Why you should consider a career in senior living
When I visit with residents in our communities, a common question I receive is, “Why do you choose to work in retirement living?” Actually, I get that question from people in general, too.
Looking back at the 15 years I’ve served in this amazing field, there have been so many opportunities to help change the way our society views seniors and aging. In the day to day work, we are running a business – finding ways to educate people about the value senior living offers, and dealing with the complexities of managing budgets, leading staff and juggling numerous priorities and requests for time and attention. But, shaping the daily work with vision and values, and directing it all to create a better product for residents and their families is what makes senior living so fulfilling.
I was blessed to have all four of my grandparents in my life for almost 23 years. They taught me so much, and helped me build the values, interests and perspectives I have today. My dad’s mom was very entrepreneurial and loved local politics. She and my grandfather owned some small stores and apartments during their retirement. My grandfather had a great sense of humor and enjoyed time bowling, woodworking and spending time with the grandkids. My mom’s dad taught me how to play golf, and I golfed with him often as a teenager. He and my grandmother worked tough blue collar jobs, he as a machinist and she in a textile mill. Both grandfathers fought in World War II experiences and shared life stories from before, during and after the war. Both grandmothers taught me how to cook (ahem, and clean) and make some really tasty meals.
It’s through my grandparents I learned how vital seniors are to all of our lives. They’ve “been there” and “done that.” Despite the best of times and worst of times in their lives, seniors typically bring a special perspective only gathered through years of experience. They should be honored for their contributions, but more important encouraged to continue contributing to society in their own special ways.
Beyond my own personal experiences, the numbers speak for themselves when it comes to a growing need for more people to work in seniors housing, and with seniors directly. In fact, approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day. Today, the aged 65+ population is 13% of the population; that will grow to 20% by 2030. What’s more, 90% of this group will have one or several chronic conditions requiring greater simplicity in life and added support.
This is why I believe each person who chooses a senior living career can find fulfillment. No matter how we serve, whether directly in communities or thinking about and working on ways to impact the lives of seniors, the senior living field is open and welcoming to fresh faces and new ideas.
So, for people considering a career in this field, think carefully about what motivates and inspires you. The field of senior living has a lot to offer – but, more important, has a lot you can offer it and the people we serve.
Pictured: Associates at Edgewood Downs in Beaverton, OR