The University of Northern Iowa will ask Regents at their next meeting toapprove a new major: gerontology. The focus on aging and older clients willbecome more important as Americans on average continue to grow older,according to U-N-I’s Harold Barnes. Fifteen-percent of Iowa’s population is65 or older, but that percentage will grow dramatically in coming years.Barnes, who’s head of U-N-I’s department of Design, Family and ConsumerSciences, says the gerontology major is crafted to produce graduates intwo areas of specialty: administrators for care facilities, and those whoneed a strong background in aging issues. The degree will be vital to someworkers before long, because there’s been a change in Iowa law. Directors ofcare facilities will be required to have a four-year degree, one reason thismajor’s been created. Barnes says an aging population will need a variety ofnew services. Barnes says being old is different than it used to be, withmore people over 65 remaining healthy and active. Students can take some ofthe courses at Des Moines Area Community College, if U-N-I’s gerontologydegree program is approved by the regents.
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