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Gerontologists in Great Demand

Gerontologists in Great Demand

Did you know in 1916 the average life expectancy in America was 49.6 years for males and 54.3 years for females? Today, just 100 years later, those numbers have greatly increased to 76.4 and 81.2, respectively (CDC). As a result, by 2030, roughly 31 million Americans will be older than 75, the largest such population in American history (U.S. Census Bureau projections).

As quoted in the recent New York Times feature titled As Population Ages, Where Are the Geriatricians?, Terry Fulmer, president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, which funds programs to improve the care of older adults, said, “One of the greatest stories of the 20th century was that we doubled the life expectancy of adults. Now we need to make sure we have all the supports in place to assure not just a long life but a high quality of that long life.”

Program Provides Answer to Aging Population
By 2050, its projected there will be 88.5 million Americans aged 65 and older – more than double that of 2010 (U.S. Census Bureau). The booming elderly population has led to several career opportunities. According to the AJC, services for the elderly and disabled is Georgia’s 3rd-fastest growing job industry with a growth of 56% since 2008. Our Professional Development in Gerontology Certificate program is a direct response to these trends and needs. The course examines the revolution occurring in the U.S. and the world as the average age continues to rise.

Students in the Gerontology program will gain increased knowledge, skills and confidence in the aging field, become prepared for emerging roles and new challenges in the aging arena, meet leaders and other professionals in the field and increase their organization’s level of professionalism.

“I wanted to be more educated about the aging process and be able to give back to the community,” said Zola Thurmond, program graduate. “The program was extraordinary. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. It changed my life because I know about the process of aging, what to expect, and how to help others.”

The nine-month class runs from September through May. One full-day class (9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) meets on the second Tuesday of each month, providing flexibility for working individuals to attend. Dr. Lois Ricci enters her sixth year of instructing the course. She has worked in the field of aging for more than 35 years in both the hospital and academic settings as a geriatric nurse practitioner/educator and consultant.

“Dr. Ricci is a true gem,” said Chris Foster, program graduate. “Her vast experience and resources in gerontology were conveyed in a very practical and easy to understand manner.”

The class is comprised of interdisciplinary teaching, supportive learning and exposure to leaders in aging applicable to the students’ workplace. It draws from a diverse group of students including those that are dentists, doctors, lawyers, paralegals, nursing students, caregivers and career changers.

Registration costs $699 with full and partial scholarship opportunities available. Since its 2007 inception, the program has graduated more than 200 students. Of those, 134 students have been awarded scholarships totaling $73,225 allowing them to take part in the class.

“This course helped me to take care of my parents,” said Fran Crute, program graduate. “Both of them have dementia, diabetes, and high blood pressure. I really learned a lot and am thankful for this class.”

Is Gerontology for You?
There are a many reasons why our students register for this program. Perhaps you work in the healthcare industry and want to relate better to the older generation. Or, maybe you want to learn successful techniques to properly care for your parents or grandparents. No matter what your situation is we’d like to invite you to find out more at our upcoming Open House on July 28. The next class is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Sept. 13.

Census Data

  • Currently, 1 in 8 individuals in the U.S. is over age 65. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • The elderly population will more than double between 2000 and 2030. By 2030, 1 in every 4 individuals will be over age 65. (Steuben Senior Services Fund, Inc.)
  • Between 2010 and 2050, the United States is projected to experience rapid growth in its older population. In 2050, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to be 88.5 million, more than double its reported population of 40.2 million in 2010. (U.S. Census Bureau)

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