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Course Title
Certificate in Gerontology


The Certificate in Gerontology represents a specialization in the field of gerontology. It is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of individuals who work with older adults by providing an educational experience that is multidisciplinary in nature.

With the population aging at a rapid rate, the number of individuals over 65 will more than double by 2020. The demand for knowledgeable providers to meet the needs of this population is dramatically increasing, new jobs are being developed, and new services created. Health professionals who work with the older population will need continuing professional education to gain a broad understanding of the field of gerontology and to stay current with emerging trends.


  • Identify the physiologic changes of aging
  • Describe obstacles to health care for older adults
  • Identify types of complementary and alternative health care methods that may benefit the older adult
  • Understand the factors related to mental health promotion and wellness
  • Identify key characteristics of common sleep disorders


Lesson 1 - Introduction to Gerontology

1. Describe major characteristics and demographics of older adults.

2. Discuss changing social views on aging.

3. Define terms such as ageism, myth, stereotype, attitude, prejudice, and discrimination.

4. Describe the major stereotypes that reflect negative prejudice and result in discrimination toward older adults.

5. Describe obstacles to health care for older adults as a result of negative attitudes of health care professionals.

6. Describe strategies to reduce ageism.

7. Identify and discuss theories of aging.

8. Describe the factors related to mental health and aging.

9. Describe the dimensions of wellness in the older adult.

10. Identify risk factors for malnutrition in the older adult.

11. List the benefits of physical activity for the older adult.

12. Identify important screening tests and immunizations for older adults.

13. Examine types of complementary and alternative health care methods that may benefit the older adult.

Lesson 2 - Physiology of Aging

1. Define aging and describe the changing perception of aging in the United States.

2. Describe elements of an effective health care assessment of the aging adult.

3. State the physiologic changes of aging related to the cardiovascular system.

4. State the physiologic changes of aging related to the endocrine system.

5. State the physiologic changes of aging related to the gastrointestinal system.

6. State the physiologic changes of aging related to the immune system.

7. Describe the physiologic changes of aging related to the integumentary system.

8. State the physiologic changes of aging related to the musculoskeletal system and describe how physical activity affects these changes.

9. State the physiologic changes of aging related to the nervous system and the reproductive system.

10. State the physiologic changes of aging related to the respiratory, sensory, and urinary systems.

Lesson 3 - Mental Health and Aging

1. Describe the factors related to mental health promotion and wellness.

2. Identify and describe the five most common mental health and emotional disorders and the current forms of intervention and/or treatment.

