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The growth of the older population is a major demographic challenge for our society and
I view it as an opportunity not as a problem. So currently older adults are about 13% of
the total population, by the 2030 it’ll be about 20% and there’s a tremendous need
for professionals and paraprofessionals who have gerontological expertise to work with
this current population. A lot of people avoid thinking about aging, they don’t want to
think about aging, they associate aging with death and dying. And so we have that barrier
to overcome but I always say once you recruit someone to work with older adults, they get
We’ve had people who’ve shifted from banking, real estate or legal assistants, some people
make pretty major changes. The majority are individuals who they have a bachelor’s degree,
they’ve been working either in the field with older adults but never had any training
or they’re making a career change. We’ve had people who are personal trainers but they
are working so much older adults in their jobs who want to take the courses so they
understand the age related changes. We have people that may have been in the travel industry
and they are seeing a lot of older people who are traveling. So you don’t have to
be someone who’s only going to specialize in gerontology to benefit.
We cover the three major aspects of aging, the biological, the socio-cultural, and the
psychological. All three of the first courses involve students interviewing an older adult.
And then, the last course a true Capstone course where students will spend some time
with an agency that they select that’s convenient for them and understand the policies that
impact that agency, how the organizational structural makes a difference in serving clients
and have the chance to interact with some agency staff.
The obvious advantage of the online is that anybody can take it at any time. One of the
most common ways they connect is through a discussion board. They’ll pose particular
questions and students are expected to pose X number of responses. But many times the
students go way beyond the minimal expectation, so they get to know the instructor and each
other that way.
I want to really emphasize what an exciting field gerontology is, and it’s exciting
because it is changing so rapidly these days. I mean we pick up the New York Times and everyday
there seems to be a new article about research or practice innovation or you know, it’s
very very dynamic. And it’s very rewarding to work with older adults. You learn so much
you benefit from their wisdom and once people come into the field they love it.