S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell shared about the issues facing the state’s seniors at a meeting of the Clemson University Institute for Engaged Aging Advisory Board, held September 13 at the university.
“We have the health challenge of the century before us,” McConnell said, adding that supporting home- and community-based programs such as meal programs, senior centers, and respite care are keys to “allowing people to age in place with dignity at home.”
As lieutenant governor, McConnell is head of the state’s Office on Aging, which promotes education, research and training in the field of gerontology, and works with regional and local organizations to improve the quality of life of South Carolina's older citizens.
Among the Office on Aging’s partners is the Institute for Engaged Aging, which develops best practices for engaged aging through research, education, and community outreach, with the aim of helping older adults stay engaged in family and community living. Comprised of faculty associates from all of Clemson’s colleges as well as external agencies such as hospitals and rehabilitation centers, the institute is housed within the university’s College of Health, Education and Human Development.
The institute’s research, educational programs, and community outreach are critical to meet the needs of an increasingly larger and diverse older adult population in the state and region, according to Cheryl Dye, professor of public health sciences at Clemson and the institute’s director. Census estimates predict that the number of adults 65 and older is expected to double to almost 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2030, Dye added. In South Carolina, the percentage will be even greater at 22 percent - which reflects its number one rate of growth among the Southeastern states for those over 65.