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What Are The Career Options For Working With Senior Citizens?

Working With Senior Citizens

Senior citizens can often be more vulnerable members of society, particularly if they live alone or are dealing with mental or physical health problems.

This is why senior care is so important, and it requires individuals that are caring, compassionate, patient, and enjoy spending time with the elder members of society to help deliver top-quality care.

If you have always enjoyed the company of senior citizens and you want to help to make sure that they are living a more comfortable life in their golden years, you might have already thought about a career that allows you to work with them.

There are various paths you can follow, both in care-specific roles and beyond, that could enable you to work with seniors often, so why not give the following suggestions some consideration?

1. Geriatric Nursing

Geriatric nurses work closely with senior citizens to help them live a healthier lifestyle and assist with many healthcare issues that they might be having.

You will need to go to nursing school for this job and have at least a BSN degree or an Associate’s Degree in Nursing from an accredited program.

Then you will need to take the NCLEX-RN examination to become a licensed, registered nurse. Getting as much experience as you can working with elderly patients will also help you eventually move into a geriatric nurse role, and you might want to think about taking further training with a specific focus on this area of healthcare.

Geriatric nurses can work in various establishments, such as hospitals, healthcare clinics, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or even visit patients in their homes.

2. Working for a Charity

If you’re not confident that a healthcare career is a right choice for you, then you could always look at finding employment at a charity that focuses on supporting senior citizens.

You might want to consider volunteering for one or more of these charities first to gain some experience and show that you are committed to their cause. A lot of these organizations arrange for volunteers to visit lonely seniors to provide them with some company or arrange days out.

They might also focus on connecting seniors with the correct services they need, such as healthcare, welfare, and so forth. This can be an excellent career choice for someone who wants to help the senior community feel seen and supported.

3. Memory Care Nurse

This is another healthcare-based role that will require you to go to nursing school to receive the correct qualifications. You will likely have to take further studies with a focus on memory care and conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia to work in this field.

In this role, you will be working closely with patients who do suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia, and other conditions that can impact their memory and cognitive functions.

A lot of patients dealing with these conditions can become confused, irate, and frightened, so it will take a lot of patience and empathy to be able to deal with these situations.

You’ll also be there to help support their loved ones and offer them advice on how they can make your patient feel more comfortable at home, or discuss other care options for them.

As a memory care nurse, you might work in a hospital, memory care facility, or visit patients at home as a few examples of typical working environments.

4. Gerontology Nursing

Gerontology focuses on the impact of aging on a patient, but in this role, you won’t always be working with senior patients.

Although they will be a group that you do work with as a gerontology nurse, your patients will likely be adults from the age of 18 years old.

This could be a good choice for someone interested in nursing and who would like to work with seniors, but not necessarily exclusively.

You will need to get specific qualifications in gerontology if you are interested in pursuing this nursing role, so be prepared to return to your studies after your initial nursing degree. You can find out more about gerontology nursing roles here.

5. Live-in Carer

Another role you could explore if you wanted to work closely with senior citizens is becoming a live-in carer. You won’t have the same responsibilities as a nurse, but you will be trained on how to administer injections properly, as some of the people you work with might need to have daily or regular injections as part of their healthcare plan.

Usually, a nurse will either visit the patient at home, or you may be responsible for taking them to their medical appointments instead.

You’ll also be trained on how to communicate properly with the individual in your care, safe record keeping, risk assessment and management, fire safety, basic life support, and awareness of anemia, as a few examples.

In this role, you will be responsible for the daily care of a senior citizen. This includes tasks such as meal preparation, helping with household chores, grooming, bathing, or whatever assistance the person in your care needs.

Live-in care can be intense, so if you would prefer not to live in the same home as the senior citizen you are caring for, you could become a carer that visits them daily if they can still live somewhat independently, or have another person who will be in the home with them during the night.

6. Personal Trainer

If you happen to also be passionate about exercise, you could look at becoming a personal trainer with a focus on working with senior citizens.

Working out a daily exercise routine or seeing your clients once or twice a week can be an excellent way to help seniors stay fit and healthy.

While you might not be doing as rigorous exercise routines as you might with younger clients, it’s still vital to help seniors keep moving for their overall well-being and to help with issues such as balance, muscle strength, heart health, mental health, too.

