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Center for the Study of Aging and Active Retirement established at Coastal

March 1, 2002

The Center for the Study of Aging and Active Retirement has been established at Coastal Carolina University. A joint effort between Coastal's College of Natural and Applied Sciences and School of Continuing Studies, the center provides campus-wide faculty and student research projects related to aging and active retirement and provide opportunities for professional development in the gerontology field.

"This center allows our faculty and students from all disciplines to conduct research on aging and retirement issues," said Val Dunham, dean of Coastal's College of Natural and Applied Sciences. "Through these research projects, retirees will, in essence, become teachers for our undergraduate students. It is critical that all people, especially college-age students, understand aging and its effect on their parents, grandparents and other family members. We must find out more about the aging process because caring for older adults has become a lost art in the United States."

According to Dunham, the center's activities are a natural fit for Coastal and the area. The university already does extensive research on the Grand Strand's tourism industry and has academic programs related to tourism and golf. "The retirement community is growing very fast and we must address its needs as more and more senior adults make this area home."

The center will help direct Coastal's Gerontology Certification program; support faculty and student research on aging and related issues; coordinate student internships on aging; provide training and teaching for professional health care workers in aging and for non-professionals in issues related to aging, including adult development and aging, care taking, retirement planning; develop and expand university-community partnerships in support of programs for the elderly and active retirees; and facilitate programs and services developed and organized by the School of Continuing Studies.

"The number of Horry County residents 65 and older grew nearly 50 percent from 1990 to 1999," said Peter Balsamo, dean of Coastal's School of Continuing Studies. "With such a large number of members in Coastal's Lifelong Learning Society and our proximity to so many active retirees, we feel the establishment of this center will aid us in the development of our programs that are geared toward serving the needs and wants of senior adults."

Ridgewood on the Green, a retirement resort under development near Carolina Forest in Myrtle Beach, is the charter corporate sponsor of the center.

For more information, contact Balsamo at 349-2648 or Dunham at 349-2202.