Gerontology: what you need to know

You might ask yourself what exactly gerontology involves and what a career in this field entails. If you are not aware of practical careers in this field, then the following will serve as a brief overview of gerontology, what careers in this field entail, and how to get into the field of gerontology. Gerontology is an interesting field worth considering. Learning more about gerontology can be useful for medical professionals and personal knowledge since it will improve your understanding of the medical needs of individuals who are advanced in age.

What is gerontology?

Gerontology is considered the study of cultural, social, psychological, and biological aspects associated with the aging process. This field involves understanding what happens as people age, beginning with middle-aged individuals and older. Gerontologists study the effects of aging on the body that are thought to be caused by wear, genetic factors, environmental accumulation, free radicals, DNA damage, and more. Some of these are theories that gerontology researchers continue to study.

Gerontologists consider more than just the needs of the aging patient. A gerontologist typically understands the societal changes resulting from an aging population and might apply their knowledge to policies and programs. Some might work in roles involving tasks such as government planning or managing a nursing home.

Today, there are a number of gerontology organizations that provide resources and membership opportunities for professionals in this field. While the term gerontology has roots in the Greek language, it wasn’t until the 1940s that the Gerontological Society of America was started. Since then, the field of gerontology has continued to advance and thrive, while providing much assistance to the aging community.

Careers in gerontology

A practical career in gerontology might involve comprehensive health care for elderly patients and considering their overall wellbeing as a caregiver. A gerontologist’s goal is to improve the quality of life for their patients. This often means working with family members, communities, and other caregivers of aging patients. There are diverse subgroups of professionals who call themselves gerontologists.

One career within the field of gerontology is a personal care aide. Personal care aides might have skills learned on the job along with certain state requirements, such as licensing or certifications. Personal care aides include home health workers who assist patients with personal care needs in their home. They might administer medications, assist patients with bathing and dressing, shopping, cooking meals, or driving the patient to doctor’s appointments.

Geriatric social worker is another gerontology career for which you are required to have a master’s degree and licensing or certifications. In this role, you might work for agencies such as Adult Protective Services. This agency works to assist elders who have experienced abuse and accept reports from witnesses of elder abuse.

Life enrichment professionals typically provide recreational therapy for aging individuals. In this career, you might set up programs appropriate for aging individuals considering their abilities. Programs might include adult day care or daily events at residential centers.

The good news about careers in gerontology is that job positions are expected to increase for all of the above mentioned positions in the coming years. Gerontology is not only a rewarding career choice but also a wise option providing job stability in the long term.

How to get into the field of gerontology

You can enter the field of gerontology beginning by earning your degree. Maryville’s Master of Science in nursing is an online program that will set you on the right path to a fulfilling career in gerontology. This will ensure that you have the required initial credentials to begin your career in this focused medical role. With the right education, you are able to begin gaining skills and experience.

Medical licensing, requirements, and other steps toward a career in any medical role often vary by state. Learn more about what is relevant to the career that interests you in your state before you begin course work. Contact the state board where you live to learn more about titles, requirements for advanced nursing licenses, and scope of practice.

Gerontology is a fascinating field of work that can provide a long-lasting career for medical professionals. Earning an education while learning about the process of aging can provide a variety of career options that can lead to a rewarding professional life. Get started on this career path by first earning your degree from an accredited university that offers a specialty in gerontology. Once you have completed your master’s degree in nursing with special studies in gerontology, you should be set to enjoy a fulfilling career helping aging individuals to lead a better quality of life.