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NC State Leaders Roll Out Dementia Plan at Gerontology Program 25th Anniversary 

The UNC Charlotte Gerontology Program celebrated its 25th anniversary this spring, and took the opportunity to help state leader roll out North Carolina’s first plan to comprehensively address dementia.  Mark Hensley, an Alzheimer’s Specialist at the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services and Berkeley Yorkery, Associate Director of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, presented North Carolina’s first statewide Alzheimer’s plan. 

The event drew dozens of students, scholars, practitioners and community activists from the gerontology field. Hensley and Yorkery’s presentation highlighted the aspects of the plan toward creating a dementia-capable state — one that is informed, safe and respectful of individuals with dementia and their families, provides supportive options and fosters quality of life. 

“As is the case for most health-related fields, effective outcomes in gerontology means cooperation between scholars, government, private industry and the community,” said Nancy Fey-Yensan, Dean of the UNC Charlotte College of Health and Human Services,  “I am especially proud of the part we are playing in developing a strong, cohesive network of like-minded individuals and organizations who want to make Charlotte and North Carolina the place to age successfully.”

North Carolina has the nation's 9th fastest growing older adult population with an estimated 160,000 persons currently with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. That number is estimated to increase to over 300,000 by the year 2030. 

Gerontology program director Julian Montoro Rodriguez said considering these statistics, dementia should be a priority for healthcare providers across the state.

“Discussions like those at the 25th anniversary celebration are a small part of our efforts to collaborate with community partners to identify ways to implement the recommendations of Dementia Capable North Carolina plan.”

This is especially important for Mecklenburg County, whose Alzheimer’s mortality rate is consistently among the highest in the state

“During the past years the Gerontology Program has been educating and training students and professionals on how to work with older adults, promote a positive experience of aging, and improve the quality of life for older adults in Charlotte and North Carolina,” said Montoro-Rodriguez, “Our priorities are to continue working with community partners across sectors to assess the needs of older adults, identify priorities for caregivers and implement evidence-based programs to support them.”

UNC Charlotte originally offered gerontology minor, and later expanded course offerings to include the current Master’s Degree and Graduate Certificate Program. It currently hosts 29 affiliate and 8 core faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, health and Human Services and Engineering.  

by: Wills Cittycessibili