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Dr. Aaron Blight Answers: Is Gerontology a Growing Career Field?

Caregiving consultant and healthcare keynote speaker Dr. Aaron Blight often takes time to post topics and answer questions on Quora about senior care, caregiving organizational development, healthcare consulting, and many other topics. For December’s entry, we highlight his recent answer to a question regarding gerontology.

“Is gerontology a growing career field?”

Not to be confused with geriatrics, the medical specialty, gerontology involves the study of the physical, mental, and social aspects of human aging. In response to your question, I would highlight some of the trends in our society:

  • people are living longer lives than ever before in the history of the world;
  • people are living with chronic conditions longer than ever before in the history of the world;
  • the fastest growing segment of the population is the 85+ age group;
  • this year, for the first time ever in human history, there are more people over age 65 than under age 5;
  • the number of people over age 65 will dramatically increase over the rest of the century, while the number of children under age 5 will remain fairly constant;
  • there’s a shortage of professionals who are prepared to deal with the social, behavioral, physical, and economic implications of our aging population.

Here’s a chart showing the forecasted future of the global population of 65+ year old people compared to the global population of children under age 5:

world population graph

In light of the above conditions, is gerontology a growing career field? You better believe it is. Moreover, as you might anticipate by looking at the chart derived from United Nations forecasting, the need for gerontologists is only going to increase in the foreseeable future.

The growing demand for gerontologists alone is a compelling reason to choose this career path. But here are three additional reasons why the field is super interesting:

First is the universality of gerontology.

Aging happens to every single one of us, so you study stuff that everybody can relate to. Stuff that really matters. By examining the wide-ranging dimensions of aging, gerontology encompasses the very essence of human life.

Second is the interdisciplinary nature of gerontology.

Gerontology draws from all disciplines that have something to teach us about aging humans, including biology, medicine, sociology, psychology, public health, anthropology, etc. Gerontologists are not limited to the “tools” or the ”lens” of one particular discipline, which produces a rich and multi-faceted view of the subject.

Third is the array of career paths chosen by those who study gerontology.

Trained gerontologists are found across a diverse spectrum of work settings, including government, academia, business, non-profit, healthcare, and long-term care organizations. If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in gerontology, you may find that your knowledge is translatable, relevant, and valuable to many different groups who need help serving an aging population.

Useful links:

Link to the Career Center of the Gerontological Society of America.

Link to an article on how Gerontologists Are Becoming a Hotter Hire as Consumers Age.

Link to a dated but informative article from a social work publication asking “Is a gerontology career in your future?