Our Department prepares students to assume leadership roles in our communities in addressing the needs of an aging society, through our teaching, our research, and the service opportunities we provide. The core courses in our program, such as Programs and Services for the Elderly, provide an understanding of the public policies that shape the experience of aging in the United States, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act. These courses also address the role of the private sector (i.e., private pensions and private health insurance, including managed care and prescription drug plans through Medicare Part D), particularly in contributing to the successful aging of older Americans. Advanced courses in the UNO Gerontology Department, such as Politics in Aging, discuss the development of public and private supports for older Americans as well as the current and future impact of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion, and other developments on our aging society.
UNO Gerontology students have the opportunity to participate in public policy research at the national, state, and local levels. Dr. Christopher Kelly has studied extensively national trends in nursing home regulation and is currently exploring the development of long-term care alternatives to nursing homes, such as home health and personal care services, in the 50 states. Along with colleagues in the UNO Gerontology Department, the UNO Center for Public Affairs Research (CPAR) and the Gerontology Institute at Georgia State University, he is also studying issues such as training that impact the recruitment and retention of direct care workers across all long-term care settings. Dr. Kelly has shared his findings with policymakers in Nebraska, including the State Legislative Planning Committee and the Nebraska State Legislature’s Aging Task Force. He has also disseminated his findings to service providers at the local level, particularly Nebraska’s eight area agencies on aging (AAAs).
The UNO Department of Gerontology has grown in size and in visibility in large part due to our collaborations with public stakeholders (such as those described above) and in the private sector, such as AARP. Our students have benefited directly from these partnerships through internships and employment opportunities in many of these organizations. In return, our students and graduates and improved the services provided through the “aging network” and continue to enhance the lives of older adults, both within and outside Nebraska. We are a program on the rise and we are proud of the contributions the UNO Department of Gerontology is making to the discussion of the issues facing our aging society.