Graduate School of Gerontology

M.A. in Gerontology

In this program we take a multidisciplinary approach to studies of the elderly, the aging process, and various social issues that arise from a graying society. The fields we bring to bear on these subjects include medicine, nursing, caregiving, rehabilitation, public health, sociology, and welfare.

Ph.D. in Gerontology

Our doctoral students take an interdisciplinary approach to gerontology, one that embraces medicine, public health, sociology, psychology, social welfare, and policy studies. Research topics of current students cover a broad range, including intergenerational relations and the burdens of caregiving.

Course Descriptions

Gerontology, which deals with issues concerning older people and aging, is an interdisciplinary field that involves medicine, health sciences, health promotion, psychology, sociology, and social work. In studying gerontology, we will first aim for students to gain basic knowledge of these various disciplines as a preparation for interdisciplinary research work. We have therefore designed an omnibus course taught by a team of lecturers with expertise in each of the above fields. Additionally, students will learn basic knowledge relating to the aging of society, including demographic trends and their mechanisms.

Geriatrics is a subset of medical science that focuses on the prevention, clinical treatment, and care of senescence and disease in old age. It has both a practical component, focused on primary care of the elderly, and an academic component, focused on interdisciplinary research on senescence, clinical treatment, and diseases in old age. Students must therefore acquire a broad perspective and profound knowledge of aging, diseases, and care. In class, we will make use of handouts as well as visual aids such as videos and images. The instructor plans to take advantage of students’ varied professional backgrounds by exposing them not just to lectures, but also to readings in the domestic and international literature, measurements of physical health indices, questions and answer sessions, and discussions in order to deepen their understanding of geriatric medicine.

This class is intended to enable students to understand the fundamental themes in the field of gerontological psychology based on the findings of empirical research studies. Students will gain an understanding of psychological characteristics of the elderly and age-related changes in basic psychological functions such as sense/perception, memory, intelligence, emotion, and desire, as well as discuss the development of personality from a life-span developmental perspective. We will also discuss social relations such as social networks and social support. The class will consist of lectures, presentations by students on topics of interest based on literature review, and discussions.

In addition to gaining a theoretical understanding of social welfare for older people, students will learn about its embodiment in the form of welfare programs and support systems for older people. Regarding support systems, we will learn about individualized care management, community support networks, and the relationship between them in order to understand methods of social work. We will also discuss the relationship of these methods of support to social welfare systems for older people.

Students will learn sociological approaches, basic perspectives, and results and issues of research on problems of individual aging and the aging of society. In particular, the following issues will be discussed: (1) as challenges faced at an individual level, informal social relationships with family and friends, as well as contributions to society through employment and volunteer work; (2) as challenges concerning the livelihood of older people, issues of income, healthcare, the welfare system, and social capital; and (3) as challenges faced by society, issues of ageism and health inequality.

The health promotion strategy proposed by WHO (the World Health Organization) states that (1) it is important for people to work toward a healthy lifestyle, (2) and therefore, it is necessary to change individuals’ environments in order to facilitate health. In this class, students will learn the principles of health promotion and deepen their understanding of the models and evaluation methods useful for developing lifestyles and the health promotion methods needed to improve the health and quality of life (QOL) of older people.

In this class we will learn basic knowledge of issues concerning the physical and mental well-being of older people. We will also consider ways to maintain and promote the health of older people based on research findings and reports on relevant activities. Further, in addition to imparting textbook knowledge, I will also introduce actual research projects, research methods, and findings. Students may also have opportunities to present reports on their own studies or listen to guest lectures.

Students will learn the theories and analytical frameworks of research on the elderly and their families (family systems theory, normative family theory, life course theory, social support and network theory, etc.) as well as the results of such studies. Based on this knowledge, we will attempt to understand: (1) the process by which the role of family functioning for older people has diminished gradually in the postwar period and (2) contemporary issues (e.g., the problem of older individuals requiring nursing care living by themselves). Furthermore, we will discuss what kind of arrangements (e.g., an adult guardianship system) are necessary in order to solve ongoing and future problems.

