Gerontology degree programs are ideal for professionals who enjoy working with elderly people and senior citizens. Professional areas to choose from include geriatric health management and long term care management. Gerontology is the study of aging; the study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of aging. Geriatrics, on the other hand, is a sub-specialty of medicine and health care that focuses on health care of the elderly. Its goal is to promote health and to prevent and treat diseases, ailments, and disabilities in older adults.
With higher life expectancy, an aging baby boomer population, and advancements in medical technology and research, the demand for these professionals in the United States over the next few decades with continue to be on the rise.
Gerontology Education and Training
Students learn the skills, knowledge, and strategies for meeting social, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual needs of aging patients and clients. Students also learn how to manage and oversee long-term care facilities. Online gerontology courses may include anatomy and physiology, psychology, counseling, psychology of dealing with death, sociology, health care management and administration, etc. Particular courses may include:
- Psychology of Aging
- End of Life Care
- Sociology of Aging and Life
- Cognition and Memory
- Management of Long-Term Care Facilities
- Nutrition and Dietetics
- Legal Issues
Students may also be required to take courses in government health policies, and medical funding and filing insurance claims.Gerontology classes may also include business management, policy, and policy planning and management. The gerontology certificate is a popular add-on or alternative area of preparation for students who are pursing degrees in nursing, social work, psychology counseling, and other areas such as geriatric nursing degrees.
Students can also earn a specialist certificate in aging and related areas, for example geriatric health, or geriatric nursing. In addition, some states require professionals to attain licensure or certification, and the requirements vary from state to state.
What to do with a gerontology degree? Careers can include working in a variety of settings such as long term care facilities, hospitals, departments of health and human services, social services agencies, health care facilities, long-term care facilities, mental health centers, social service agencies, residential facilities, government agencies, aging research laboratories, advocacy groups, and community agencies. You can also work in areas such as public policy, social sciences, and social work. Skills or success in the career include:
- Excellent communication skill
- Ability and interest in working with older adults
- Sensitivity, patience, empathy, and compassion
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