How to Get Young People Involved in Aging

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The Missing Piece to Motivate Student Involvement in Aging

(contributed by Carol Marak, SeniorCare.com)

The one industry that’s not running short on jobs is Gerontology and Geriatrics. However, attracting students to study the discipline runs thin. It could be due to lack of geriatrics-trained educators, absence of financial incentive, and weak student demand.

The field holds unique needs of older patients and valued geriatric attention, but the limited exposure to the aging segment serve barriers to improving senior care training. Despite the advocacy aging and senior care receives, the number of providers with specialized training in geriatrics remains disproportionate to the growing population of older adults.

Last fall, SeniorCare.com announced it’s annual Aging Matters Scholarship. Every June, the scholarship will grant college students who either cares for a loved one and demonstrates that “Aging Matters,” works within the senior community, or intends to pursue a career that positively impacts the elder population. “The company enjoyed receiving hundreds of applicants, and we’re excited to see so many young minds filling the need of our aging population,” remarked Shawn Schulze, Seniorcare.com’s co-founder.

This week, the company announced the winner of the Aging Matters Scholarship, Gregory Troutman, who is completing a Master degree in Bioethics and will be starting medical school next year. Since graduating from Lafayette College in May 2013, Gregory worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator in cardiology to gauge whether or not his passions truly lie in healthcare.

Since working in the position, he has decided to follow his interest in cardiology and to work with older adults. Gregory adds, “I have been amazed to see how resilient elderly patients can be when faced with something that initially seems like a horrifying illness. I have enjoyed shadowing physicians who are experts not only in taking patients’ histories and developing treatment plans but making this a two-way conversation where elderly patients can express their values and interests and have an active role in their health-related decisions.”

The industry needs more students like Gregory. So, to learn what the geriatric professionals can do to motivate young students to select this area of study, I asked the Seniorcare.com Aging Council,

“What incentives would you use to get fresh minds involved in the senior care industry?”

The promise of jobs! Also, get young people to volunteer or intern in places which will allow them to interact with older adults–many have no experience engaging with older people since families are often spread out across the country. Donna Schempp, Family Caregiver Alliance.

Create more intergenerational opportunities and volunteer programs. Exposure to older adults is one of the best motivators. It would also be good to work with school counselors, career offices, doing career days, sharing the growing need and opportunities. Shannon Martin, Aging Wisely.

Let’s face it; Gerontology isn’t as sexy as technology – unless it’s technology for helping the aging population. What young person wouldn’t be interested in a high-tech, growing, humanitarian, and healthy compensation industry? The perception has to move to this positioning to get them motivated! Rhonda Harper, Penrose Check-in Services.

Exposure to seniors is imperative. In other cultures, generations live together, and there is an enormous respect for elders. In this country, grandparents can be thousands of miles away. So surrogates, if you will, are needed. Schools need to have inter-generational programs. Long-term facilities need to have inter-generational programs. Exposure is the key. Anthony Cirillo, The Aging Experience.

We need to highlight the fact that there will be jobs galore as the aging industry is a growth industry and will continue to be with 10,000 older adults turning 65 each day for the next 14 years. It is an area that will offer lots of exciting employment opportunities, and creative and non-traditional thinkers will be required. Betsie Sassen, Capitol Consulting, LLC.

People from all disciplines such as finance, medicine, or even fashion can (and should) play a role in the aging industry, creating value for the very last part of life in different ways. It is essential create a habitat that 1) nurtures passion, dedication and talent by setting up a promising career within a traditional market, and 2) inspires the young by passing on life experiences of elders. Jeff So, Rondish Care.

The rapid expansion of technology and person-centered care will increase interest in senior-related businesses. Young people will recognize opportunities in the longevity economy and often bring a sense of social entrepreneurship to foster jobs. Fritzi Gros-Daillon, HouseholdGuardians.com.

The biggest motivator for Millennials today is to be heard. Their creativity and knowledge for the use of technology is unsurpassed. We can attract great talent if students understand the statistics of this growing demographic and what they are facing. It would allow the students to think outside the box and come up with creative ideas. Scot Cheban, Caregiving Answers.

Our industry needs a shake up, and we need fresh minds to help solve our problems and issues. Contributing to offset the cost of education may help garner the interest of young minds. Because of the sheer numbers of aging people, making money, having a career and making a difference in this world are real possibilities, as long as they have a passion to care.Laurie Miller, AppleCareandCompanion.com.

2 thoughts on “How to Get Young People Involved in Aging

  1. Attracting Millennial to Careers in Aging Jason Williams

    Thanks for a great article, Carol!

    As the senior care industry grows larger, financial incentive will naturally propel many young people to the senior care industry, according to Ben Mandelbaum, COO at http://senior-planning.com/. Motivation can also be achieved by presenting the vast field of elder care as a puzzle to be solved or encouraging young people to find solutions to growing problems in the geriatric methods currently used, including issues that will have heavy future impacts on their own generation. Thanks again for bringing awareness to this pertinent topic!

    Jason

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