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College of Human Ecology

K-State Center on Aging Observing Careers in Aging Week

Thursday, April 13, 2006

MANHATTAN -- Courses in gerontology aren't just for people interested in working directly with the elderly, according to Gayle Doll, director of the Kansas State University Center on Aging.

They also can be beneficial to people seeking careers that will be affected by demographic trends that show America's elderly population is growing.

"U.S. Census Bureau estimates show the nation's older population -- people age 65 and up -- will reach 71.5 million by 2030, double what it was in 2002," Doll said. "Also, the fastest growing segment of the U.S.

population is people who are 85 or older -- the people who are most likely to required specialized services and products."

The week of April 17-22 is Careers in Aging Week, which is sponsored by the Gerontological Society of America and the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. The K-State Center on Aging is a member of both organizations and supports the week, which promotes the wide-ranging career opportunities that exist in aging and aging research.

K-State's gerontology program is offered as a secondary major. Doll recommends all students consider taking gerontology courses as a way to enhance their career options -- and to be prepared for future issues dealing with aging that will face the United States because of its growing elderly population.

Gerontology requires an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving, Doll said, which means students from all majors can benefit from taking gerontology courses.

"Having a secondary major in gerontology is an extra credential that can give students an edge in applying for jobs and in being successful in their careers," she said. "Our graduates are in a variety of fields. Their expertise in the field of aging allows them to accept positions specializing in the aging population or to simply take a regular job as an accountant or lawyer who will handle those cases related to aging at their firm."

According to Doll, some of the ways K-State graduates are using their expertise in gerontology include: as health care workers, including physicians, nurses, chiropractors and audiologists; as lawyers, advising hospitals, long-term care facilities and other health care providers in regulatory and compliance issues; as apparel designers for the handicapped and elderly; as dietitians specializing in nutrition for the elderly; and as art therapists and horticultural therapists who work with the older adults.

K-State faculty and students also are involved in research to help the aging, including Alzheimer's disease, healthy environments for the aging; long-term care and quality of life; older driver highway safety; swallowing disorders in older adults; nutrition and aging; macular degeneration and nutrition; and food safety.

The K-State Center on Aging is offering a free brochure, "Careers in Aging." To request a copy, contact the center at 785-532-5945, e-mail gerontology@k-state.edu or visit the center's Web site at http://www.k-state.edu/gerontology.

This article was posted on Thursday, April 13, 2006, and is filed under College News.