Preparing the Workforce for an Aging Nation

July 17, 2023

By now, I am sure everyone has heard about the statistics regarding an Aging Nation.  For example, in 2030, 1 in 5 people in the United States will be 65 years and older, and by 2034, individuals 65 years and older will outnumber youth under the age of 18.  Although we have predicted this demographic shift for many years, has society begun to prepare the workforce accordingly? Do employees in various industries, government agencies, non-profits, or community-based services know how to interact with older adults? Do businesses know the proper terminology when talking about older adults or language usage in marketing materials? Can employees continue to address older adults as “honey” or “dear?”  Is ageism (prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s age) discussed at new-employee orientation or during the annual discrimination training?

The simple answer to the above questions is – no or probably not! Although some industries do provide on-the-job training for their employees working with older adults, the common belief is that commercial businesses are not ready for an Aging Nation. More so, only 9% of post-secondary education institutions across the U.S. offer aging programs. What does this say about preparing the workforce for an Aging Nation?

Fortunately, the Psychology Department at the University of Arizona is at the forefront of change! We have created two separate, fully online certificate programs (Insights into Healthy Aging) for enrolled undergraduate students as well as for community professionals. The goal of these programs is to prepare the workforce for an Aging Nation. We educate students and professionals on the value of aging, debunk myths about aging, understand healthy aging vs. pathological aging, legal aspects associated with aging, mental health and mental wellness, as well as relationships in aging.  

There is much to unpack as we discuss preparing the workforce for an Aging Nation. However, for this brief article, I have included a preview of a few topics discussed in the certificate programs:

  • Employers focus trainings on racism, sexism, heterosexism, or even classism.  We must add ageism to all employee trainings.
  • For the first time ever, we have 5 generations in the workplace.  We discuss the various needs, wants, and expectations of the multi-generational workplace.
  • We educate individuals in the proper way to address older adults.  American Psychological Association (APA) reports we are to use the terms – older adults, older people, and persons 65 years and older, or the older population.  Refrain from using terms such as the elderly, the aged, and senior citizens. You can read more about biased-free language at Inclusive Language Guidelines.
  • The impacts of family caregiving and self-care for the caregiver. For more information on caregiving, you can review - Caregiving in the U.S. 2020.

Along with the two certificates mentioned above, the University of Arizona also offers a Master’s degree and a graduate certificate in aging. Together, I am confident we will prepare the workforce for an Aging Nation.

For more information on the certificate programs - check out

Please reach out if you have any questions

Linda Hollis, PhD

Assistant Professor of Practice

Coordinator, Healthy Aging Certificate Programs

College of Science | Department of Psychology