Careers in Aging

Why Study Aging? 

Populations worldwide are aging. This means that people are living longer, and the number of older people is increasing. These trends are evident in American society, as well as in many countries around the world. Nearly half of Americans born in 1900 died before they were 50 years old. People born today can expect to live beyond their 75th year. In 1900 about 1 in 25 Americans were over 65; today, 1 in 8 is over 65. The age group growing fastest in our society and in many other countries is the "very old," people aged 85 and older.

What Jobs and Careers are available?

Professionals in the field of aging work in a variety of settings. These include:

  • Community, human services, and religious organizations
  • Health care and long-term care institutions
  • Federal, state and local government agencies, including the aging network (the system of service delivery to older adults established by a federal law entitled the Older Americans Act)
  • Retirement Communities
  • Academic and Other Educational and Research Settings
  • Professional Organizations
  • Business and Industry

Some professionals work directly with older adults in activities including:

  • Developing programs such as health promotions, senior theater groups or intergenerational activities
  • Providing direct care to frail, ill or impaired older adults in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or through adult day care or home care programs
  • Counseling older adults and their families about issues of caregiving, employment, death and dying, or mental health
  • Advising older clients about estate planning and investments, financing long-term care or housing options

Other professionals are less directly involved with older adults, but work on their behalf, educate others, or investigate issues in the field of aging. Examples include:

  • Conducting research on the aging process and diseases associated with aging, such as Alzheimer's disease or osteoporosis
  • Analyzing issues related to older adults, such as retirement opportunities, income maintenance, the health care system, and housing alternatives
  • Planning, administering, and evaluating community- based services and service delivery systems for older adults;
  • Teaching courses on aging to college and university students, health care professionals, and older adults,
  • Advocating with or on behalf of older adults before legislative bodies or in institutional settings
  • Designing products to meet the special interests and needs of older persons
  • Advising business, industry and labor regarding older workers and consumers

Source: Gloria D. Heinemann, Elizabeth B. Douglass, and Joy Lobenstine Whittington, "Careers in Aging: Consider the Possibilities." Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. 2003.

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