Pilates and yoga, in particular, can be good exercises for seniors, swimming, or other low-impact workouts.

You could either visit clients in their homes, work at a gym or community center, or visit senior care homes and run classes there.

Related Resource: How To Improve Your Family’s Mental Health

7. Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapy is there to help those recovering from illness or injury, enabling them to get to a stage where, hopefully, they can live independently again.

As an occupational therapist, you could be working with a variety of age groups, but you might be able to focus more on senior citizens later in your career if this is your preference.

Some of your responsibilities will include monitoring patient progress, carrying out risk assessments to determine what activities and environments will be safe for your patients, helping them with exercises to build their strength, and working closely with other healthcare professionals to ensure that the over well-being of your patients is being cared for properly.

To become an occupational therapist, you will need to get a degree in this discipline or look at entering an apprenticeship program as an alternative. You could work in a hospital setting, healthcare clinics, or even do some home visits to check on the progress of patients as well.

8. Physiotherapist

Another option could be working as a physiotherapist because, in this role, you could often be working with senior citizens and people with disabilities to help them regain strength and become more comfortable.

You will also be working with those who are injured or ill and need assistance with their recovery. In this role, you will be focusing on movement and exercises to help patients build muscles, ease joint pain, and so forth. You might also use massage as part of your therapy to assist with their recovery.

You will need to study for a physiotherapy degree from an accredited program if you are interested in this role, as well as gain work experience during this time, which is often part of your educational course.

9. Social Worker

Moving away from healthcare-based roles, finding employment as a social worker could be a better fit for you. In this role, you will be allocated cases and have to manage this workload, meeting with and caring for a variety of people who need support.

Although not all of the people you work with will be senior citizens, many of them do depend on social services for help with things such as welfare, connecting to healthcare services, carers, and so forth.

You will need to do a degree in social work for this job, whether that is an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. You should also make sure you get some work experience to help prepare you for this role, and your college might be able to help you with this.

10. Administration Staff and Senior Care Homes

While there are plenty of healthcare roles that you can find in senior care homes and centers, it’s important not to forget the essential part the administrative staff play in these facilities.

This could be a more suitable role for someone who prefers office-based jobs and isn’t interested in training to become a nurse or fill another healthcare role.

It is a great opportunity to work closely with senior citizens as well as their families, and you will be doing things like helping to keep the facility’s records, arranging appointments for people interested in viewing the home as a possible place to live, liaising with the residents’ relatives and other staff members on-site, HR tasks, and so forth.

If you do prefer administrative roles and have some previous experience in this, perhaps working on the admin staff in a senior care home could be the perfect fit for you.

What Does it Take to Work with Senior Citizens?

All job roles will have a specific set of requirements, so you should always do some further research into any position that you are interested in to learn more about this.

However, some skills and qualities that are great for any role that works with senior citizens are as follows. Firstly, you do need to be patient, as some seniors that you work with might have physical or mental health issues that impact the way that they communicate, move, or function in other ways.

You’ll also need to have a compassionate nature, as some seniors might be frightened if they are having health scares, or perhaps are feeling lonely if they have lost a life partner or do not have anyone close to them nearby.

Being an effective communicator is also important, as some seniors may be hard of hearing, or have other conditions that can limit their understanding and communication skills.

Time management and organization will also be useful, as they are in most careers. This is especially true for those working in healthcare or carer roles, as those in your care might need to stick to a certain routine, or have set times to take their medications, etc.

You will also need to be an observant person, as some indications that a senior’s mental or physical health isn’t well can sometimes be subtle. It could be something as simple as noticing that they appear to be lonely or sad, and perhaps would like someone to talk to.

You should also feel confident to use your initiative, as although in your senior care role you might have been given instructions regarding medication management, etc., you might find yourself in an emergency that requires you to make quick, informed decisions for the well-being of the individuals in your care.

Working with senior citizens can be a very rewarding job, and if you are someone who cares about this age group and wants to make sure that they are supported properly, you likely have already considered some of the careers listed above.

There are other options available, but these are all good places to start your research to help you find the ideal role for your skills and traits.

Although jobs like this can be hard at times, you can take comfort in knowing that the work you do matters and you are actively giving back to your community and helping seniors to enjoy their golden years as best they can.

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