This class aims to deepen students’ understanding of the empirical research methodology used in gerontology. There will be lectures on how to proceed with research, how to apprehend phenomena, research project planning, concepts and methodology of experiment and research, and fundamental concepts of the analytical method. I will also discuss the writing of research papers, methods of presentation, research ethics, and ethics committee screening. In addition to lectures, the course will also feature in-class exercises.

The goal of these lectures is to enable even those unfamiliar with statistics to master them in practice. Therefore, instead of providing abstract descriptions of statistical formulas, this class will help students master the knowledge and concepts of statistics while aggregating data from actual studies. We will also place more emphasis on understanding the meaning of numerical values rather than on how to calculate them statistically. The widely-used SPSS software will be utilized as a method for calculating statistical values.

Through concrete exercises, students will gain the ability to perform the following steps in information processing: collecting information from appropriate sources, generating and processing data, aggregation and analysis of data using statistical means, organizing summaries and issues, and reporting/returning study results to the participants and society. Today, the use of computers is indispensable in the process of information processing—information gathering, data processing, and writing papers. Therefore, the goal of this seminar is for students to master the minimum hardware and software skills necessary to carry out research.

Students will read articles published in academic journals related to gerontology and participate in discussions in class. In particular, students will deepen their understanding of the research methods and analytical methods used in these published papers and gain competence in reading comprehension of analytical results, including tables and figures.

The purpose of this seminar is to examine research studies in the field of gerontological psychology based on the literature and practical exercises. We will examine both basic and applied research in detail, taking into account the topics of students’ Master’s theses. In addition, we will conduct practical exercises related to literature review, formulation of research objectives, questions, and hypotheses, choice of methodology and analytical tools, ethical considerations, formulation of written discussions, and points to keep in mind when writing research papers.

The purpose of this seminar is to have each student master research methodology by actually carrying out library research on topics related to gerontological sociology. Topics will be decided in consultation with students. In each class, students will report on their progress and the challenges they face, which will provide the basis for in-class discussion.

In this class, we will select a wide variety of Japanese and non-Japanese literature ranging from basic to applied from the interdisciplinary field of gerontology, carefully reading and discussing them in class. In addition to reading literature on topics of interest to students, we will also study some of the fundamental works of gerontological scholarship.

In this practicum, the object is for students to master the knowledge and methodology necessary to conduct research on gerontology. Students will have opportunities to experience empirical research in the fields of psychology and social science through materials provided by the instructor, analysis of data collected by students, and planning of research projects. This academic year, the practicum will focus on the methodology of formulating research plans based on literature and of conducting interviews.

This class first seeks to provide students with an understanding of the background of the recent growing interest in the research methods collectively referred to as qualitative research; it also surveys the principal methods of qualitative research. We will then embark on an in-depth study of M-GTA (Modified Grounded Theory Approach), which is of wide interest in the field of human services. The objective is for students to be able to judge which qualitative research methods are best suited for their own research projects and to understand and make actual use of M-GTA. This class will be in a seminar format, combining lectures, study of literature, and training in data analysis. Throughout, emphasis will be placed on participation in discussions.

In this class, students gain a broad, deep understanding of care for older people. Specifically, students will learn about principles of care, conditions requiring care, and realities of care while attempting to organize their knowledge theoretically. The ultimate objective is to develop an organized way of thinking about care. Students are expected to read the assigned textbooks in advance and discuss the content and state their opinions in class. The textbook is Yoshinori Hiroi’s Keagaku: Ekkyō suru kea e (Care studies: Towards Care Across Borders); Masakazu Shirasawa’s “Kaigo hoken seido” no aru beki sugata (『「介護保険制度」のあるべき姿』 (Ideal state of the nursing-care insurance system)” as a reference book.

