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Psy 320: Introduction to Geropsychology What is Gerontology? PRESENTED BY Dr. Rob Winningham.

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Presentation on theme: "Psy 320: Introduction to Geropsychology What is Gerontology? PRESENTED BY Dr. Rob Winningham."— Presentation transcript:


2 Psy 320: Introduction to Geropsychology What is Gerontology? PRESENTED BY Dr. Rob Winningham

3 What is Gerontology? Gerontology is the study of the elderly, and of the aging process itself. It is to be distinguished from geriatrics, which is the study of the diseases of the elderly. Gerontology covers the social, psychological and biological aspects of aging.

4 What is Gerontology? Another distinction that has been made is that gerontology is concerned with healthy aging while geriatrics is concerned with problems associated with aging. Although, I will argue that the lines between geriatrics and gerontology are becoming blurred because the field and our understanding is increasingly interdisciplinary.

5 What is Gerontology? Neuroscience, psychology and medicine are converging on numerous issues related to aging. Moreover, lifestyle factors such as cognitive exercise, physical exercise, social support, good nutrition, personality, and good cardiovascular health are associated with preventing age-related health problems.

6 History of Gerontology Gerontology is a relatively new field. A few publications exist before 1900 but relatively little research had been done on the topic until the 1930’s and 1940’s. But still, developmental psychology focused primarily on children during the 1900’s. Then a movement towards life-span psychology and finally aging adulthood took root in psychology. And, in the past 25 years we have seen an increase in the quantity and quality of research in gerontology.


8 Question: Why has it taken so long for gerontology to get going? A belief that after young adulthood people experienced a slow and steady decline Life expectancies have increased dramatically in the past century due to better nutrition, sanitation, and some life saving advances.

9 Why study gerontology and geriatrics? Our population is aging and these fields are and will continue to improve the quality of life for older adults. In my opinion, gerontology is the field in which young people interested in helping others can make the most impact.

10 Demographic Information Baby boomer's (DOB 1946-1964) are America's largest ever cohort. Baby boomer’s parents had many children while boomers are having relatively few. Every 7 seconds another boomer turns 55, that will be 686 people during the next hour. There is an increased life expectancy (up 15 years by 2050 according to 2000 Census Bureau)

11 Demographic Information According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of people 85 and older increased by 33.2 percent between the years 2000 and 2010. This will trend will continue and even accelerate once the boomers begin to turn 85.

12 Demographic Information Courtesy of National Institute on Aging, Bureau of the Census


14 Demographic Information The number of women in the work force grew from 20.5 percent in 1915 to more than 50 percent in 1995. In the past, many women would care for aging parents and grandparents. However, this is less likely now because many more women have entered the work force.

15 Demographic Information We have a highly mobile society. People are less likely to care for aging family members because they don’t live in the same communities. More older adults will be living alone, increasing from 10.9% in 2005 to 15.2% in 2020. The number of older adults living alone rises with age.

16 Challenges and Opportunities The aging population will live longer and require more services from a relatively smaller generation. This will certainly pose challenges but there are also many opportunities if we plan ahead. We can help maintain a maximal quality of life for older adults and take advantage of new employment opportunities.

17 Aging Video on-Joe-Coughlin-Aging-2 on-Joe-Coughlin-Aging-2

18 Societal Changes Family environments have changed. Employment opportunities will change (more on that later). Social Security, as we know it, will have to change. Insurance, as we know it, will have to change. Living environments will change.

19 Living Environments Currently there are more than 6 million people living in specialized older adult situations. It is estimated that by 2040 that number will soar to 24 million. This change will create new labor intensive industries.

20 Living Environments Nomadic, snow birds Retirement communities Assisted living facilities Nursing homes and memory wards

21 Retirement Communities Continuing Care Retirement Communities “Aging in Place” Lifelong commitment

22 Assisted Living Facilities Assisted living facilities (ALFs) provide a certain amount of care but usually less than nursing homes. There are over 20,000 ALFs in the U.S., with over 1 million residents. This number is increasing rapidly. These facilities employ large numbers of people.

