What this implies is an increasing demand for professionals to cater to their health and social requirements.
Gerontology is a field that studies the physical, mental and sociological aspects of aging.
People who specialize in dealing with elderly clients are called gerontologists.
Gerontologists have a wide range of job opportunities available to them. Some work with individuals and their families, providing one-on-one care for the elderly at home.
Others work to develop programs to meet the needs of the elderly at a community level, in government agencies, non-profit organizations as well as private retirement communities or old age homes.
Depending on the requirements of their clients, gerontologists provide daily care, help in obtaining social security or medicare benefits, conduct recreational activities, and provide medical care and psychological and emotional counseling.
The education necessary for gerontology careers differs depending on the nature of the job.
Undergraduate certificate programs and the two-year associate’s degree programs provide candidates with an understanding of the physical and psychological aspects of aging and care giving.
These qualify candidates for entry-level jobs in daycare centers, nursing homes or private homes. Middle-level positions require a bachelor’s degree in gerontology, which takes four years of coursework along with an internship.
Top-level positions necessitate a master’s or doctoral degree in gerontology and qualify candidates to work with policy development, administrative matters and gerontological research.
Working with the elderly presents its own distinct challenges. Although people may have chosen a career in this field out of a strong desire to serve, the nature of the job also requires emotional maturity and an ability to empathize with the client.
As people age, they find themselves losing their independence, and having to rely on someone else for help is often upsetting. Work with such clients calls for sensitivity, a lot of patience, a tactful approach and excellent communication skills.
Certification and Licensure
States differ with respect to the licensure and certification requirements for gerontologists. Home health aides undergo training under the supervision of a registered nurse, and clear a competency exam.
Nursing aides need to complete at least 75 hours of training, and clear an exam to gain entry into the state’s registry of nursing aides.
Social workers who are desirous of working in gerontology need to meet their state’s requirements for licensure and certification as social workers.
Gerontologists’ pay varies depending on the particular setting in which they work, the responsibilities they handle and the level of care they provide.
According to Guide to Healthcare Schools, annual salaries range between $30,000 and $60,000, with location, level of experience and the employer profile being important factors that decide the specific amount.