Students interested in gerontology, or the study of aging, have several diverse options to choose from in Canada.
In Calgary, for example, Mount Royal University offers an online studies in aging certificate.
“It’s a holistic program in that we look at the physical, social, psychological, and spiritual aspects of aging,” says Marianne Rogerson, the program’s co-ordinator. “Because we have an aging population, almost every career out there has older adults as part of their client base.”
For example, Rogerson says, “there’s a growing interest in eco-tourism, and a number of individuals interested in eco-tourism happen to be older.
“So if you have a business owner or program provider who understands that someone who is 75 has different needs than someone who is 25, they’re more likely to provide the services your clientele is looking for.”
Students have come from a variety of backgrounds, including kinesiology, social work, recreation and nursing.
“It’s designed for individuals who already have a degree or diploma or considerable experience working with older adults,” Rogerson says.
On an administrative level, Toronto’s George Brown college offers the two-year activation co-ordinator/gerontology diploma.
Activation co-ordinators “assess, plan, design and evaluate all of the recreation and activation programs within a long-term care facility,” says Anne-Marie Stoneburgh, the program’s co-ordinator. Students are trained to “design and deliver meaningful physical and mental activities with a therapeutic nature.”
First-year students are placed in long-term care facilities, Stoneburgh says, while second-year students are placed in community centres, day centres, and retirement residences.
“They’re in placement two days a week, and three days in class,” says Stoneburgh. “We also have a block placement, so students spend two weeks in placement in the fall, and again in the winter.”
Students are also given the opportunity to transfer to Sudbury’s Laurentian University for one year, to complete a bachelor’s degree in gerontology.
“It’s a neat way to go to school,” says Stoneburgh. “You integrate your theory and practice at the same time, so you really graduate knowing that this is what you want to do.”
For more on Mount Royal University’s studies in aging certificate, visit mtroyal.ca. For more on George Brown’s activation co-ordinator/gerontology diploma, visit georgebrown.ca.