Defined as the study of cultural, social, biological, and psychological effects of aging, gerontology is a field that is rapidly growing. It is not to be confused with geriatrics. While they share certain overlapping disciplines, those who study geriatrics focus their attention on the medical issues involved with aging, while gerontologists examine many other areas, including government planning as well as oversight of nursing homes and adult care communities.
As the population ages, individuals involved with gerontology will find themselves in greater demand. This is one area that can provide both financial rewards, as well as a sense of accomplishment that comes from doing a job that helps out one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. Gerontology has its roots back in the ninth century when Islamic scholars began writing about the importance of caring for the elderly. Since the 14th Century, the aging population started to live longer but it was not until the Industrial Revolution that gerontology became an actual discipline.
Artificial Intelligence and Gerontology
Gerontology touches on some very unique disciplines, including the ever-expanding field of artificial intelligence (AI). According to Forbes, by the year 2030, the United States is going to face a shortage of physicians, ranging from 40,000 to 103,000. To provide the best medical care possible for the elderly, healthcare providers are turning to AI for assistance. Gerontologists are using AI in order to improve th early detection of diseases of the elderly, as well as monitor patients and integrate into treatment programs with caregivers. One of the ways that AI and gerontology have combined in order to ensure the safety of the aging population is to incorporate smart devices with fall detection. If an elderly person wearing a smart device falls, healthcare service providers are notified and send assistance.
This discipline focuses on modifying existing spaces and creating new spaces designed for maximum safety and efficiency for the aging population. Architects involved with environmental gerontology work to make homes for the elderly that contain ramps for wheelchairs, as well as having all living spaces on the ground floor. According to the Gerontological Society of America, advances made within the environmental gerontology field have helped to improve both the residential aspects of the discipline, as well as adult care planned communities.
A fairly new area within the gerontology community is that of geriatric jurisprudence. This is the area involving the law and the aging population. One aspect of geriatric jurisprudence focuses on guardianship for those who are mentally impaired due to dementia, for example, and other aspects include guidelines for end of life decisions, as well as regulations for institutions involved with caring for the elderly.
Related Resource: 15 Best Affordable Gerontology Degree Programs
With a population that is aging, entrepreneurs find themselves with an entirely new market to build. Companies that take the knowledge that the older population possesses and incorporate ideas and talents into the new markets find themselves at the forefront of new economic opportunities.
Gerontologists have the advantage of being involved with a study and a discipline that encompass virtually dozens of different fields of study. They possess the ability to bring improvements to an aging population, enriching the golden years of an entire generation.