If you’re looking for a job that gives a real sense of satisfaction and of making a difference in the lives of others, you won’t find anything more rewarding than a career in elderly care. Working with the aged can at times be challenging but is also hugely rewarding and is a vital part of the overall healthcare industry.
Reasons to work with the elderly
With the average life expectancy increasing year by year, a job in this growing field could offer real career stability in times to come. The over-65s already account for 13% of the US population, and the number is set to skyrocket to 95 million by 2060 – meaning individuals with skills and experience in caring for the aged will remain in high demand.
However – and much more importantly – helping older people to overcome difficulties and improve their quality of life gives a real sense of achievement. Whether you’re working hands-on with patients to help regain mobility or take a more back seat, developmental role, knowing you’ve made an impact on someone else’s life can be tremendously satisfying. Indeed, care and medically-related roles frequently top the list of the world’s most satisfying jobs.
A diverse sector – with equally diverse jobs
While most people are aware of the more typical and obvious roles performed in care homes and facilities, a vast range of related jobs could see you making a real difference to the aging population. These roles require crossover skills attained in other disciplines, with practitioners choosing to specialize in elderly care once qualified.
Below are just a few ideas for how you could enter the elderly care sector and start making a real difference.
Working as a fitness instructor
It might not seem the most obvious career choice if you possess a qualification in fitness or personal training, but aging joints and muscles need as much care (if not more) as those in younger people. Working as a fitness trainer with the elderly will see you rejuvenate older citizens, giving them a controlled workout tailored to be strenuous enough to bring physical benefits without posing a danger from injury.
Most people realize exercise is good for both the body and mind, and helping older people get back into training, improve their fitness, increase their motivation and attain their health goals is a hugely positive use of specialist training knowledge.
To work as a fitness instructor for the elderly, you will need a relevant qualification, plus it’s also useful to gain experience in the role, perhaps through working in a gym or other facility. You should also have a deep knowledge of the differences between older and younger muscles and bones so you can devise safe workouts that will avoid potential accidents.
Take a job in RCFE admin
Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) don’t just run themselves, and there is a huge amount of admin duties that go on behind the scenes. A job in RCFE admin will see you performing a diverse range of tasks – everything from the general supervision of clients to helping with personal care (washing, eating, walking, etc.), planning menus, overseeing the preparation of food, training staff, etc., etc.
The RCFE admin role can be tremendously gratifying, taking a hands-on approach to the overall happiness of clients and improving their quality of life. To work in this job, you’ll need a relevant qualification, and you should be careful when researching where to take RCFE classes to find the right course for you. However, many of the more modern courses can now be completed with a mix of online and classroom teaching, which makes learning more convenient.
Once qualified as an RCFE admin, you’ll have the option to work in an existing facility or start up your own care home.
Work as an audiologist
There are many reasons why our hearing worsens with age but, working as an audiologist, you’ll be able to help the elderly combat their auditory problems and, in many cases, even improve their hearing.
Audiologists perform tests, offer diagnoses, and provide treatment for ear problems ranging from balance impairment to hearing loss. They can also advise the elderly on ways to minimize the damage to hearing and fitting hearing aids and other assistance devices like implants.
To work in this highly fulfilling role requires a degree in audiology (typically four years), after which you may choose to specialize in particular sectors (i.e., auditory processing issues, implants, problems with balance, etc.).
Work in elderly patient care at home
Often, elderly people don’t feel ready to enter care facilities and instead choose to remain in their homes. However, when this becomes too challenging, they need the extra support provided by a home helper.
Elderly patient care in the home can encompass everything from assisting with washing and dressing to cooking, performing household/shopping chores, driving patients to appointments, and generally ensuring the home environment is safe.
To work in this role, you’ll ideally possess a qualification in health and social care – however, you should check with employers as many vary in their exact requirements, with some providing on-the-job training. Perhaps more important than qualifications, you will need to have excellent soft skills, including patience, the ability to talk and listen well, relate to others, and have multitasking skills.
Take a job as an Occupational Therapist
Occupational therapists work mostly with ill, disabled, or elderly patients to help them regain skills that have been lost – often through accident or disease. This vital role helps improve the patient’s quality of life by using everyday activities to expand the abilities they need to live as normal a life as possible.
As an occupational therapist, you will also look at ways to improving the patient’s environment (perhaps my moving furniture, lowering shelves, etc.) to make it easier for them to live their lives and reduce the danger of falls, trips, and other accidents. You will also help the patient with general day-to-day tasks like washing, eating, cooking, etc.
To be an occupational therapist, you’ll need a degree in occupational therapy plus an appropriate license to work in your state.
Take a job in counseling
The aging process can be difficult for many people. Counselors work with the aged to help them overcome the often substantial emotional and physical problems they encounter as they age. There are often significant personal problems associated with aging and the social impact and isolation that can come hand in hand with reduced mobility or disabilities.
This role can often be challenging depending on the severity of the patient’s problems, so a relevant degree in psychotherapy or counseling requires a strong mental mindset and a good sense of empathy.
Work as a speech therapist
Problems with speech are often the result of other more serious health issues such as a stroke or brain injury but can still be devastating for the patient. Working as a speech therapist, you will help your patients regain their verbal communication skills and iron out any irregularities that may have crept in. Speech therapists also commonly help with problems swallowing.
To work in this role, you’ll need to have a Speech-Language Pathology degree and also have strong, soft skills such as being a good communicator and showing patience and empathy.
Jobs in elderly care – the takeout Working with the elderly can be challenging at times but is still a massively important and rewarding role to fulfill. From improving hearing to increasing quality of life, many career opportunities in the elderly care sector will see you gaining secure employment prospects while making a real difference to society.