Gerontology is the study of social, psychological and biological factors that appear in the natural process of aging. Gerontology is separated from geriatric care because it is not specifically focused on disease or prevention, but covers broader aspects of aging, such as biology, medicine, dentistry, social work, psychology, sociology, nursing, housing and many other day-to-day subjects. While the two fields may occasionally crossover, there are different disciplines and methodologies in the two fields.
What Does a Gerontologist Do?
Much of your job description will be studying social changes in people, as well as their physical and mental progression. Social aspects are considered just as important as physical changes. Developing a good sense of the progression, you will be in charge of applying what you learn to shape public policy, develop programs and teach others.
There are actually four main areas of aging that include chronological, psychological, social and biological aging. Each area details symptoms, such as biological change and the lessening of power and virility; the years lived since one person’s date of birth, the psychological change involves subtle and strong changes in cognitive thinking and a slowdown in adapting to change; social aging that changes all relationships within the smaller circle and the broader world. It is your job to dissect and understand these principles, so you can figure out, on an individual basis and among all society, how to care for the aging population. It’s not just about increasing life span, but also how to keep the quality of life up and the perception of the golden years extremely high.
Gerontology as a Career
Gerontology is not just a health care field. In fact, it’s an excellent chance to start working in the industry and gaining experience into the aging population, whether as a nurse, caregiver or counselor. There are avenues in research, products, administration and so forth, but you may find the one-on-one aspect, the most rewarding experience. Of course, your path will also determine how much education is required. Specialty practice requires specialty education, and usually involves more school work, such as earning a master’s degree or even a doctorate degree.
However, by setting your sights on alternative paths, you may be able to find higher-paying jobs and more stable and economically friendly jobs, like social workers, counselors in rehab and educators. Personal care aids had an amazing seventy percent growth rate that will take place over the next ten years. Still, just because you are specialized doesn’t mean you will lack broad knowledge. A well rounded training program will teach you detailed aspects of complete gerontology training, such as biology, psychology, sociology and physiology.
The Future of Aging
The future of aging actually looks good, considering that men will live an average of 77 years, until the year 2020, while women will live 81 years. Still, this means more health care, assistance in wellness and exercise, employment, and helping seniors feel useful and invigorated with life will be needed. Why not be at the forefront of an extremely important industry that humbles us all and shows great respect to our elders?