If you are reading this blog you are most likely in the aging field as a professional or a student. Everyone has their own story how they found gerontology . Yes, I had a really close relationship with my grandparents and still do with my grandmother who is 91! But, in reality I have always been comfortable and connected to older adults. When I was younger I would ride my bike to the local hospital to volunteer as a candy striper. I had the entire hospital to roam but always ended up on the fourth floor which was the geriatric unit. During my high school years I was involved in student council and other organizations and always incorporated volunteering to rack leaves in the fall and bring flowers to the nursing homes on Valentine's Day. When I graduated high school I went to Tompkins Cortland Community College for an associates degree in general studies. I once again joined the student government and incorporated volunteering with the local area agency on aging to spend time with older adults. I remember having a discussion with a professor who suggested applying to the gerontology program at Ithaca College. I had a major light bulb go off in my head!!! I did not even know you could study aging. So I went to Ithaca College with a major in Gerontology and minor in Health Care Administration.
I got to know myself better and realized I was really interested in aging in place, home modifications and products for older adults. I graduated in the middle of the academic year and was not definite if I wanted to get a job or go to graduation school. So, after graduation I took a year off of school and went cross country with my boyfriend (now husband). I had never been very far from the east coast and the trip out west to Steamboat Springs Colorado was a once in a life time opportunity. We lived in a small ski town that did not even have a nursing home. I ended up working as an Office Manager for a real estate office. After a year I had applied and was accepted with a position as a graduate assistant at Miami University Scripps Gerontology Program.
I knew I have an interest in design and aging. However, I did not want to go back to school from scratch in design or architecture school in order to do what I want to do; aging and design. Unlike most of the other programs I looked at making their student more narrowly focused on policy, administration, biology… Miami University Scripps Gerontology Program appealed to me because they allow you to study what interests you and then you relate that to your required courses and reflect your research. During my Master’s years, I was able to further enrich my interests in aging and design and my intellectual and personal development in the area came out as my thesis.
So here I am- I graduated with my MGS (Masters in Gerontological Studies). Some of my cohort decided to continue on for a PhD in Gerontology. I contemplated that option for about half a year but decided that I have more to contribute to community outreach and working directly with older adults than to academia with doing research and teaching.
Before I even graduated I took a job offer that included a training as an AIT (Administrator in Training). This is required to be a nursing home administrator. I should have listened to my heart and not followed the nursing home path but I learned the hard because my passion is to keep people in their homes. So I did not start my work experience immediately but I am on a path now that feels right because I work to keep older adults in their homes and I get great satisfaction from being able to do that. I am currently working as a Case Manager for In Home and Community Based Services for an Area Agency on Aging. I will blog about my day to day responsibilities of being a case manager. I look forward to your questions and comments.