Why Gerontology

At 42 years of age I have finally finished my bachelor’s degree.  When I returned to school three years ago, twenty years had passed since I finished my freshman year.  In that time, I have come to a better understanding of who I am and what I want to do when I “grow up.”  My major in psychology more fully represents my interests and goals than my previous major, while my 3.9 g.p.a. reflects my dedication and intense focus on the subject of psychology. 

It took me a while to narrow down my interests because there is so much to learn about human development and behavior.  I was fascinated by what I was learning about each successive stage of development.  However, it wasn’t until recently that my interests turned to the senior adult population.  A core requirement of my undergraduate degree program is a 125-hour internship, to be completed within one full semester.  While completing my internship at a local senior center, I gained the experience and knowledge to fully grasp my interest and passion for the senior population. 

My internship has afforded me the opportunity to work with a group of seniors who struggle with the beginning stages of dementia and other conditions that affect cognitive function.  This program, known as the Assisted Senior Program (ASP), exists to offer assistance, socialization, and a level of independence for seniors who need support but who do not need daycare or other full-time aid.  ASP also offers respite for the seniors’ caregivers.  Interestingly, working in this internship has lit a spark in me! Consequently, I now have a strong desire to develop ASP programs in multiple locales to support the senior population.

I am excited about the Master of Science in Gerontology offered by St. Joseph’s University, because I feel that this program will afford me the best education and skill enhancement to make my goal of assisting this specific group of seniors a reality.  Not only do ASP clients have unique needs because of their cognitive struggles, but they require unique support as they are not “serious enough” for typical interventions and services that are in place for seniors.  I want to provide the opportunity for these seniors to live a full life that affords them the respect and dignity that is rightfully theirs.  I want to understand what their needs and concerns are and how I can help to meet those needs.

I believe that my passion and my caring and compassionate heart will allow me to offer the care and support that is so desperately needed by seniors who are experiencing the changes that come with cognitive dysfunction.  I want to be knowledgeable about the unique needs of this population, so that I can make a practical difference in their lives as they age.  I want to be able to offer seniors the opportunity and support to live as normal life as possible and maintain their dignity as they adjust to the changes that are beginning to rock their world.

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