What is Gerontology?
Gerontology is the study of the process of aging, across the life span, whose multi-disciplinary aspects include physical, mental, social and spiritual changes in people as they age. The study of the resultant societal impact of an aging population and the application of this knowledge is included in this description.
Using this inclusive definition, professionals from diverse fields are known as gerontologists (Geriatrics relates to the comprehensive healthcare of older adults, specifically including the study of illness and disease in later life, and as such is a branch of gerontology).
Overview of the Field and its Career Growth Potential
For over 50 years, the U.S. has been preparing for an aging society. There has been extensive research and conjecture relative to economic and social implications, mass retirements and the potentially devastating impact on health care systems of a burgeoning population of frail elderly.
The projection model was out of sync with an evolving global culture. Recently, it has become apparent that a whole new set of possible scenarios is emerging, for both older adults and society in general. Not only are Americans living longer, but also more healthfully.
Almost Limitless Opportunity for Development and Delivery of New Products and Services
A key factor in the expected job growth in the field of aging, besides the obvious demographic bulge, is the shift away from viewing employment solely from the illness, disease and research model. This is due in large part to the redefinition of gerontology itself.
Until lately, options for working with older adults were mostly concentrated throughout the health care services continuum. While demand will remain high in these areas, the good news is that almost limitless opportunity exists for the development and delivery of new products and services to this burgeoning population.
Exponential growth is expected in all service providing industries. Many states are expected to experience dramatic workforce shortages among paraprofessionals. In addition to the Health Care Services continuum, demand will also be great to train qualified applicants for work in Financial and Legal services, Leisure, Travel, Hospitality and Fitness and Wellness pursuits.
Equal challenge and opportunity exists for students of gerontology, and those academic institutions and other workforce entities that prepare them for these new careers in aging.
By most accounts, Careers in Aging are going to be among the Next Big Things in the 21st Century workforce.
Copyright © 2005, Exploring Careers in Gerontology. All rights reserved.