This class will take up various issues concerning the aging of society from the perspective of social policy. First, I will explain why demographic aging has occurred. Second, we will discuss representative systems of support for our aging society, including public pensions, medical security, and nursing care. These are all large redistribution systems whose future sustainability is in question. However, since our economic structure is currently changing over to a service economy, demographic aging can actually serve as an engine of economic growth. That is because an aging society is at the same time a leisure society. By clarifying that logic, I want to elucidate how in the twenty-first century we will move toward a historically new “Monadic Society.”

Although life and death are eternal themes for humans, the academic study of such topics is a relatively recent development. In this class, we will think about how to live by studying various issues related to death including views of life and death, death and culture, bioethics, organ transplantation, death with dignity, living wills, death education, terminal care (end-of-life care), and psychology of death, from the perspective of death and life studies. The goal by the end of the course is for students to be able to form their own opinions by deepening their knowledge and views of ongoing issues regarding death and life in contemporary society and understanding problems of human life and death from diverse perspectives.

For older people, remembering and talking about the old days is not just a matter of repetitive elderly behavior. Reminiscence in old age is an important part of reconfirming one’s self in the final stage of life. We all discover who we are and search for our future direction by looking back at the journey we have taken. In addition, talking about our journey has many psychological effects. The purpose of this class is to think about the psychological significance of reminiscence and, through experience, deepen our understanding of reminiscence in old age. We will also survey research on reminiscence of older people and consider its prospects.

At the beginning of the 1960s, R. N. Butler, an American psychiatrist, first assigned a positive meaning to reminiscence among older people, which had formerly been negatively perceived as an “escape from reality.” Since Butler’s proposal, the use of reminiscence has spread among professionals and volunteers working in the fields of health, medicine, and welfare for the aged without respect for national or ethnic borders. In Japan, too, reminiscence is of broad interest not only to professionals such as nurses, psychologists, social workers, care workers, and rehabilitation care workers, but also to older people themselves, family caregivers, volunteers, and the younger generation. The purpose of this class is for students to achieve a basic understanding of reminiscence and life review and to think about their applications for clinical practice.

Epidemiological research methodology is known as a useful method for conducting scientific investigations in the fields of health and welfare. Moreover, there is more and more demand for evidence-based medicine and health policy, so it is important to learn epidemiological methods. In this class, students are expected to deepen their understanding of the various methods of epidemiological research, their characteristics, and indices for evaluation, and to acquire the ability to apply this understanding to empirical research aimed at analyzing or solving problems in gerontology.

In this class, students will learn about the nursing care insurance system. They will obtain: (1) a general understanding of the system; (2) the ability to compare it with nursing care systems in other countries; (3) an understanding of the system’s pros and cons; and (4) the ability to formulate their own views on how to change it. Students are encouraged to raise their awareness of these issues and increase their motivation to conduct research on them. Each class will consist of lectures followed by discussions.

This class is intended to provide students with a general understanding of care management and to teach them about the unique features of its incorporation into the nursing care insurance system. Students will learn about care management from various perspectives, including the social background, process, and purpose of its emergence; the special characteristics of the nursing care insurance system and issues related to those with disabilities; the care management system and inclusive community care; and care management in other countries. In each class, we will have discussions on selected issues. The goal is to deepen students’ understanding of care management for older people and to improve their practical skills.

The purpose of this class is to obtain a correct understanding of issues in the field of clinical psychogerontology and learn about clinical human relations based on fundamental knowledge of psychogerontology. The class will include discussions on issues related to clinical psychology such as personality and adaptation, dementia, depression, suicide, stress, counseling, case conferences, care reports, and ikigai (reason for living).

The goal of this class is to acquire basic knowledge about the psychiatric issues of older people and cultivate the proper attitude and methodology for studying them. Therefore, the instructor will not only convey textbook knowledge, but also introduce actual studies, research methods, and results. Students may be asked to present the results of their own studies. We will also have lectures by guest speakers.

This class will teach applications of gerontology in contemporary society. Lectures will be on topics such as gerontology and rehabilitation medicine, the area of specialization of each instructor and its relation to and differences from gerontology, and future prospects.