“In 2011, the Baby Boom generation, people born from 1946 to 1964, began to turn 65.”
That’s the first sentence of the Census Bureau’s latest report on aging, which goes on to describe a growing elderly population: from 13% of all Americans in 2010 to nearly 21% in 2050.
It’s no surprise that gerontology, the study of aging, is becoming more and more important to people — for a wide variety of reasons, professional and personal.
The students who take our Professional Development in Gerontology Certificate reflect this diversity. Many, like Fran Crute, are caregivers who need to learn about the medical, social and legal aspects of caring for older adults.
Fran never pictured herself taking care of two parents with dementia, but now that she is, she said the course has been “invaluable.”
“I have grown so much in the nine months I’ve taken this class,” she said. “I’m just grateful that I was able to learn about this class, and I will tell everyone in this situation that they absolutely have to take this course. You need to educate yourself on being a caregiver. There’s so much involved.”
She’s taking away a wealth of information, from learning about elder law and retirement to finding caregiver organizations and support groups. And she’s decided she wants to go into social work to help families like hers.
A Passion for Serving Seniors
Others take the class to help with their careers. Soukhy Clark is a licensed nursing home administrator and the executive director managing a retirement community. She said the course will help better serve the senior community and empower her employees and team members to become advocates in the field.
Zola Thurmond, another recent grad, doesn’t work in the field yet but wants to. She owns her own company, which she’s planning to transition toward healthcare and serving seniors. She first took the Certified Nursing Assistant course to help with caring for her mother, then signed up for Gerontology.
“I needed to know and understand the aging process, and that’s what this class has taught me,” Zola said. “I know I want to work with the older population. I have this dream of having an assisted living facility and I needed the background and the training on how to do that.”
Diane Hishta shares a similar passion. As a registered nurse, she worked in pediatric and adolescent medicine for 13 years, but caring for her mother and in-laws led her to something different.
“I wanted to change,” she said. “I didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing. I wanted to have something that was meaningful to help me decide if I wanted to make another career move. When I saw this course, I literally jumped at it. It may be that I’m only going to use this in a volunteer capacity, but I do feel like I’d like to focus on something in senior services.”
Meeting once a month for nine months fit perfectly with her schedule, Diane said.