Conference addresses aging issues

As the senior citizen population in the United States continues to grow and the average life expectancy of older adults lengthens, there is a growing concern about issues in gerontology and aging studies such as affordable housing, alternatives to traditional long-term care and planning for a meaningful retirement.

“The 65-plus (year-old) population will double by the year 2030,” said Jennifer Salmon, an assistant professor in the School of Aging Studies and the president of the Gerontology and Aging Studies Alumni Society. “Florida residents over the age of 65 already comprise 17.6 percent of Florida’s population. In response to this reality, we are offering information on how experts in aging can help business, industry and the community respond to this demographic reality.”

In order to promote the exchange of information between students, alumni, local businesses and other organizations, the USF Gerontology and Aging Studies Alumni Society is hosting “Aging Exchange Day: Are You Ready for an Aging Society?” The event will take place during National Careers in Aging Week, which runs from April 5-12.

The function will feature two panel discussions on the potential job market for students graduating with a degree in gerontology and aging studies. The first panel discussion will be, “Tips for Finding Your Niche in the Field of Aging: Lessons from Alumni” and will feature graduates talking to current students about how to find where their personal skills fit in the job market of aging studies.

“It is an opportunity for people who graduated, either with a bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D, to talk about how they found their niche, because when you graduate with a degree in gerontology, you can do a lot of different things with that degree,” Salmon said.

The second panel discussion is titled, “What Employers Need to Know From Aging Studies Experts” and will feature local businesses in the area that are either hiring or would hire people with aging studies expertise. All of the companies will talk to students and alumni about what they are looking for in aging studies students exiting college and looking for a job.

“It’s both to let us know, as faculty and also as students, what skills they need if they are going to come out and try to find jobs in these different areas,” Salmon said.

In addition to the two panel discussions, the event will also host a job fair all day with around 20 companies, research exhibits and a research poster competition. Businesses attending will include small businesses, nursing homes, elderly law attorneys, banks and other jobs that focus on aging studies expertise.

The sponsors for the event are the American Heart Association, Ginger Fitness and Rehab, Inc., John Knox Village and Attorney Tim Moran. John Knox Village will also provide lunch. It will take place April 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be held at the Florida Mental Health Institute Westside Conference Center at USF. The function is free to those who register in advance by calling 974-2916 before March 26.

“We are happy that the community can tell us what they need from the university, and the students and alumni who graduated from the School of Aging Studies can talk to businesses about what their skills are and how they might be able to help those businesses,” Salmon said.