Aging Population and Importance of Gerontology

Aging Population and Importance of Gerontology | UMassOnline

A shift is on in the demographic makeup of the United States. It’s not one that’s going to stop anytime soon.

While researchers and the media focus on the 60 million young people in Generation Z, the U.S. actually is getting older. Much, much older.

A study from the Pew Research Center found that by 2050, one in every five Americans will be age 65 or older, up from about 13 percent of the population now. The number of those who are 85 and older will more than double, making up about 5 percent of the population.

The Baby Boomer generation is driving this shift. Born between the years 1946 and 1964, they were (at the time) the largest generation. Now, they are nearing retirement age but staying more active than ever.

That’s why jobs in aging services management and gerontology have increased in recent years. It’s a trend that will continue for decades to come.

Challenges Faced By The Aging

Unlike previous generations, those moving into their senior years are enjoying the benefits of innovations in healthcare and knowing more about preventive actions to take to avoid many health problems.

Still, there are issues that those in aging services management will face in helping those who are 65 and older. They include:

  • Obesity, which has grown into an issue facing the young and old alike
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Dealing with chronic pain

For those with an interest in helping others and a desire to work with older Americans, the field of gerontology offers many opportunities.

Getting Into Gerontology

The term gerontology describes the study of aging and the treatment of conditions associated with aging. For those interested in the top jobs in the profession, earning a master’s degree will typically be a requirement. That’s why universities have added many degree programs targeted at this specific field.

For example, the University of Massachusetts now offers a Master’s of Gerontology - Management of Aging Services. The degree is offered 100% online, making it easier for working professionals to bolster their careers while maintaining their current jobs.

Students learn about working in variety of areas within aging services. These include both long-term and short-term care, as well as overseeing service-supported housing, community service organizations, health services for the elderly and techniques for marketing to the aging population.

Jobs In Aging Services

Earning a master’s degree prepares professionals to move into some of the top jobs in the industry. There are currently a shortage of these types of workers in many areas, according to the American Society on Aging. That means a wealth of opportunity for those wishing to get into the field.

The jobs for those with a degree in managing aging services include management of the following.

  • Residential care facilities
  • Home-health agencies
  • Departments within hospital that offers aging services
  • Community healthcare agencies

As noted by the American Society on Aging, developing qualified workers in aging services is “no longer a backwater issue.” Part of the solution is having more people enter this specialized field.

For those with an interest in providing services to the elderly, it’s an occupation worthy of consideration.