Gerontology - The Growing Need

The United States, like most developed nations, is currently experiencing a population change new to civilization. The population is aging. About one out of every nine U.S. citizens is 65 years of age or over, and about one out of eight Pennsylvanians is 65 or over. Current estimates are that both the number and percentage of elderly people will continue to rise for many years. There is a growing need for persons educated to understand the nature and needs of human aging.

Gerontology, the study of human aging and problems of the elderly, is a relatively new and developing field, and not all service systems have yet incorporated gerontology degrees into criteria for employment positions. However, feedback from today's students and employers in a wide variety of fields is that degrees or course work in gerontology can positively influence employability. There seems to be little doubt that with the predicted increases in both the number and the percentage of older persons in the population, some gerontology course work will be a valuable part of any professional resume.

Gerontology at Millersville

Millersville University has an interdisciplinary minor Gerontology. The program's objectives include increasing knowledge, examining values, and improving skills to help prepare students to live as and with aging people and to prepare them for a career in helping the elderly. The program also is designed to improve the understanding and competence of students already working within this specialized area.

The Gerontology student must complete 18 semester hours.

The Curriculum

Students pursuing the minor in gerontology are required to take the following courses (9.0 credits):

  • Gerontology 100: Introduction to Gerontology
  • Gerontology 210: Aging and the Law
  • Social Work 315: Grief and Bereavement

Gerontology minors also must take elective courses from the following list (9.0 credits):

  • Nursing 316: Women, Health, and Health Care
  • Nursing 350: Pathways to Healthy Aging
  • Psychology 229: The Adult Years
  • Sociology 210: Sociology of the Family
  • Social Work 306: Social Work & Aging

Course Descriptions

GERT 100: 3 s.h.

Introduction to Gerontology (G3)

An introduction to the field of aging and examination of the physiological, sociological, psychological and economic perspectives. This course also focuses on problems of the aged at levels of self, interactions with others and the broader societal context.

GERT 210: 3 s.h.

Aging and the Law (G3, W)

Introduction to legal concepts and thinking. Study of laws, regulations, social policies, and psychological factors that affect delivery of services to the elderly in areas of economic security, employment, health care, wills, metal health, housing, criminal justice, consumer protection.

SOWK 315: 3 s.h.

Grief and Bereavement (D)

Provide a framework for critical analysis of the dynamics of grief and bereavement. Combining a general social systems perspective, an ecological perspective, and the problem-solving approach, this course will assist students to integrate knowledge about grief and bereavement into their knowledge of practice theory and human behavior at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Students will appreciate the diversity of grieving practices and rituals among cultural, religious, and ethnic groups. Bereavement dynamics across the life span are addressed. The impact of death and disaster at the community level will be understood, including assessment tools and intervention strategies.