One of the significant factors about the Stroke Center is that it is a present day illustration of the immediate future. The majority of students at the center are mature adults and seniors. They reflect the changing demographics in America. According to the US Census Bureau, America is undergoing a radical demographic departure from being a nation of youth, to being a nation where people over 60 years of age will outnumber children under 14 years.
The generation between the ages of forty and sixty is the largest, most powerful, most influential generation in American history. This is the Age Wave. The aging Baby Boom is the most significant societal force of our day. This enormous demographic change is having a significant impact on the way our society views aging. Growing old is no long seen as the end of a productive life and a time of inevitable decline in health and vitality. Rather, terms such as successful aging, productive aging, robust aging and the like are found more and more frequently in scientific literature and in popular media reports. We have mounting evidence that lifestyle, in terms of nutrition and exercise, among other behaviors, can prevent or delay chronic conditions. It has also been shown that lifestyle changes can improve these conditions even in the later stages of life. Thus, naturally occurring behaviors and health practices as well as intervention to improve lifestyle behaviors can potentially enhance social functioning, improve physical and mental heath, prolong independent living and promote greater autonomy.
Despite marked changes in attitudes and improvements in lifestyle, chronic disease remains a fundamental characteristic of aging. People 60 years of age and above have, on average, slightly more than two chronic conditions. Because people are living longer and longer, the morbidity and disability associated with chronic disease has substantially increased. Unfortunately, despite the recognition that for a rapidly increasing number of people, learning to live with chronic diseases may well be one of their most important adult developmental tasks. To date, neither medical care nor health-related education has had much to offer.
Community college disabled students programs are likely to be called upon to meet new challenges presented by this powerful and growing new sociological force. When this generation reaches old age, it will dramatically bring the realities of an aging society into focus. Effective programs like the Stroke and Acquired Disability Center will be in great demand.
It is equally important to be aware that Health care workers at all levels will be needed to staff hospitals, assist caregivers, work in in-home supportive services and provide for the variety of therapies that will be required by the dominant and largest segment of our population. The typical Stroke Center student is a stable, mature adult who has absorbed and survived some tough life experiences. Patience, graciousness, good humor and an openness toward new options and learning opportunities prevail. Therefore, Stroke Center students are ideal candidates to serve as subjects in a real life laboratory situation and to assist in the training of upcoming health care professionals that will be required during the next crucial decades.