UPDATE ~ Fundamentals of Gerontology Certificate Program ~ USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology

Hi Readers, are you considering adding to your toolkit?  Many people who work in the field of aging have lots of practical knowledge and field experience but no formal training in gerontology.  We are facing a crisis because the older population has exploded and we need trained workers!  This certificate program addresses that gap.  Earning a gerontology certificate is appropriate for anyone in the helping professions, nurses, first responders, counselors, agency personnel, hospitality workers, realtors, merchants and small business owners, and anyone considering a career in aging. 

This affordable, credible certificate provides an opportunity for practitioners to learn the fundamentals of aging in a convenient, online format.  These courses are presented by distinguished professors at USC.  The Davis School of Gerontology has a sterling reputation and is recognized globally as the leading academic institute for aging studies. 

This five-week certificate program costs $500 and is open ONLY to members of the American Society on Aging [ASA].  Even if you must join ASA to enroll, it is still an amazing bargain.  All of the information below was copied from their website.  I am really excited about this program and  I hope you will take a few minutes to review it.  Agedoc.

UPDATE 9/28/17

I have noticed that this is one of the most read postings in the blog.  Course offerings for 2017 are now closed.  Check back for 2018 course sessions, but do not delay if you are considering this outstanding opportunity.  Here is some updated information from ASA: 

Click below if you want to receive information once it is available:

Fundamentals of Gerontology Certificate Program
Offered by the American Society on Aging and the
USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology

Cost of program $500

"As our society continues to age rapidly, Fundamentals of Gerontology: What Every ASA Member Should Know provides both a broad overview and a deeper understanding of gerontology and the challenges faced by aging adults, their families, and their communities. With nuanced coverage of aging topics presented by our USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology faculty members, the program provides ASA members direct access to state-of-the-art, evidence-based knowledge from top experts at the oldest and largest school of gerontology in the world." -Pinchas Cohen M.D., Dean of the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology

The University of Southern California is home to the oldest and largest school of gerontology in the world—the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. ASA and USC have joined forces to offer an opportunity—exclusively available to ASA members—to earn a certificate of completion from USC in a convenient and flexible online format.

Over the course of five weeks, USC faculty will take you through the fundamental concepts of gerontology and provide practical and theoretical perspectives to help you gain a broader understanding of the field. 

This program is available exclusively to ASA members. If you are not a member of ASA, and would like to register for Fundamentals of Gerontology, the website is http://www.asaging.org/

Individual Student Membership = $75

Individual Professional Membership = $225

Individual Retired Membership = $115

To join, click “Membership” on the website.

Certificate Syllabus:

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 lectures, readings and activities will take three to five hours to complete. Participants must pass a weekly quiz with a score of 80% to earn the certificate of completion.

Week 1

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


In this thought provoking introduction to gerontology we will review the most relevant challenges we face as an aging society. In the first half of this week we will:

1.      Become familiar with some of the key scientists influencing our understanding of the aging process;

2.      Understand how integrating the sciences of biology, psychology, sociology, and economics can lead to a broader understanding of the aging process;

3.      See how our understanding of aging has evolved over the decades and in recent years;

4.      Understand the context in which our society view aging and how that may evolve as the baby boom generation redefines aging; and

5.      See the issues of caregiving, case management, chronic disease self-management, home modification, long term care regulations, the range of policy programs designed to support an aging society, the range of entrepreneurial ventures that are filling in the gap between needs and demands.

Part II. Aging by the Numbers: Demographic Trends, Projections, and Census Data Exercises


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:

1.      Become more familiar with the major statistics that describe the size and growth of the older population;

2.      Understand how diversity and specific subgroups of the population are distributed and concentrated in specific areas, and be able to project likely trends in the future;

3.      Understand the functional health issues faced at certain ages, the chronic disease levels and needs associated;

4.      Learn to use census data from the American Community Survey to understand local population characteristics, housing and economic infrastructure currently available to serve the needs of local older adults;

5.      Understand life expectancy and life span in detail, and why claims of extreme longevity are unlikely;

6.      Understand the role of genetics in super centenarians;

7.      Identify blue zone concentrations of longevity and understand the likely reasons for these observations.

In addition to watching a video lecture and completing our reading assignments we will participate in the following interactive exercise: Use Census Data Assignment Template (online) to generate population pyramids and projections of your local area.

