"Since we are the only master’s program in gerontology in this state, we have a responsibility beyond our region and provide for the state,” Siconolfi said.
Dr. Anita Sharma, Program Director of Gerontology at ULM, said the senior population will double in the next 10 years. “According to statistics, by 2035 we will have more people over the age of 65 than under 17,” Sharma said.
Siconolfi said the baby boomers are a big impact on the changing of demographics.
“That’s one of the reasons why when we look at Louisiana’s workforce. We need to have a workforce able to service this aging population,” Siconofli said. “Gerontology is going to be able to provide those interdisciplinary connects we see.”
The interdisciplinary link will connect services and healthcare teams more, according to Siconofli. “Gerontology will be one of those leads to put that together,” Siconofli said.
Sharma thinks the combination of health sciences and business technology is a huge advantage for gerontology.
Siconofli agrees that having the Gerontology Program under the College of Business and Social Sciences is an advantage and will help with the business side of health services.
“A lot of times we focus on so much of the health related service that we don’t we don’t realize that services are a business.” Siconofli said. “Understanding how to make that business work, either in a non-profit or a for-profit setting, it takes more than just the desire to serve people.”