The course description, below, details what will be covered during the five-week online course. Supplemental readings will help to enhance your understanding of the five modules. Each week’s recorded lectures, readings and activities will take approximately 2-3 hours to complete. Participants must pass a weekly quiz with a score of 80% or higher and complete a final course evaluation to earn the certificate of completion. Click here to download a PDF of this course description
The purpose of week one is to introduce students to the key contributions of Gerontology research to our knowledge of aging, the meaning of age, and issues affecting those who reach advanced ages. Further, we train you how to use Census data to understand the population characteristics in your local area, and offer a tool to project how population aging will affect your local community. There is an emphasis on getting to know academic leaders, moments of paradigm shift in our understanding of aging, and information on how academic ideas can apply to real world application affecting caregivers, case managers, program administrators, those involved in regulations, and those looking for new approaches to long term care issues.
Part I. Introduction: Why Study Aging? Multidisciplinary Views of Key Questions in Gerontology
Pinchas Cohen, M.D.
Dean, USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
Aaron Hagedorn, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Gerontology
Part II. Aging by the Numbers: Demographic Trends, Projections, and Census Data Exercises
Eileen Crimmins, Ph.D.
AARP Professor of Gerontology & University Professor
In the second half of week one, we will review the phenomena of the aging of our population. At no other time in the world’s history have we experienced the sheer numbers of older adults living today and the expectations that a large majority of Americans will live longer than we have previously experienced. This has profound implications and in this section we will:
Theories in the Sociology of Aging Societies
George Shannon. Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Gerontology
The purpose of week 2 is to set the scientific mindset for the rest of the course, focusing on how social scientists build knowledge and understanding through theory development and testing, and introduce the evolution of theoretical thought from a social science perspective. The major issues affecting an aging society are addressed, including how theoretical perspectives predict how society may change as larger numbers of people are classified in older age groups. The life course perspective, and the implications of early life events in affecting later life decisions are addressed, as are cultural differences in intergenerational exchanges. This week we will take a deeper dive into some of the fundamental theories of the sociology of aging. Understanding these constructs will help you put a framework on much of the information you will learn in this course and in the future. When you have completed this week’s assignments you will:
Psychological Perspective of Aging: Cognitive Changes, Personality and Mental Health
Cleopatra Abdou, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Gerontology and Psychology
Julie Bates, B.A., M.S.G.
Associate State Director, AARP
The purpose of week 3 is to develop an understanding of how our minds and personalities cope with the aging process and the changes we may experience. Major developments in the psychology of aging are discussed, with an emphasis on issues of memory, wisdom, creativity, decision making, depression, and caregiver support needs. Major theories and research findings will be presented that explain why some people are on a path to “successful aging,”(a topic which will be defined and described) while others are at risk of rapid decline. Models of coping and support applications based on theory will be presented.
Biology & Biomarkers of Aging and Key Diseases Associated with Aging
Edward Schneider, M.D.
Dean Emeritus and Professor of Gerontology and Medicine
The purpose of week 4 is to educate participants on some of the new perspectives about how we measure health, and how our understanding of the biology of aging is rapidly evolving into a more integrative approach of gene environment interactions, and more individualized understanding of the microbiome that makes our bodies truly unique and respond differently to diet, drugs, and exercise. Recent findings about major chronic disease diagnosis and how diseases are linked through similar inflammatory pathways will be explained. The major theories and explanations for biological aging will be explained and evaluated.
Policy and Programs Affecting Older Americans
Jon Pynoos, Ph.D.
UPS Foundation Professor of Gerontology, Policy and Planning
The purpose of week 5 is to explore the range of existing regulations that are shaping the range of medical and social services available to older adults, and explore new evidence-based programs that are likely to influence future policy. Existing Medicaid Waiver programs will be described, and specific policies that are having an impact of service providers will be described, as well as opportunities to lobby at the state and federal level for policy changes that could benefit older adults in a cost-effective way. The changing role of Medicare and Medicaid Managed Care will be described, with examples of how these programs are applying concepts from Gerontology to modify the way health and social services are implemented.