What Is Gerontology And What Does A Gerontologist Do?

The study of gerontology and geriatrics increases in importance as American life expectancy grows. Aging populations are not just prevalent in the US; globally, healthcare systems are struggling to cope with the demands of senior care. 

Think about your elderly loved ones. Who is looking after them? The majority of carers are relatives in the middle of their lives themselves. By 2030, Rural Health Information Hub projects that one in three Americans will be over 65. 

When a population ages rapidly, it requires professional and expert gerontologists. Sciences and medical sciences make strong career paths, and studying the aspects of aging with certification in gerontology guarantees a prosperous job outlook. 

If you love caring for people, want to help the older generation, and have a background in science, gerontology could be for you. Please read our guide to learn what gerontologists do, how much they earn, and how to become one. 

What is gerontology?

Gerontology is the study of aging processes, and it is a medical science that comprehensively explores the healthy aging of all adults. 

Gerontology is not limited to aging adults about a certain age. All of us are aging every day, and Gerontologists recognize that we can take measures from an early stage to improve the quality of our lives as we age. 

Gerontology similarly understands that aging does not occur at a specific biological age. As professional gerontologists research social aspects, they recognize that aging is generational and physical.

Gerontology is a medical specialty that focuses on the social, emotional, psychological, cognitive, and physical aspects. Gerontology careers might specialize in physical or social gerontological care and research. 

One of the most significant illnesses that affect the elderly population is Alzheimer's disease. Gerontologists engage in primary care for the affected patients and their loved ones. 

Whether you want to be a physical, psychological, or social gerontologist, consider becoming a member of the Academy for Gerontology. The academy details academic institutions where they offer gerontology studies. 

To prepare yourself for your undergraduate degree, take an online training course on the enhanced skills and knowledge all gerontologists need.

What is geriatrics?

Gerontology and geriatrics are often terms used interchangeably. However, they are different fields. 

While gerontology and geriatrics dedicate themselves to understanding the aging process, geriatrics does not focus on the behavioral and social elements. Rooted in medical science, a senior specialist focuses on the health of older adults.

 A geriatrics specialist usually has a background in biological sciences and medical school. Qualified doctors and clinical nurses can further their medical specialty training with a geriatrics education. 

Gerontologists and geriatric specialists usually work closely together to improve the quality of life for elderly patients. If you want to work in geriatrics, it's a good idea to gain experience in gerontology first. 

Understanding the entire aging process will make you a better, more qualified geriatric specialist. Consider enrolling in an online course to learn in-depth knowledge of gerontology. 

What does a gerontologist do?

Gerontology is such a broad field, and not every gerontologist can cover every aspect of the subject. There are several paths for a gerontologist to specialize in, these being:  

  • Applied gerontology. 

  • Research gerontology. 

  • Social gerontology. 

  • Administrative gerontology. 

Each career focus overlaps with each other; they are dependent on each other to function effectively. 

1. Applied gerontology

Applied gerontology is hands-on and has the most considerable overlap with geriatric work. Working directly with older adults, applied gerontologists focus on treating physical and biological aspects of aging. 

Daily personalized care, such as acting as a nursing assistant, physician assistant, and occupational therapy, are the sorts of tasks an applied gerontologist might do. 

They also take care of assisted living, transportation, meal assistance, and companionship. Applied gerontologists might also offer family caregiving for struggling relatives. 

Depending on the gerontologist's background, they might assist as a social worker for patients suffering from emotional or mental disorders.

2. Research gerontology

Gerontological researchers seek to improve the quality of life for the aging population. Researching the aging process tends to focus on understanding why changes occur in older people.

Research is not limited to biological sciences and medicine. They also investigate how societal factors, such as economics and art, impact aging. They might explore how diversity, equity, and inclusion affect elderly individuals. 

Gerontologist research is crucial to implement societal and policy changes to improve healthy aging. Applied, social and administrative gerontologists all rely on research to effective daily care for elderly individuals.

3. Social gerontology

Social gerontologists are an integral cog in progressing the efforts to care for aging individuals. 

Social gerontologists advocate for the improved care of the elderly. They aim to refashion society's way of thinking to advance enhanced health care and focus on preventing issues earlier in life. 

Social gerontologists might also help elderly individuals negotiate modern society's challenges, such as costly healthcare systems, education, and housing. 

4. Administrative gerontology

Administrative gerontologists coordinate gerontology programs and leaderships to assist the care of the elderly. As healthcare managers, they direct the administrative and organizational aspects of running elderly homes, adult day-care, and assisted living centers. 

They are in charge of managing personnel, implementing harmonious relationships, and creating policy and procedure. 

There are many profitable career opportunities for gerontology professionals. If you want to launch your career in gerontology, begin learning how to work with older adults on an online course. 

Where do gerontologists work?

There are different environments and workplaces for gerontologists, depending on which specialism you want to develop. 

Studying geriatric medicine creates opportunities for many different job roles, including healthcare providers and clinical research in the study of aging. A geriatric social worker, for example, might work in residential communities as well as nursing homes and assisted care facilities. 

Nursing home administrators might find themselves working in a living facility. A career in aging care can take you anywhere. Careers in gerontology require education and qualifications. Sign up for a training program in gerontology to get to grips with geriatric medicine and elderly home health. 

How much do gerontologists make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites the median pay for social and human services assistants as $35,960 per year. The job outlook is one of the fastest-growing in medical science careers. As the aging population takes its toll on healthcare systems, gerontologists are growing in demand. 

There are no specific statistics for the field of gerontology. However, healthcare assistance can earn anywhere between $27,000 to $100,000 a year, depending on the level of qualification. Geriatric care managers might hope to earn the higher end of this scale.

How do I become a gerontologist? 

If you want to begin a career in public health and patient care, the first step is to look for work experience. 

No matter which aspect of gerontology you wish to specialize in, getting experience around elderly individuals is invaluable. Keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities in nursing homes, clinical settings, and research facilities. 

Volunteering is an excellent way for a prospective student to get familiar with the field and decide it is the right path. Also, consider reaching out to care homes and assisted living facilities and shadowing experienced gerontologists and healthcare administrators. 

You need a background in social science, health sciences, biological sciences, and medical experience. Taking sciences at school will stand you in good stead for beginning your career if you can take sciences. 

You can also learn a science education with online academic programs. You might need an undergraduate degree for some gerontology roles, such as in research or geriatrics. 

There are few degrees in gerontology specifically; therefore, psychology, nursing, or human services courses will benefit. After college training, to specialize in gerontology, take an online certificate program in gerontology. 

At Courses for Success, we offer a Gerontology Online Certificate Course. The course teaches you everything you need to know about social gerontology and how to improve the quality of life of elderly patients.

If you're eager to get into the gerontology field, starting with a comprehensive training course will give you an advantage for this prosperous career.

Why Courses for Success? 

Courses for Success offers over 10,000 online courses, all of which aim to help you in your personal development and career progression. Not only that, but you can also study them anywhere and at any time, and take them at your own pace, too.

You don't need career diplomas or specific experience to get started. From our coding courses and trading courses to design courses and developer courses, every course we offer will help boost your prospects, no matter who you are.

Beyond just the education itself, students will be issued a certificate online after completing each of the learning courses they do. Our online gerontology courses are no exception and are recognized by industry leaders. You could make a name for yourself by signing up for a Courses for Success short course today.

The CFS Team
Helping You Achieve Success

Since 2008 We Have Helped Over 500,000 People Learn New Skills

Get a FREE Career Planner