Adult Development and Aging

The mission of the concentration in Adult Development and Aging is to prepare students for employment in Human Services for the aging population.

As the population ages, and opportunities for gainful employment, fulfilling volunteer work, and a balanced lifestyle increase for this population, human services professionals will need specialized knowledge in areas specific to individuals over the age of 60.


The Studies in Aging Concentration, as part of the Human Services Major, will prepare students to understand the benefits of aging and challenges faced by senior citizens in a variety of areas. Various courses within the concentration can also be used as electives in other majors.

Career Opportunities Include:

  • Case manager
  • Staff supervisor
  • Staff coordinator
  • Community care coordinator

Course Descriptions:

End-of-Life Matters

Broad overview of death and dying topics including choices an aging population needs to make, ethics and Christian perspective of those choices, and the experience of grief and mourning.

Long-Term Care System

Exploration of the continuum of long-term care services available in the United States.  Examination of issues of access and financing; the combination of housing and services for disabled older adults; and challenges to the provision of a range of quality long-term care options.

Psychology and Sociology of Aging

A review of the biological, sociological, and psychological aspects of age-related changes in respect to perception, memory, cognition, and personality.  Major developmental theories and research will be studied.   Study of aging from the perspective of prominent sociological theories in Western society with emphasis on culture, socialization, group life, social institutions, social processes and social change.

Memory Loss and Aging

Aging affects the ability to recall and retrieve information.  This course will compare normal age-related changes in the brain with the effects of diseases that cause cognitive impairment.  Prevalence, incidence, symptoms, causes, treatment, and caregiving issues are discussed, with emphasis on the history and personal, social, cultural, political, and economic impacts of Alzheimer’s disease are explored.

Survival Psychology

Survival Psychology focuses on the traits responsible for surviving in high-stress environments including responding directly to high-threat encounters. Students will understand the psychology behind the warrior mindset, combat stress response and pro-survival behaviors, including “the gift of fear.” Organizational and professional psychological traits present in law enforcement, paramilitary organizations and high stress organizations will also be explored balancing independence and leadership versus the need for teamwork in responding to stressful events. Healthy lifestyle factors are examined that lead to career effectiveness and avoiding burnout, such as managing vicarious trauma and promoting self-care.


“In speaking with local professionals at nursing homes, elder care facilities, and mental health agencies, they advise that graduates with a Bachelor’s in Human Services with competencies in studies on an aging population might expect to compete for a variety of jobs. Also, in speaking with these professionals, I have received very positive feedback with regard to the need for more graduates with these competencies to compete for these positions.”

Dawn Rodgers-DeFouw, Program Champion