BEND - Two programs in gerontology have been developed at Oregon State University - Cascades Campus to help meet the burgeoning need for more specialists in this field as America's Baby Boom population ages and moves toward retirement.

OSU-Cascades is offering both a traditional, four-year bachelor's degree program and a 27-credit certificate program designed for people who already have, or are pursuing an undergraduate degree. Both programs are provided by the OSU Department of Human Development and Family Sciences.

An informational meeting for people interested in the new programs will be held Dec. 6 at 4 p.m. in Cascades Hall, 2600 N.W. College Way, in Bend. It is free and open to the public.

There is a pressing need for programs such as this, educators say.

"The demographics of American society are changing, and the impact will be enormous, influencing every segment of our culture," said Debra Sellers, coordinator of the new programs. "In 2000, 12 percent of Americans were 65 or older. By 2030, that will increase to 20 percent. And Americans are living longer as well, with the life expectancy at birth increasing from 68 in 1950 to about 77 today."

This changing age structure may affect many facets of life, Sellers said, including marketing, retail business, recreation, tourism, real estate, health care and the arts. Professionals in all of these fields will need to understand the demographic changes, learn how to position their businesses for them and respond to the needs of an aging society. The programs may also meet the needs of individuals working with or caring for aging adults.

Both the degree and certificate programs will include core courses in adult development and aging, and electives will be available on such topics as social and psychological aspects of dying; healthy aging; and alternative therapeutic interventions such as animal assisted therapy. A field placement requirement will provide direct experience working with older adults.

People who want more information but cannot attend the informational meeting may contact Sellers at 541-322-3135 or

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Debra Sellers, 541-322-3135