Dominican Selected As Age-Friendly University

With a rich history of offering educational programs and developing community partnerships focused on the evolving needs of older adults, Dominican University of California has been named an Age-Friendly University (AFU) by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE), an organization of the Gerontological Society of America.

The AFU network consists of more than 70 institutions of higher education around the globe that have committed themselves to become more age-friendly in their programs and policies. Joining the AFU AGHE network will allow Dominican to contribute to an educational movement of social, personal, and economic benefit to students of all ages.

Dominican is strongly committed to the well-being and educational needs of older adults, as well as to developing and advancing aging-studies programs, said Dr. Ruth Ramsey, Dean of Dominican’s School of Health and Natural Sciences and a member of the Marin County Aging Action Initiative’s steering committee.

“As the number of older adults in our community continues to grow and more individuals are experiencing increased longevity, responding to the educational needs and interests of older adults will provide many opportunities for Dominican to advance its research, innovative teaching, and community engagement focused on delivering age-friendly programs,” Dr. Ramsey says.
“We also must continue to identify gaps and opportunities for growth in terms of how best to shape age-friendly practices to reach an increasingly diverse population in both Marin County and California.”

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Dominican endorses the 10 AFU principles, which include encouraging the participation of older adults in all core activities of the University, recognizing the range of educational needs of older adults, promoting intergenerational learning, and widening access to online educational opportunities for older adults.

“Joining the AFU AGHE will offer Dominican the opportunity to engage with a network of global partners as we continue to prepare health care professionals to work directly with older adults, while also advancing research about the process of aging and the implications of an aging society,” Ramsey says.

Dominican offers degree programs in nursing, occupational therapy, physician assistant, counseling psychology, and psychology. The University also developed an innovative master’s degree focused on age-related diseases in partnership with The Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

Ongoing partnerships with key aging organizations in Marin, Sonoma, and Santa Clara counties provide students with internships and fieldwork placements. Intergenerational interaction is at the heart of many of these partnerships with community agencies and skilled nursing facilities. Community partners include Marin Villages, West Marin Senior Services, and the Aging Action Initiative. Each year Dominican students participate in the Marin County Senior Information Fair and deliver educational presentations at the Marin Commission on Aging.

For more than 15 years, Dominican’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute has offered older adults fun, challenging learning opportunities on both the San Rafael campus and at senior residences and other Marin County venues. In addition, Dominican offers a course audit option for older adults, allowing them to audit one class per semester at DUC without paying tuition. Dominican’s Adult Degree Completion (ADC) program offers adults of all ages the opportunity to complete a degree in leadership and management, psychology, or literary and intercultural studies. ADC Students can also earn up to 45 units of college credit for knowledge gained outside traditional academic settings through an assessment of prior learning.

Each year, faculty mentor students on research on age-related issues such as fall prevention, cognitive remediation, and interventions for persons with dementia. In 2019, Dr. Gina Tucker-Roghi, assistant professor of Occupational Therapy, was awarded a $300,000, three-year GACA grant by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to develop resources and training opportunities for occupational therapists and other healthcare providers who serve older adults with dementia. In 2020, the OT department received a Wellness Promotion and Disease Prevention program grant from Marin County’s Health and Human Services jointly with Age-Friendly Sausalito. This grant will allow 10 community instructors, including six OT students and four community members, to be certified as instructors for Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention program. Once certified, Tai Chi classes online will be provided to older adults to help promote balance and prevent falls.

News Contact: Sarah.Gardner@dominican.edu.

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