23 Nursing Homes and Memory Wards Evans et al., (2003) wrote that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) in the United States will increase from 4.5 million in 2000 to between 11 and 16 million by the year 2050. Most AD patients ultimately live in specialized facilities. These facilities are very labor intensive given the need for low caregiver : patient ratios. Moreover, these facilities require significant support from non-caregiving employees

24 Aging is Expensive The current cost of Alzheimer’s Disease has been estimated at more than 100 billion dollars each year. The average patient will incur $174,000 in expenses. Within 10 years, annual Alzheimer's -related Medicare costs will increase from $32 billion to almost $50 billion- even before the baby boomers enter the age of risk.

25 Changes in the Workforce: A Job Boom? Obviously, the aging population will cause numerous changes to this country’s workforce. Current situation may be viewed negatively: Jobless economic recovery? Outsourcing U.S. jobs Increasing worker productivity Limited manufacturing

26 There are many opportunities Skilled vacancies will become available: Research and Writing Retirement Industry Leisure Industry Social Work and Senior Services Education Medical Industry

27 Research Pharmacological research Genetics Nutrition Gerotechnology and assistive devices Public policy Advocacy Alzheimer’s Disease Memory and Cognitive Enhancement

28 Alzheimer’s Research “My message is simple. You will not —you cannot— save Medicare and Medicaid unless you get Alzheimer's disease under control. You will not —you cannot—balance federal and state budgets if you let Alzheimer's disease continue on its present course.” Sheldon Goldberg, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association

29 Alzheimer’s Research In 2003, the National Institutes of Health spent $640 million on research related to Alzheimer’s Disease. Millions more is being spent to research other aging issues.

30 Research We have done and are doing a good job of extending longevity. Now we need to do a better job of increasing quality of life for older adults. We also need to help them maintain their independence for as long as they can.

31 Retirement Living Communities (480% increase in next 36 years) Dieticians Nurses/CNAs Activity Directors Cooks Drivers Physical plant support

32 Leisure Industry "RV sales are right ahead of a big demographic wave, and we've just barely scratched that surface," according to William Gibson, RV industry analyst with Banc of America Securities. Over 7 million U.S. households have RVs and the growth rate is very high. Currently this is a $10 Billion a year industry.

33 Leisure Industry Older adults are becoming healthier, more fitness conscious, and more financially stable than previous generations. Resort Living Cruise ships

34 Leisure Industry Cruise passengers worldwide reached a record 10 million in 2000 and doubled again to nearly 22 million by 2010. This trend is likely to continue.

35 Leisure Industry 95 million visits are made to spas in the U.S. annually generating $5 billion. Spas generate more in revenue than ski resorts ($3.1 billion) and only slightly less than box office receipts ($7.5 billion).

36 Social Work and Senior Services Navigate federal bureaucracy End of life care Advocate on older adults’ behalf Work with medical personal and patients’ families Financial services for older adults Senior centers and advocacy groups

37 Education Lifelong learning specialists Continuing education for worker and volunteers (8 in 10 boomers expect to work at least part time after they “retire”).

38 Writing According to a freelance writers association, “aging baby boomers will provide a market for writers.” There are many senior publications and websites Health issues Financial issues Love and romance Any human interest story

39 Medical Industry Over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 255,000 openings for therapists, including physical and respiratory therapists and speech pathologists.

40 Medical Industry - Nursing According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million new and replacement nurses will be needed. The U.S. Department of Labor projects a sharp increase in the need for nurses nationwide in the coming years.

41 Medical Industry Physical Therapists (neurological, cognitive, and ambulatory) Occupational Therapists Speech Therapists Geriatric specialists

42 Ways to age and older adulthood Chronological age Biological age-wrinkles, cardiovascular health, telomeres, gray hair, speed of processing

43 Ways to age and older adulthood Functional age-what do they do (work, childcare, socialize, travel) Psychological age (e.g., adaptiveness, willing to try new things?) Social age (i.e., relative to social norms regarding lifestyle and milestones)

44 In general we can talk about three classes of aging Young-old (65-74) Old-old (75-84) Oldest-old (85+) The above terminology is well accepted among researchers but we need to keep in mind that there is a great deal of individual variability. And, it may be offensive to an active 75 year old to call the “old-old.”

45 Discussion Question Briefly, what are your career goals? Psy 320: Introduction to Geropsychology

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