The recently established Center for the Study of Aging and Active Retirement at Coastal has awarded its first research grants as part of a new annual faculty research program. Two study projects, which were chosen from several proposals submitted by faculty members interested in researching issues related to gerontology, are being funded at $2,500 each. Coastal undergraduate students will help collect and assimilate data for both projects.
Coastal psychology professors Linda Palms and Joan Piroch will undertake "A Needs Assessment of Area Agencies for Senior Citizens." The investigators will gather general demographic information from area agencies that serve seniors, including nursing homes, assisted care centers and senior centers. Data will be collected pertaining to the function of different agencies, the number of employees and clients, sources of funding and other descriptive information. One of the purposes of the study, according to Piroch, is to learn from area health care leaders what programs and services they would like to obtain from Coastal's new center to help advance health care services for the area's elderly.
Sara Brallier, an assistant professor of sociology at Coastal, will conduct a research project entitled "Modern Maturity: An Exploratory Study of Older Gays and Lesbians in the Myrtle Beach Area." The purpose of this study - a relatively under-researched area in sociology, according to Brallier - is to examine the extent to which local social service and health care systems are responsive to the unique needs of homosexual couples. Brallier hopes the study will raise the level of awareness on the part of agencies that serve older adults regarding special legal and social issues of the area's homosexual population.
The Center for the Study of Aging and Active Retirement was established in February 2002. Operated jointly by Coastal's College of Natural and Applied Sciences and Coastal's School of Continuing Studies, the center is a research and teaching resource for the study of gerontology.