What Is Gerontology?
Gerontology is the study of the aging process. 'Gero' is Greek for 'elders', and 'logy' means 'the study of'. As the aging population increases, gerontology is becoming a more important area of study. Read on to find out more about gerontology.
A Brief Description of Gerontology
According to the 2019 statistics from the United States Census Bureau, 16.5% of the U.S. population was over the age of 65, and the percentage of U.S. citizens who are elderly is expected to continue growing. Gerontology is an interdisciplinary field that examines the impact of aging on both the individual and society. Gerontologists are dedicated to understanding the biological, psychological and sociological aspects of the aging process, which are described in more detail below.
Important Facts About Gerontology
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree; Master's degree; Doctoral degree|
|Key Skills||Ability to analyze data; interpersonal communication; ethical reasoning; organization|
|Work Environment||Corporations; rehabilitation centers; health facilities; research|
|Similar Occupations||Adult day care worker; elder law; home health aid; social worker|
|Median Pay (2021)||$77,600 (for all registered nurses)|
|Job Outlook (2021-2031)||6% (for all registered nurses)|
Gerontology and the Physical Body
Gerontology examines how and why the body changes as it ages as well as the impact of these changes. Understanding the physiological and biological changes related to aging can help gerontologists better understand the physical needs and illnesses of the elderly.
Gerontology and Mental Health
The mental health of aged individuals is also studied in gerontology, since many illnesses and diseases of the mind are related to aging. Gerontologists may study depression, anxiety and cognitive changes that might lead to dementia.
Social Aspects of Gerontology
The sociological aspects of aging are an important part of any gerontology program of study. Since aging is a universal process, gerontology studies how different cultures respond to and deal with their aging populations. The availability and administration of psychological and nutritional counseling, proper housing and health care facilities for the aged are major areas of study. Gerontologists can help develop social programs and policies that aid senior citizens.
Gerontology can be studied at the bachelor's degree, master's degree, doctoral degree and graduate certificate levels. Undergraduate programs can prepare students to find jobs with aging service programs at nursing homes, senior living facilities, nutrition centers or other organizations that assist the elderly. They can also go on to graduate degree programs in a range of fields, including gerontology, sociology, health administration or professional medical care.
Master's degree programs in gerontology may be designed for individuals who want to start a career in this field or for working professionals seeking advancement. Programs may include internship and research requirements. At the graduate level, gerontology programs may be offered as dual-degree programs in combination with social work, public administration, law or business administration. Doctoral degree programs are typically research-intensive and prepare graduates for professional research careers.