Industry Overview

Societal Need: Canada’s Aging Population

According to population projections, Canada’s population is aging fast and senior citizens will outnumber children in about a decade. Specifically, by 2031, the number of people aged 65 and over will range between 8.9 million and 9.4 million while children will range between 4.8-6.6 million. This will present an unprecedented situation in Canada.

These projections are based on the aging of the baby boomers (individuals born soon after the Second World War) and the rapid decline in fertility, referred to as the baby bust, which has been the trend since the baby boom.

In every projected scenario, the median age of the population continues to rise. In addition, the proportion of people aged over 80 continues to increase sharply. As a result the proportion of the working-age population will decline steadily in the 2010s and 2020s. Thus, there is a growing need to understand these imminent demographic changes and their impact through the study of gerontology.

What is Gerontology?

Gerontology, the scientific study of aging, is a field of inquiry that draws from many disciplines including biology, psychology, sociology, political science, history, heath policy, ethics, anthropology, and economics. More recently, issues in gerontology are also becoming important in the specialized practice of architecture, environment and product design, urban planning, occupational and physical therapy. In addition, gerontology specific issues have become integrated in many professional fields including public health, nursing, social work, medicine, and law (S.C. Bass and K.F. Ferraro, 2000). Finally, Gerontology is influencing the provision of leisure and recreation, travel and in-home services, financial services, transportation, educational programs, volunteer activities, adult day care, and job placement.

Why Study Gerontology?

Improvement in the standard of living and better medical care has resulted in Canadians leading longer and healthier lives. This has resulted in the growth of the “Mature Market”. A need for those who understand and serve this market is also growing. It is projected that doctors, nurses, dentists, occupational and physical therapists, and social workers that are trained in geriatric care and gerontology will be needed. Gerontology is still regarded as an up-and-coming field and related jobs are expected to be in high demand over the next several decades.

To meet the needs of the growing aging population, many job opportunities that require specialization in the field of gerontology are now emerging. The following list provides a non-comprehensive overview of the kinds of relevant job opportunities currently available (http://hhs.unr.edu/gerontology/careers_opp.html, http://www.unr.edu/gerontology/careers.htm):

Administration

  • Director of Social Services
  • Foster Grandparent Coordinator
  • Home Health Services Coordinator
  • Nursing Home Administrator
  • Ombudsman Program Coordinator
  • Program Director Administrator for State Agency on Aging Services
  • Residential Care/Assisted Living Administrator
  • Respite Care Program Administrator
  • Senior Center Director
  • Senior Companion
  • Senior Housing Project Manager
  • Senior Law Program Director
  • Volunteer Program Coordinator

Business, Finance, or Legal

  • Advertising and Marketing Products to Older Adults
  • Editor of a Publication for Seniors
  • Elder Law
  • Estate Planning
  • Investment Counselor
  • Pension Advisor
  • Pre-retirement Program Coordinator
  • Travel and Leisure Industry
  • Gerontology Consultant

Design

  • Interior Designer
  • Landscape Architect
  • Architect
  • Urban Planner
  • Product Designer

Education

  • College or University Professor in Gerontology
  • Continuing Education Coordinator
  • Elder College Coordinator
  • Gerontology Program Coordinator
  • Health Educator
  • Organizer of Workshops/Seminars for Older Adults
  • Scientific Researcher

The Field of Health

  • Adult Day Care Center Caregiver
  • Audiologist
  • Geriatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Geriatric Physician
  • Home Health Aide
  • Homemaker
  • Hospice Professional
  • Nutritionist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Optometrist
  • Personal Care Attendant
  • Physical Therapist
  • Podiatrist
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Senior Companion
  • Social Worker in Hospital
  • Social Worker in Long-term Care Facility
  • Speech Therapist

Social Services

  • Activities/Recreation Director
  • Caregiver Support Group Facilitator
  • Case Worker in Adult Protective Services
  • Geriatric Case Manager
  • Homebound Shoppers Program Director
  • Marriage and Family Counselor
  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Retirement Counselor
  • Senior Employment Counselor
  • Social Services Case Manager
  • Social Worker in Government Agency on Aging