The adulthood, aging, and gerontology program at the University of Connecticut has been training graduate students for over 50 years to meet the needs of adults, older adults, and their families. Research in this area is critical given that the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060. The aging of baby boomers indicates that, by 2035, older people are projected to outnumber children (under 18) for the first time in U.S. history. This population shift will increase the demand for researchers and other professionals in various careers with knowledge and expertise in adulthood, aging, and gerontology.
In HDFS, faculty and graduate student researchers aim to improve the health and wellbeing of adults, older adults, families, caregivers, and communities by engaging in collaborative, multi-disciplinary research and by mentoring and fostering the next generation of aging scholars. This area of specialization also attracts students from a wide range of fields, including nursing, psychology, audiology, and policy.
Current research includes projects that investigate:
- Health and aging- To understand the psychosocial impact of chronic illness and disability on the health and wellbeing of older adults and their families. Current research focuses on mechanisms and outcomes of resilience in this population to inform interventions; cancer survivorship and chronic illness across the lifespan; health behaviors and quality of life among adults with chronic illness; family adjustment in the context of illness; positive and negative psychosocial impact of being diagnosed with cancer; the impact of sports reminiscence programs related to socialization activities offered to persons with dementia
- Caregiving- To examine the needs of caregivers and care-receivers to help identify services and/or programs to assist in providing quality care to family members
- Individual and contextual influences- To research stressful life transitions and coping during middle & later adulthood within diverse social and cultural contexts. Examples of current research, include: understanding marital relationships and factors leading to divorce and coping and well-being; African American breast cancer survivors’ support in adhering to diet and exercise routines; Asian Pacific American families; Asian Pacific Americans and Retirement; Japanese Americans and World War II experiences; Retirement Adaptation;transportation issues and older drivers
- Policy- To analyze the effects of federal, state, and local policies on the lives of adults, older adults, their families and caregivers
- Lifelong and intergenerational learning- To study the positive implications of lifelong learning across the generations and examine the benefits of intergenerational service learning on bi-directional ageism, positive aging strategies, and educational strategies to improve gerontological education
The adulthood, aging, and gerontology specialization in HDFS provides students with a comprehensive background in theory and research within the broader context of Human Development and Family Studies, highlighting the value of aging, resilience, and the positive aspects of development. HDFS students also have access to a number of other health and prevention related resources both in and outside of the department, including the InCHIP Aging Research Interest Group, directed by HDFS professor Terry Berthelot, Center for Applied Research in Human Development, the Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance & Rejection, and the Center for the Study of Culture, Health and Human Development. Students can also concurrently pursue a range of relevant certificate options, including Health Psychology and Disability Studies. The Graduate School website has a full list of all available Certificate Programs for Master's and Doctoral students.