Week 2

Theories in the Sociology of Aging Societies

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:


1.      Understand how scientific theories are developed, tested, and the limits of macro level theory in understanding micro level interactions;

2.      Appreciate the importance of theory in adding cumulative knowledge within a field and the elements of what makes a good theory;

3.      Be familiar with the historical development of theory in Gerontology;

4.      Be familiar with the major theories sociologists and economists have developed to describe societal beliefs and interactions related to older adults and the aging of the population;

5.      To apply major theories to real world situations. Among the theories are: Socioemotional Selectivity theory, Disengagement theory, Activity Theory, Continuity Theory, Subculture theory, Exchange theory, Modernization Theory, Age Stratification Theory; Political Economy Theory, Cumulative Advantage/Disadvantage, and the Life Course Perspective; and

6.      Understand Intergenerational exchange and filial piety.

In addition to watching our video lecture we will engage in an interactive quiz that reinforces these theories.

Week 3

Psychological Perspective of Aging: Cognitive Changes, Personality and Mental Health

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.


This week we will turn to the individual and explore the psychological aspects of aging. At the end of this lesson you will be able to:

1.      Understand the major theories that explain how our perspective changes with aging, including: Selective Optimization with Compensation Theory and Socio-Emotional Selectivity Theory.

2.      See the value and limitations of the popular concept of “Successful Aging;”

3.      Understand intelligence and wisdom, and how recent research is changing our views on wisdom and creativity at older ages;

4.      Understand recent advances in research on memory, and how emotion influences memory differently as we age;

5.      Understand how cognitive reserve explains observations about who is at the highest risk of Alzheimer’s Disease;

6.      Understand how “Neuro-Economics” is changing our perceptions about decision making at older ages;

7.      Be familiar with personality theories, and how personality is affected by aging;

8.      Understand how depression and anxiety change as we age;

9.      Appreciate the importance of caregiver support and the range of evidence-based programs that can support caregivers’ unique emotional demands.

In addition to our video based lecture this week we will participate in an interactive game that stresses the importance of mental health care throughout the lifespan.

Week 4

Biology & Biomarkers of Aging and Key Diseases Associated with Aging

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.


This week we will learn about diseases often associated with aging such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and stroke. We will also have a chance to learn a little bit about the biological aspects of aging and by the end of this week we will be able to:

1.      Understand how biological aging and senescence differs across species, and some of the factors that slow aging in model organisms (though not in humans);

2.      Learn about biomarkers of aging that may be useful in predicting diseases (such as the 10 lipids that predict Alzheimer’s), and understanding the rate at which an individual is exposed to increased risk of diseases associated with aging;

3.      Know the major biomarkers used in human aging research studies;

4.      Understand how stress response hormones can accelerate aging;

5.      Know some of the major biological theories of aging including the Wear and Tear Theory; Autoimmune Theory, Cross Linkage Theory, Free Radical Theory, Antagonistic Pleiotropy, and the Microbiome Perspective;

6.      Understand how the body’s composition changes with age;

7.      Understand how inflammation links most of the chronic diseases of aging.

In addition to our video lecture we will participate in an interactive game that helps us review and memorize these concepts.

Week 5

Policy and Programs Affecting Older Americans

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.


This week we will learn about the major policies that affect older Americans. We will learn about the history of major pieces of legislation and familiarize ourselves with the ongoing policy debates related to social security and retirement planning. As we conclude the final week of this program we will be able to:

1.      Describe the economic status of older adults, and the proportion in each age group capable of paying for medical services out of pocket;

2.      Understand the financial condition of Medicare and Medicaid, how the Affordable Care Act changed these programs, and likely future directions of these policies;

3.      Understand Medicaid waiver programs that hint at the face of future long term care policies;

4.      Understand how recent policy changes in Medicare and Medicaid likely to affect service providers;

5.      Identify the opportunities for Gerontologists as policy advocates using evidence-based knowledge.

In addition to our video lecture we will take an interactive quiz that helps us differentiate the many pieces of legislation and policies that affect older adults.

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