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November 13, 2008

ULM gerontology program professor featured in national journal

A University of Louisiana at Monroe professor was recently interviewed for an October article in Counseling Today.

Counseling Today is the flagship journal for the American Counseling Association. Dr. Chris Johnson, LPC., MFT., professor of gerontology and sociology, was featured in the article about the deluge of baby boomers likely to seek mental health services in the years ahead.

Approximately 78 million members of the baby boom generation will turn 65 in 2011. These boomers could do much to move counseling ­ particularly gerontological counseling ­ into the mainstream, especially since their generation typically doesn't attach the same stigma as their parents did to seeking psychological help.

Dr. Johnson and others contend that counseling professionals are simply not equipped to understand the biology of aging, or the multitude of psychological changes seniors face. In spite of the demographic imperative to provide help, many counselor education programs ignore gerontology courses, especially gerontology counseling courses, said Johnson.

ULM's online Certificate in Gerontology and M.A. in Gerontology may provide the necessary tools counseling professionals need to face the growing demand. It will be featured by the American Counseling Association for counselors and students who are interested in specializing as "Gero Counselors" in the U.S., according to Johnson, himself a member of the ACA.

One issue facing a disproportionate number of persons over the age of 65 is Alzheimer's disease, a fatal disorder that destroys brain tissue and impairs memory. It is estimated that about 4.5 million Americans already have Alzheimer's disease and that number could increase as baby boomers reach retirement. President Bush recently proclaimed November Alzheimer's Awareness Month.

According to statistics from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the number of adults age 65 and older in the United States will almost double between 2005 and 2030 to more than 70 million, constituting almost 20 percent of the population.

"Are we ready for the number of Americans age 65 and older to almost double?" asked Johnson, in the interview for Counseling Today. "The baby boomers are going to be more willing to see counselors than their parents, and I think gerontological counselors are going to be in high demand."

For more information on ULM's Gerontology and Sociology programs, contact the Director, Dr. Iftekhar Amin at 318-342-1441 or email him for information at:

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