Dr. Cheryl Dye is a professor in Clemson University's Department of Public Health Sciences as well as the Director of Clemson's Institute for Engaged Aging.

Cheryl Dye, Ph.D., is a professor in Clemson University’s Department of Public Health Sciences as well as the Director of Clemson’s Institute for Engaged Aging.
Image Credit: Clemson University

Clemson University professor Cheryl Dye will be the lead general session presenter at the Southeastern Association of Area Agencies on Aging Conference in Greenville held in December.

Dye, who also serves as the director of Clemson’s Institute for Engaged Aging (IEA), will speak about her work with the university’s institute and its faculty associates as well as a specific talk on “Senior Mobility: Key to Engaged Aging.”

She said she is excited to have been invited to speak by the Area Agency on Aging leaders in South Carolina, which serves as the host state this year.

“It provides a great opportunity to share information about the Institute for Engaged Aging with participants representing nine Southeastern states,” Dye said.

The Southeastern Association of Area Agencies on Aging was formed as a regional advocacy association in 1973 and includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The association meets annually at this conference to share best practices for serving older citizens.

Dye said that by 2030, 28 percent of South Carolinians will be 60 years of age and older, and that this group wants to “age in place” and live independently. This desire is a challenge, however, as older adults often struggle to adapt to rapid societal changes as well as changes caused by the aging process. Collaborations between IEA researchers, healthcare providers and policy makers can help these older adults achieve their goal of independent living while also remaining meaningfully engaged in life.

“The driving force behind the work of IEA Faculty Associates is the fact that thousands of people are retiring to our state to join our growing numbers of elderly native-born citizens, but our state has very limited resources to serve this population,” Dye said. “I believe that IEA researchers can make significant contributions to solving the problem of serving more people with limited resources through their innovative research and committed leadership.”

The Institute for Engaged Aging provides the infrastructure for Clemson researchers to collaborate across campus and the region.  This improves success in securing research funding and increasing publication rates, as well as education and research opportunities for students. Clemson’s Institute for Engaged Aging enables the institute’s faculty associates and their students to better serve the state’s growing older adult population.

In addition to her work at Clemson, she has provided leadership for several state initiatives including serving as Chair of the Advisory Board for the South Carolina Center for Gerontology and co-founding the South Carolina Aging Research Network. She’s also co-authored a proposal which was approved by the Commission of Higher Education to establish SeniorSMART, a SmartState Center for Economic Excellence and Research focused on improving older adult health, quality of life and the ability to live independently.

While Dye’s work contributes to SeniorSMART goals, she is also committed to increasing the value that society places on contributions of older adults.  This commitment is inspired by something a nursing home resident once said. The resident was a former CEO, and although he had achieved great success in his life, he received very few visitors at the nursing home.

“One day, a nursing home staff member routinely asked him, ‘What do you need?’” Dye said. “He replied, ‘Relevance.’”