What Is Gerontology and Why Should You Pursue a Degree in This Growing Field?

Reaching the age of 60 would have been impressive a century ago. Now, however, there are approximately 125 million people around the world aged 80 years or older. For seniors, these additional years are an opportunity to create new memories, pursue forgotten passions and contribute to their communities and families. However, despite the fact that older adults are living longer than their parents did, there’s little to suggest that they’re living healthier lives.  

Everyone must contend with physical and mental declines as they age, not to mention the growing risk of disease. Life events, such as retirement, relocation and the death of loved ones, can also take their toll on aging individuals. Gerontology is a field of study devoted to helping older adults overcome these challenges and make the most of a long life. It’s a growing field rife with opportunity, especially for professionals who earn a degree in gerontology.   

The University of Florida offers entirely online gerontology graduate programs that can help you advance your career in this growing and exciting field. We’re confident that one of our graduate credentials will inform and advance your career in gerontology, but before you apply, we’d like to shed some light on this complex field and the benefits of continuing your education at UF.  

Gerontology: A Field of Study 
Gerontology is the study of aging, specifically the changes that occur in cells, tissues, organ systems, individuals and populations as time passes. While aging is an ongoing and lifelong process, gerontology is concerned with age-related biologic, sociologic and psychologic changes and influencing factors. This professional field is comprised of physicians, nurses, social scientists and others who specialize in applying their knowledge toward policies beneficial for aging populations.  

The purpose of gerontology isn’t to extend life but to improve its quality by minimizing the impact of age-related diseases and conditions. Gerontologists advocate for the unique needs of older adults, which vary depending on a person’s race, gender and health. Their duties may entail coordinating housing, legal, transportation, nursing and other essential eldercare services. Alternatively, they may use their research expertise to explore issues affecting older adults, such as ageism or dementia. Regardless of their specific responsibilities, gerontologists are devoted to helping older adults maintain their health and independence as they transition from one stage of life to the next.  

Why Earn a Degree in Gerontology?  
UF’s online MS in gerontology program provides a comprehensive and personalized curriculum covering the biological, clinical, psychological, sociologic, legal and ethical aspects of aging. Throughout our program, you’ll deepen your knowledge of aging in preparation for providing older adults with services as a gerontologist or quality health care as a geriatrician. Depending on your goals, you’ll also be able to tailor your degree with one of three specialty tracks: Geriatric Care Management, Psychosocial Gerontology and Medical Physiology.  

Geriatrics: A Branch of Medicine  
Adults over the age of 65 are susceptible to a number of conditions, including diabetes, depression and dementia. Geriatric symptoms, such as falls, frailty, weight loss and urinary incontinence also emerge during this time. As part of the broader field of gerontology, geriatrics is a board-certified medical specialty devoted to preventing, diagnosing and treating age-related conditions that can threaten a person’s health and independence.  

The New York Times reports that about one in three adults over the age of 65 require the assistance of a geriatrician to overcome diseases and geriatric symptoms. This number only increases when an individual is over the age of 85 and has three or more chronic conditions. For this reason, geriatricians, including physicians, physician assistants and nurses, will be in high demand as the aging population continues to grow at a dramatic pace.  

Why Earn a Graduate Credential in Geriatrics?  
An aspiring geriatrician must first become a licensed medical professional, a task that can be accelerated by earning a graduate credential. UF’s Graduate Certificate in Aging and Geriatric Practice is designed specifically to help aspiring professionals prepare for and gain entry into health-profession school. As long as students are accepted and in good academic standing, all 15 credit hours earned in this graduate certificate program can be transferred to the master’s degree. The MS in gerontology’s Medical Physiology track can further help students impress admissions committees and prepare for the rigors of medical school.    

Why Earn a Graduate Credential in Gerontology at UF?  
UF offers both a Master of Science in Medical Sciences with a concentration in Gerontology and a Graduate Certificate in Aging and Geriatric Practice. Entirely online, these programs will help you advance your career in the field of aging without impacting your personal or professional life. View multimedia materials, complete assignments and participate in discussion boards, all from the comfort of your own home.  

Our online master’s degree and graduate certificate programs are:  

  • Accessible: GRE scores and clinical experience are not required.   
  • Affordable: Tuition is competitively priced and the same for all students.  
  • Flexible: Courses are entirely online and asynchronous.  

Throughout our program, you’ll be taught by leading doctors and researchers in the field of aging and engage with your fellow students in a supportive online environment. This is an excellent opportunity to not only deepen your knowledge of gerontology but also build professional relationships that may prove invaluable in health-profession school or your career. Upon graduation, you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned to improve the lives of older adults — and your own. Apply now to one of our online gerontology graduate programs and become a part of the next generation of gerontological specialists.  

Sources:
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health
https://www.americangeriatrics.org/geriatrics-profession/about-geriatrics
https://www.britannica.com/science/gerontology