Old School


Masungit. Makulit. Paulit-ulit.These are just some of the words that young people use to describe their grandparents, or older people generally.But truth be told, beyond their wrinkled skin, blurring vision, and hearing problems, older people have a lot to teach the younger ones. They just have to watch and learn.To promote a deeper understanding of the elderly, Miriam College’s Social Science and Family Studies Department has opened a masters in gerontology program.Department chairperson Dr. Victoria Apuan says gerontology is a study of the process of aging and how society regards older person.It’s also about analyzing how society is providing the needs of the elderly and what kind of support should be given to them.Offered by Miriam College three years ago, the course seeks to develop highly trained professionals with a strong, scientific, and multidisciplinary perspective in the field of gerontology. The program has three tracks in Research, Counseling and Elderly Care, and Management of Care Facilities.In the Philippines, Dr. Apuan says, the caring for old people is not much of a problem. “Basically, we want to help older but the demographics are changing. People now only have one or two children. If if the children go abroad, there’s no one left to take care of them.”The department has already been offering Family Studies, focusing on children and the family in general. “But lately, we noticed that the country lacks professionals who can deal with old people, those who understand their needs and can cater to them in a professional way,” Dr. Apuan says.“We want to help professionals who will devote themselves to the study of aging and the provision of social and services to enable older adults deal better with stressors common in later life, such as loss of loved ones, relocation, medical conditions, care-giving demands, change in employment status, and poverty, which significantly affect the health and independence of older adults,” Dr. Apuan adds.Currently, there are five students enrolled in the course—mainly assigned to care facilities, nuns and lay persons. When they become gerontologists, they will be competent enough to address issues on elderly and others in term of research and services, as diverse as family relationships, memory, sexuality, health promotion, and community-based initiatives.GERONTOLOGY IS NOT CAREGIVINGThis is not a care-giving course, Dr. Apuan emphasizes.While the six-month caregiving course delves on the technical aspects like the checking of vital signs, etc, gerontology is about basic theoretical, methodological, and factual content drawn from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

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