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Gerontology is the study of changes that happen as people age, and it encompasses all aspects, including social, physical, and mental changes.
Gerontology and Geriatrics are not the same. While we discussed what Gerontology deals with, geriatrics is a medical specialty, and it is concerned with the prevention and treatment of diseases in older people. Gerontology is a multidisciplinary field that caters to the globally aging population. It combines researchers and experts such as physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, policy experts, etc.
What does a Gerontologist do?
Gerontologists play a vital role in improving the quality of life and promoting the well-being of the aged. They not just carry out research but also practice and study interdisciplinary knowledge of the aging process.
Gerontology can be a rewarding field; it opens up new avenues of research and improves the relevant policies and technology in this field. As a Gerontologist, you can help protect older adults, promise them a healthier life and also increase their life expectancy.
Why study Gerontology?
Most people believe that working with older people will be discouraging or fear it to be arduous. However, it is nothing more than a stereotype. Remember that when you become a Gerontologist, you can plan the life course and the needs better. This helps an entire community and legislators in making necessary public policy choices. The demand for professionals with expertise in Gerontology is on the rise. You must note that you are signing up for a positive experience because dealing with older adults does not necessarily mean facing death and dying issues. Older people can be inspiring, and this job shall give you satisfaction when you heal them and provide motivation to help more people in need.
What subjects are taught in Gerontology?
The major subjects taught in Gerontology are as follows-
Types of Gerontology degrees
There are several degrees offered in Gerontology for different levels as listed below-
- Certification programs generally include 10 courses and it is meant for those students who wish to work in entry-level positions. It allows you to work in daycare centers for seniors, nursing homes and elderly care homes.
- Associate degrees in Gerontology take two years. You may have to do an internship in order to complete the course and graduate. It is the next level form of certification and is a good option for students who are looking for a change in their careers. It also takes less time than a bachelor’s degree.
- Bachelor degrees are full-time four-year courses. It makes you eligible for both entry-level and mid-level positions in the field of Gerontology.
- Online programs are in high demand by students opting for non-clinical positions. These programs are flexible, easily accessible, and a lot cheaper compared to studying from traditional campuses. You can also do masters in Gerontology online.
Top universities for Gerontology
- University of Massachusetts, Boston
- John Hopkins University, Maryland
- University of Southern California
- University of Regina, Canada
What skills will I learn as a Gerontologist?
If you are planning to be a Gerontologist, you must be hardworking, dedicated, and patient. Above all, many learned skills in the medical field can be applied to several aspects of life. The skills you will learn as a Gerontologist include-
1. Interpersonal skills
Gerontologists work with various people ranging from administrative professionals to people associated with social services. This ensures a better understanding of their peers’ diverse needs and gives an insight into their views about the elderly population they work with.
All individuals working in medical-related fields must be compassionate. This is the core skill or quality required for a job that deals with people in vulnerable conditions. You must be willing to listen and ready to offer a helping hand whenever needed.
Good communication skills allow you to understand your patients better; it also helps you make a good relationship with your peers and service providers. You can also learn more, be more successful in this field if you discuss more, and stay open to having conversations with people.
4. Problem-solving skills
As a Gerontologist, you will most likely encounter difficult situations and address problems on a daily basis. The concerns may be financial, medical, or social in nature.
Career opportunities for Gerontologists
The field of Gerontology is fascinating, and depending upon your career interests, you may consider several options beyond traditional healthcare and human services positions.
It is an emerging field of study, and due to the existing shortages in the healthcare sector and occupational therapy point, you will have more opportunities ahead. Some of the popular career paths that one can opt for
- Gerontology occupational therapists
These professionals work with patients to help them lead a quality life. They help regain and maintain the proper functioning of their body. Furthermore, they ensure that they can continue to perform their daily activities, like walking, eating, reading, etc., independently.
2. Mental health therapist
In this profession, psychotherapy is used to help people suffering from psychological distress. You can work as a counselor to older adults.
These professionals look after older patients daily, from grooming, essential food preparation, providing transportation, and more. In addition, they are extremely important as the elderly are dependent on them. However, the position earns less, and the average salary is $23,906/year.
In this field, you get to work in close proximity with aged people in need. You can connect better with elders and offer community support resources that provide them with the services they need. Additionally, you can work with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to help aging people.
Those who wish to pursue Gerontology must be interested in helping the aging population. It is a constantly evolving field, and there are endless possibilities. Regardless of what direction you choose, you will be offering much-needed help to a population that needs your service and understanding. Feel free to reach out to us for a detailed understanding of the subject and help with your application process!
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Q1. What is the expected salary of a Gerontologist?
Answer- The salary of a Gerontologist largely depends on their experience, skill, and type of job. One can expect an average starting salary of INR 2 lakh to INR 3 lakh per annum.
Q2. Can I become a rehabilitation counselor?
Answer- You can be a rehabilitation counselor if you have a master’s degree in Gerontology. These professionals help aged people deal with various mental and physical challenges daily. Further, they provide counseling, evaluate client needs, maintain records and develop specific treatment plans.
Q3. Where do I find a Gerontologist?
Answer- A Gerontologist will likely be working in a healthcare center or with an organization serving older adults. You can contact them to help you with resources in the community.