There was a time when the United States population was dominated by younger demographics. That has changed since the baby boomer population, which is 80 million strong is now reaching retirement age.
Due to the increase in seniors careers in gerontology are starting to increase at a rapid rate. The breadth of careers in this burgeoning field allows for people from several backgrounds to find a career they enjoy.
What is Gerontology?
Gerontology is the study of the aging process. The field generally focuses on those 50 years old and above. Gerontology should not be confused with geriatrics, which is the study of the diseases that affect the elderly.
Gerontology focuses on all areas of aging not just the physical aspects. The field also focuses on the social and mental aspects of growing older. There are actually several sub-fields of gerontology including medicine, psychology, sociology, economics, and nursing.
The field of gerontology is becoming more important in terms of policy making because the population of elderly is so large. Gerontology data and statistics can help policy makers make appropriate decisions so the elderly have the proper types of services as well as making sure other segments of the population view them correctly.
People are living longer lives than ever before. The average life expectancy use to be 65 but is now approaching 85. This means that millions of Americans will be living longer lives and need to be cared for. Since the average life expectancy is longer than it has ever been, gerontologists will be needed to gather important information that has never been researched.
Gerontologists work in a variety of settings including:
- Retirement homes
- Long term care facilities
- Nursing homes
- Assisted living homes
- Product development for senior related products and services
- Estate planner
Gerontology is offered as a degree at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate levels. The job outlook for gerontology is expected to be favorable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the field to grow 22% through 2018 which is must faster than the average occupation. Jobs are expected to be available at hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and retirement homes.
Students thinking of pursuing a career in gerontology should do further research by discussing their options with a career counselor at their school. Even if you do not have a degree in Gerontology you can get a related degree in psychology, sociology, biology, or nursing.