What is “Aging Studies” in Social Science?

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According to “US News.com,” the number of seniors ages 65 and older in the United States is expected to more than double from 39 million today to 89 million in 2050. Baby Boomers are expected to have a longer retirement period than their parents did, and some may spend more years in retirement than they did in the workforce. All that points to a changing attitude about aging. If the retirement is a healthy one, then society must plan for the political and social effects of an older population. If the elderly are sick, we must plan to provide for their care. Those concerns, and more, fire interest in the field of aging studies.

What Does the Field of Aging Studies Include

Aging study covers many aspects of people as they get older. It focuses on the physiological, the psychological and the sociological issues of aging. People are involved in aging studies as practitioners and planners as well as researchers. The field involves the study of aging itself (gerontology), as well as focusing on what constitutes normal aging as opposed to age-related disease.

What Kinds of Degrees Do People in Aging Studies Have

Some schools and colleges offer certificates in aging studies. These are for people who are already working in the aging field in sub-professional roles such as nursing assistants or occupational therapy assistants. There are also associate degrees in aging studies which enable workers to refine their skills and to prepare for a four-year degree. Generally speaking, most degrees at the bachelor level are general studies with a minor in aging. Master’s degrees in aging are divided into three categories: social science, public health and administration. A master’s degree in aging studies is an adjunct to an education in nursing, nutrition, sociology and social work, public health or other related fields. Most advanced-degree programs involve internships as well as thesis projects.

What Kinds of Jobs are open in the Aging Study Field

Associate degrees and aging study certificates are for those people who want to better their skill set in jobs which do not require degrees. People who earn bachelor’s degrees are prepared to work in long-term care facilities, senior centers, government offices in aging at all levels, and other settings concerned with aging. Sometimes professionals who hold a bachelor’s degree decide to become certified in aging studies so that they can specialize. This often leads to a higher degree. Master level graduates can enter the job force as planners and evaluators of long-term care facilities or perhaps as consultants to the facilities. They could also be involved in making sure the facilities are in compliance with laws and guidelines. The tack they take determines the minors they include in their degrees, or what level of aging studies they incorporate into their major in a related field. (A person earning a degree in public health might incorporate aging studies in to his degree so that he could work in policy-setting for senior healthcare). Doctoral degree holders usually work in developing and administering programs for the elderly in many arenas.

As the population ages, studies of the aging process and its ramifications are increasingly important. The field is broad because the issues of aging span the economic field to the health-related and social areas, and because we all age.

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