Gerontology is the physical, mental, and sociological study of aging. It includes the study of changes in adults as they age, the ways that society changes with an aging population, and the ways we apply this information to programs and policies for older adults. A degree in gerontology prepares the student for careers working with older adults or as advocates for the elderly.
Gerontology is a diverse field with career opportunities in human services, government agencies, retirement communities, nursing homes, health care, and long-term institutional care. Gerontologists serve as social workers, nursing aids, social scientists, and healthcare managers. Careers for gerontologists are numerous because they include almost any profession in which an older person is cared for and assisted.
Nurses, occupational therapists, and other healthcare providers also benefit from degrees in gerontology. A degree in gerontology allows professionals to better understand the problems surrounding their aging patients and how to better care for them. Communication skills are important for gerontologists because they are often responsible for recording and relaying information regarding their client or patient. They must be able to work with a diverse population of people, particularly older adults.
People are now living longer than ever before-and the baby boomers have begun to retire. This growing number of older adults creates an increased need for skilled, educated professionals in gerontology.
Career Education in Gerontology
College degrees in gerontology are available at all educational levels, from undergraduate certificates to PhD programs. Nonclinical programs such as long-term care administration are available online.
Undergraduate Certifications in Gerontology
These are ideal for students seeking entry level positions working with older adults. These jobs include entry-level positions in nursing homes, in senior day care centers, or in the homes of private clients. A high school diploma is required to enter an undergraduate certificate program. These short courses of study usually include four to 10 courses such as Introduction to Gerontology, Communication and Aging, and Psychological Aspects of Aging.
Associate Degree in Gerontology This is a two-year program that includes general education courses and courses specific to gerontology. The associate degree prepares you for an entry-level career in gerontology, advancement in your current career, or a bachelor’s degree. Most programs now require associate degree candidates to complete internships.
Bachelor’s Degree in Gerontology
Students earning a bachelor’s degree in gerontology are prepared for entry- to mid-level positions working with older adults in a variety of settings. Bachelor’s degrees in gerontology typically take four years to complete and require an internship. Courses in gerontological studies are required in addition to general education courses such as algebra, biology and sociology. Online bachelor’s degrees in gerontology focus particularly on nonclinical aspects of the field, such as communication, policy, advocacy and social services. Online students may often arrange local practical to fulfill hands-on training requirements.
What Can You Do With a College Degree in Gerontology?
Social and health services assistants work with clients in a variety of environments and assist them with a wide range of issues. Their duties and job titles are numerous and varied. They meet with clients, assess their needs, and help determine what programs or treatments are available to them. These professionals are driven to help others. They exhibit care and compassion to those in need of assistance.
Social Worker. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers “help people function the best way they can in their environment, deal with their relationships, and solve personal and family problems.”
Nursing and Home Health Aides. Nursing and home health aides are responsible for people who are physically or mentally ill or injured. Nursing aides usually work in hospitals, nursing homes, or mental health facilities. Home health care aides work in their patients’ homes.
Health Care Professionals. Health care professionals treat disabled, ill, or injured people to improve or maintain their health. Doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physicians’ assistants, and nurse practitioners are examples of health care professionals.
Medical and Health Services Managers. Medical and health services managers are responsible for the planning, administration, and supervision of health care services. They are employed in a variety of medical centers, including hospitals, doctors’ offices, and nursing homes. Medical and health service managers may manage a department in a healthcare facility or the facility itself.
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