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A word from the President

My first exposure to gerontology as an academic discipline was about ten years ago when I was working in a small liberal arts college. The school specialized in applying traditional liberal arts education to the contemporary professional work world, and it offered majors like English, history, theology, psychology and business. There were no science or clinical health programs, but the most popular minor was gerontology. How did THAT happen?

Next door to that small liberal arts college was a continuing care retirement community, and residents had full access to the college and its services. The seniors hung out in the college library, attended sporting events, participated in student activities and audited classes. It was fascinating to observe how students reacted to and interacted with the seniors.  Students curbed their language, tidied their clothing and stood up straighter in the company of their older neighbors.  In the student environment, the seniors’ eyes brightened, their steps quickened, and they engaged their younger neighbors in rich, meaningful conversation.

The long-term result of this day to day interaction was the establishment of a genuine intergenerational learning community.  Regular and healthy exposure to seniors sparked an appreciation for the importance of the social, spiritual, and psychological aspects of aging.  Regular exposure to the reality of healthy aging led students to explore service opportunities and internships within the continuing care retirement community, especially in the memory unit and the long-term care facility.  Through a combination of experiential learning and gerontological coursework, an increasing number of students completed gerontology minors.  Many went on to work as senior services navigators or senior advocates. Others continued to volunteer in the continuing care facility years after graduation.

It is my desire that FranU students may be similarly blessed with multiple opportunities to interact with seniors in healthy, mutually beneficial ways, such that they may be inspired to support healthy aging through their professional or volunteer work. If students understand that “old and aging” do not equal “sick and sicker”, they will be much more motivated to pursue gerontology as a discipline and/or profession.

So, let’s emphasize healthy aging and encourage healthy relationships with seniors. We will all be certain to enjoy the benefits.



Dr. Tina S. Holland


Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University


Dr. Tina Holland has been the president of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University (previously Our Lady of the Lake College) since 2014. Prior to coming to Louisiana, Dr. Holland was the Executive Vice President and Provost at Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, Indiana for 24 years. Dr. Holland is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served three years in the United States Marine Corps.


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It’s Family Stories Month!

November is Family Stories Month, so take time during this holiday season to sit down with your family and listen to your family’s stories! As your family comes together for holiday celebrations, take the time to ask the older adults in your family about their stories growing up and any interesting family tales they may have. You could even make a video or write a few stories down in a family album. Your grandparent, aunt, uncle or other relative may have a few stories that could surprise you! Celebrate your family stories and share a few of your own!

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A commitment to healthy aging and education

Good morning!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved spending time with older adults. Whether it was my grandparents, members of the church, or our neighbors, it was a joy to sit in their presence. I enjoyed listening to their stories, having the benefit their advice. When I decided to become a nurse, I felt the natural fit for me was gerontology. It has  been such a privilege to provide care and emotional support for such an amazing group of people. It was the relationships I fostered with older adults that has helped to shape me into the person I am today. In appreciation of the amazing influence that seniors have had on my life, I have decided to further my education and to pursue my Master’s in Gerontological nursing. (Check out the link to this amazing program here !) I hope to contribute to the amazing research that is being done in the field of gerontology, and to continue to drive innovation in this growing field. I would encourage everyone out there to cherish the time they have with the older adults they love. Soak in the experience of being with them; learn their favorite recipes, listen to their favorite songs. Just enjoy their company and enjoy all of the wonderful benefits that healthy aging can bring!

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Rachael Abadie, BSN, RN-BC
Research Asistant
Sister Agnes Marie Fitzsimons Gerontology Endowment
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Older adults and the opioid epidemic

Headlines all across the country are reporting the dangers of the opioid epidemic.  Opioids are narcotics that are generally prescribed for pain relief, and some argue that over-prescription is at the root of this issue.  Although many assume that opioid abuse is occurring in younger individuals, it may be surprising to learn how this epidemic has effected the older adult population. According to an article in the Washington Post, opioid use has almost doubled in adults over 50 years of age, with one in three people with a Medicare prescription plan having an opiate prescribed to them (read the Washington Post’s article here). Although there are many questions posed by this epidemic, one thing is certain: it’s not just effecting youth.

Whats New?

Grandparent’s Day: Exploring the role of the custodial grandparent

September 10th is National Grandparents Day, celebrating the wonderful and fulfilling role of being a grandparent.  Interestingly, over time, the role of grandparents has diversified and includes grandparents as primary caregivers of grandchildren.  Custodial grandparents are those grandparents who have legal custody of their grandchildren and are an often-overlooked group of caregivers.  This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as the death of the child’s parent, a parent’s mental illness, drug abuse, or a parent’s inability to care for the child.

A study published by North Dakota State University explored the role of the custodial grandparent, noting both perceived benefits and difficulties of older adults raising their grandchildren. While raising their grandchildren contributed to an increased sense of purpose, they often experience high levels of stress and a need for support.

In the Baton Rouge area, the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Information Center of Louisiana offers support and resources to custodial grandparents.  This group is a real source of emotional support as well as informational support.  Monthly, support groups are held and are often accompanied by legal assistance.  To find out more, their website can be found here.

Let’s celebrate all grandparents on this very special day!