What the heck is Gerontology? What does a Gerontologist do?
Gerontology is the all-encompassing study of aging and the problems related to aging. Many people confuse gerontology with geriatrics.
Geriatrics focuses only on the medical conditions and diseases of the aged, while Gerontology is the study of the process of aging. Gerontology and gerontologists look at the multi-faceted aspects of aging as it relates to the physical health, mental health, emotional well-being and social relationships of seniors. It is called a multidisciplinary field, as it incorporates biology (the general study of the body), physiology (the mechanical, physical, and biochemical processes of the body, or the functions and processes of the body), psychology (the study of thoughts and the mind), and sociology (the study of social relationships).
We also consider the theories of aging, age-related diseases and the risk factors associated with aging. Most importantly, Gerontologists look at preventable changes in our health and the many options for healthy aging, constantly emerging from the latest science, all which support aging in place. We study how to preserve and enhance our cognition and memory, what healthy foods and supplements best nourish our bodies as we get older, and how social relationships and social connection work to keep us vibrant every day.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau the life expectancy in the U.S. will be 77 years for men and 82 years for women by the year 2020. We, the aging population, face major challenges in maintaining our health and wellness. Gerontologists are specifically trained to meet and answer these challenges.
The practice of Gerontology is both a science and an art; it’s the blending of research and education, advocacy and care for the older adult population.