The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has authorized Texas State University to offer a new degree program to help address the growing needs of an aging population.
The Coordinating Board approved a Master of Science in Dementia and Aging Studies, which will be offered through traditional and online channels beginning this fall. The Texas State University System Board of Regents previously approved the proposed degree during its May 22 meeting in Huntsville.
This is an area of gerontology that focuses on training individuals to help improve the quality of life for persons stricken with this debilitating ailment. According to the National Institute on Aging, an estimated 5 million Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer's disease, and the program is aimed at preparing professionals who can profoundly impact people afflicted with the disease.
The genesis of the M.S. in Dementia and Aging Studies originated with Christopher Johnson, a gerontologist in the Department of Sociology. While in Europe he saw the extensive infrastructure that existed to help those Europeans live fuller lives, even though they were persons with dementia, and realized that the U.S. lacked such infrastructure for its own rapidly aging populations.
"We have the Baby Boomer generation, many of whom are coming to an age where they will need this kind of care," said Susan Day, chair of the Department of Sociology. "We're not going to cure dementia. The focus is to make their lives better and improve the quality of life."
The master's degree will be offered through the Department of Sociology at Texas State.