Aging and Demographic Shifts in Society
Much of the developed world is facing a similar challenge due to shifting demographics. After World War II the developed regions of the world had experienced severe devastation and/or loss of life. In those areas such as Europe, the US and Japan the surviving population responded by having a tremendous amount of offspring. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the Baby Boom. In developed regions of the world the Baby Boom generation came to dominate their respective areas upon entering adulthood. As the Baby Boomers had significantly less children on average than their parents, in the case of Japan massively less, this created a demographic imbalance that has created an aging population in most of the world’s developed regions. This creates problems in a variety of ways. As most of the developed nations have social safety net and public retirement accounts and securities such as Social Security in the USA, the tax revenues to fund these programs are under strain as the baby boom generation ages and begins to draw on these benefits. In addition to government programs costing considerably more as the amount of payers into the system reverses and payees come to outnumber those paying into the system, there is also the critical matter of caring for an aging population. These changes and many more have created a sort of Human Services crisis where a new approach and vision will be required to navigate these far reaching societal changes.
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As the saying goes “In every crisis there is also opportunity”, this is very true for Human Services professionals who are primed to start to interact with the aging baby boom generation. For example, the amount of workers required to process benefits for the elderly is set to soar. Even more importantly, medical services for the aging and elderly will be the recipients of massively increased demand. So while society as a whole will struggle to adapt to changes brought about by Baby Boomers retiring, many Human Services agencies both public and private will grow tremendously in response to this demographic shift. Another area that is set to see tremendous growth is that of Gerontology. This umbrella term literally means the study of aging, but in most cases practically means providing care for the elderly. Providing long term care for an aging population will be a Human Service that sees a massive increase in demand in the next 10 to 20 years as Baby Boomers begin to retire en masse and eventually reach an age where health dictates that they receive long term care.
Some examples of job titles that will see a significant boost in employment opportunities will include:
- Eligibility Worker
- Aging and Disability Case Worker
- Gerontology Nurse
- Registered Nurse
- Certified Nursing Assistant
- Long-Term Care Provider
- Social Security Benefits Analyst
There are a variety of routes one can take to join the workforce and help to provide society with the necessary workers to adapt to this monumental demographic shift. Getting a Masters of Gerontology is one excellent route as you will be able to plug in to many different careers that will provide services to an aging population. Getting a nursing certificate or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing will provide one with the education to become licensed as a Registered Nurse although other licensure requirements will also need to be fulfilled. Getting a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work or Sociology will provide one with the necessary educational background to begin a career as an Eligibility Worker or an Aging and Disability Case Worker. There are many potential paths one can take in terms of education in order to join the workforce and help society shift to the Human Services realities caused by an Aging America.