Social gerontology is a field of gerontology that deals with studies into old people and the way factors like race, ethnicity and social classes interact with other economic and social forces in a society. The field of gerontology has grown out of the need for professionals who have knowledge about the aging process. There has been an increase in the global median age because of the decline in global fertility and an increase in longevity in the last century (CDC 101).
Longevity has increased the number of people aged beyond 65 years on a global scale. In the year, 2000, the number of people aged over 65 years stood at 420 million globally, but the number will rise to 973 million by the year 2050. The growth in the number of old adults has increased the pressure and the demand for public amenities, health services and institutions that care for the aged in society. Careers in gerontology have also expanded because of the global rise in the number of the aged population (CDC 102).
The global trend of an increase in the number of aged people in society has also resulted in a demographic shift. The pattern has changed from a pattern characterized by soaring fertility and high mortality rates to a pattern of low incidences of mortality and a drop in fertility rates. The shape of the universal age distribution pattern is also rapidly .The pattern is changing from a pattern characterized by the aged forming the minority group in society to a pattern of almost equal distribution of the aged and the young in the global society (CDC 103).
There has also been a global epidemiological shift because of the global increase in the number of the aged population. There has been a change in leading causes of mortality in society from acute and infectious diseases to degenerative and chronic diseases. These changes are more pronounced in the developed world than in the developing and third world countries