3. Discuss the provision of culturally competent mental health care.

4. Explore cultural factors that influence mental health in the older adult.

5. Examine the ways that animal-assisted therapy can affect mental health.

6. Examine complementary and alternative medicine intervention and treatment methods for the elderly.

7. Evaluate the extent of mental health resources and supportive services available in the care of older adults.

8. Describe trends in mental health treatment and care of older adults.

Lesson 4 - Healthy Aging

1. Describe the demographics of the diverse, aging population.

2. Compare the differences and similarities of health profiles of four groups of ethnic elderly populations.

3. Describe examples of complementary and alternative therapies used by the older adult.

4. Discuss nutritional concerns for the elderly.

5. Examine the benefits of physical activity and healthy aging.

6. List risk factors and prevention strategies for falls by the elderly.

7. Identify sleep concerns of the older adult.

8. Discuss the effects of aging on sexuality.

9. Describe the positive effects of social activity on aging.

10. Examine the influence of religion and spirituality on the lives of older adults.

Lesson 5 - Pain Assessment and Management in the Older Adult

1. Define pain.

2. Describe how pain impacts the aging adult.

3. State common misconceptions and facts about pain.

4. Explain the physiology of pain.

5. Identify the four types of pain.

6. Describe pain behaviors.

7. Explain the impact of culture on expressions of pain and on pain management.

8. Identify the key elements of pain assessment.

9. Describe barriers to effective pain management.

10. Describe key elements of the pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic management of pain.

Lesson 6 - Death and Dying

1. Describe the grieving process.

2. Identify psychological responses, physical symptoms, social changes, and spiritual aspects of normal grief responses.

3. Describe the role of cultural and ethnic traditions in the grieving process.

4. Explain the psychologic, spiritual, social, and physical aspects of the process of dying for older adults.

5. Explain the purpose of advance directives.

6. Define and describe palliative care.

7. Identify and describe aspects of hospice care.

8. Differentiate between hospice and palliative care.

9. List the advantages and disadvantages of dying at home.

10. List interactions and healing strategies for the dying.

11. Describe the use of the senses in rituals for the dying.

12. Examine spiritual dimensions of death and dying.

Lesson 7 - Sleep and Aging

1. Define sleep and describe the characteristics of sleep.

2. Compare REM and NREM stages of sleep.

3. Describe common sleep measurement tools.

4. Identify key characteristics of common sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea, circadian rhythm disorders, narcolepsy, periodic limb movements disorder, restless leg syndrome, and parasomnias.

5. Describe sleep changes that occur in the aging population.

6. Identify conditions that can shorten, interrupt, or delay sleep in the elderly.

7. Explain the impact of diet on sleep patterns in the elderly.

8. Identify sleep hygiene practices that may help aging clients sleep effectively.

9. Describe common treatments for sleep disorders.

Lesson 8 - The Older Woman

1. Describe the demographic trends specific to the older woman.

2. Describe the unique characteristics of centenarians.

3. Examine the specific economic concerns of older women.

4. Explain the specific health care issues of older women.

5. Identify the challenges women face as caregivers.

6. Identify social concerns of older women.

7. Describe the special health considerations of older women.

Lesson 9 - Elder Abuse

1. Describe the prevalence of elder abuse in the United States.

2. Define elder abuse.

3. Describe the three categories of elder abuse.

4. Describe the six types of elder abuse, including the signs and symptoms of each type.

5. State the health care provider's responsibility for assessing, documenting, and reporting suspected cases of elder abuse.

6. State the professional and legal issues relevant to the health care provider and elder abuse.

7. Describe actions that can be taken to prevent elder abuse.

Lesson 10 - Aging & Disorders of Communication

1. Describe disorders of vocal abuse and misuse.

2. Describe symptoms of vocal cord paralysis.

3. Describe a common fluency problem.

4. State the two main types of aphasias.

5. Differentiate between Wernicke's aphasia, anomic aphasia, Broca's aphasia, and global aphasia.

6. List ways for family members to communicate effectively with the aphasic individual.

7. Describe the process of hearing.

8. Identify causes of hearing loss.

9. Describe types of hearing loss.

10. Describe other causes of communication disorders, including traumatic brain injuries, cerebrovascular accidents, and environmental injuries due to noise.

11. Examine several types of effective interventions used for individuals with communication disorders, including augmentation and alternative communication, sign language, assistive listening devices, cochlear implants, and adult aural rehabilitation.

12. State the role of the health care provider in the detection and prevention of communication disorders.

Lesson 11- Alzheimer's Disease: Mysteries and Possibilities

1. Describe the incidence and impact of Alzheimer's disease on national and global health.

2. Identify the key milestones in the history of Alzheimer's disease.

3. Explain the aspects of brain anatomy and physiology as it relates to Alzheimer's disease.

4. Differentiate between normal brain changes that occur with aging and those changes associated with Alzheimer's disease.

5. Explain the causes of Alzheimer's disease.

6. State the effects of Alzheimer's disease on the various areas of the brain.

7. Identify risk factors associated with Alzheimer's disease.

8. Explain the stages of Alzheimer's disease.

9. Differentiate between Alzheimer's disease and depression.

10. Identify characteristics of common types of dementia.

11. Explain key methods used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease.

12. Describe basic elements of care for the person with Alzheimer's disease.

13. Explain methods to effectively manage behavior in individuals with Alzheimer's disease.

14. Identify possible integrative therapies that may affect the development of or behaviors associated with Alzheimer's disease.

15. Identify caregiver issues related to Alzheimer's disease.

16. Describe possible stress management options for caregivers.

17. State the current research initiatives and findings in Alzheimer's disease.

This certificate is relevant for registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed vocational nurses, practical nurses, nursing assistants, social workers, occupational therapists, recreation therapists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, administrators, psychologists, personal care assistants, volunteers, physicians, chiropractors, clergy, physical fitness professionals, adult children of aging parents, or any other individual currently working with or planning to work with older adults.

Note: All healthcare providers are responsible for checking the "Accreditation" list to determine if this course awards contact hours for their profession.

Method of Instruction



Class participation