It is often said that the older the population of a society, the less economic output it can offer. While this is true, the fact is that if the older population is relatively healthy, and there are reduced levels of disability, the expected adverse economic effects are reduced or even eliminated. Meaning that older people can then contribute their quota to social and economic development within their communities.
For this to be achieved, the health of this population must be prioritized, which means there is a need for a strong gerontology healthcare system. The question then is, what exactly is adult gerontology healthcare and what rewards does it offer to those who choose to follow this career path?
What is adult gerontology healthcare?
Adult gerontology healthcare refers to the specific study of the aging process as it relates to health. It examines the health challenges and issues that older people face, such as reduced immunity, decreased bone density and weaker respiratory and physical strength. Adult gerontology healthcare aims to ensure that older patients receive high-quality healthcare that is tailored to their specific health needs which improves their overall quality of life.
The field is all-encompassing in the sense that it addresses not just the physiological health issues and challenges that older people face but also the mental, emotional and even social changes that they experience that impact their overall wellbeing.
Gerontology involves many different aspects, including the biology of aging, end-of-life care, policy and advocacy, social gerontology and healthcare. It involves an application of the knowledge of the aging process to healthcare and ensuring that healthcare policies that are well-suited to the needs of the elderly are implemented.
It should be noted that a career in adult gerontology differs from a career in the closely related field of geriatrics which focuses solely on the medical care of older patients. The broader nature of adult gerontology allows for the involvement of more professionals, including healthcare professionals, social workers, policymakers and advocates. There are two major aspects of adult gerontology healthcare, which include:
Adult-gerontology acute care
Adult-gerontology acute care is an area of adult-gerontology health care that focuses on managing and providing medical care to chronically or acutely ill adults and aged patients. This type of care is mostly provided within hospital or intensive care settings. The emphasis of adult-gerontology acute care is on the treatment of chronic ailments and injuries in older patients.
Adult-gerontology primary care
On the other hand, adult-gerontology primary care refers to routine, preventive and comprehensive healthcare services provided to adult patients. The emphasis of adult-gerontology primary care is the management of diseases to improve the wellbeing and functionality of older adults. This type of care typically occurs in outpatient and primary healthcare settings.
Why is adult gerontology healthcare a rewarding career path?
We have established how crucial it is that adults and older adults be provided with high-quality care to ensure the full functionality of our society. However, the question of why people should choose this as a career path remains unanswered. In this section, we will highlight some of the reasons why adult gerontology healthcare is a rewarding option to consider.
Demand for gerontological care is rising
With the aging global population rising, the responsibility of caring for our older population has shifted significantly to professionals in the health sector. In particular, professionals who understand the needs of older people are in higher demand, meaning there are many opportunities to work in this field.
Multidisciplinary approach to care
The encompassing nature of adult gerontology allows for the broader participation of more professionals within and outside the health sector. Adult gerontology supports collaboration with other professionals and allows those who are not necessarily licensed medical practitioners to offer healthcare services to the aged.
Holistic approach to healthcare
Adult gerontology addresses all aspects of patient care, from physiological to mental and social, and treatment options that allow patients to stay optimally healthy are employed. This is necessary because an undue focus on only one aspect of care will not promote a full recovery and optimal patient health.
Job satisfaction and fulfillment come with doing what we love and helping others live their lives to the fullest. Working with older adults can be incredibly rewarding as you have the unique opportunity to positively impact their health, wellbeing and overall quality of life.
As a healthcare professional in this field, you will continuously learn and grow, facing diverse medical challenges that come with aging. This continuous learning process can keep the job interesting and intellectually stimulating. Also, because this is a specialized area of care, there is a degree of job security for those who are truly skilled.
How to get into adult gerontology healthcare
Adult gerontology healthcare is a fulfilling and rewarding career path for those who have a passion for helping older adults and are interested in addressing the unique health challenges of aging. For those interested in this career path, the question that remains to be answered then is, how can one become an adult-gerontology professional? To get into adult gerontology healthcare, you can take the following steps:
Obtain a bachelor’s degree
Start by earning a Bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) at any accredited program of your choice. There are many ways to get a nursing degree; choose one that best suits your unique situation.
Become a registered nurse (RN)
After obtaining your Bachelor’s degree, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed RN. Becoming a registered nurse gives you the opportunity to then proceed to apply for an advanced program that will launch your career in gerontology.
Gain clinical experience
Although this is not compulsory, it is advisable that you get some clinical experience by working in a variety of healthcare settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes or home healthcare agencies, to gain hands-on experience in adult gerontology healthcare.
Pursue a master’s degree
After gaining some practical nursing experience, you can pursue a Master’s in Nursing degree. This will allow you to specialize in providing healthcare to adult and elderly patients.
Once you have completed your Master’s degree, you can pursue certification as a nurse practitioner. You can take either the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) exam. Both exams will help you become certified in adult gerontology healthcare.
AANP vs ANCC is a debate that many nursing practitioners often find themselves embroiled in when considering a specialty. Both credentials are well recognized and respected in the healthcare industry. In addition, ANCC offers a wide range of certifications, including specialties such as acute care, pediatric, psychiatric and adult-gerontology nurse practitioner certifications.
If you’re looking to specialize in a particular area, ANCC might have a certification that suits your goals. Earning a Master’s in Nursing degree from a reputable institution such as Spring Arbor University prepares you to take either certification. Their accredited programs give you the flexibility to specialize in your chosen area, with online coursework to fit around your schedule.
Get a job in the field
Upon completing your studies, the next step would be to apply for adult gerontology jobs that will enable you to apply your skills. When applying for a job, carefully consider the factors that will make for a fulfilling career in gerontology for you.
Caring for older patients requires not just medical knowledge and multiple certifications, it also requires that the practitioner develops valuable skills such as resilience, empathy, the ability to work in stressful situations and emotional intelligence. Getting started as an adult-gerontology practitioner also requires a level of passion and interest in managing the care of the aging population. There is no disputing that older patients can be difficult at times but seeing them get better and participate fully in society is always worth the effort.