Senior care is poised as one of the fastest growing fields, largely due to the growing senior population in Canada and abroad. Now more than ever with the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelming healthcare systems, senior caregivers are needed to aid those needing extra care.
As the field of senior care continues to grow, career (and volunteer) opportunities will increase as well. Working in senior care can be an extremely rewarding experience that leads to a fulfilling career. Learn what’s involved in this field, and whether it’s right for you.
Is a Career in Senior Care Right for You?
Today, more than 15 per cent of the Canadian population is aged 65 or older, with this number expected to rise to 23 per cent by 2030. While this means that there will likely be an abundance of jobs in the field of senior care, as with choosing any career path, it’s important to understand what a career in senior care will entail.
To start, working and caring for seniors requires specific personality traits and skills, including:
Compassion is integral when caring for another person, regardless of their age. This emotional engagement will help you find fulfillment in helping others with their physical, mental or emotional needs.
Empathy is an important characteristic no matter who you’re working with, but is especially important when working with seniors. Being able to put yourself in the position of those you’re caring for who may be experiencing the changes that come with aging is important in building relationships.
The idea of respecting and listening to your elders couldn’t be more true when caring for seniors. It’s important to make a point of listening to those you care for, and understand how their life experiences can bring value to those around them.
Maintaining a positive disposition is vital when caring for seniors and communicating with their families, as they may be undergoing a transitional period in their lives. Maintaining your own optimism can often help support the physical and mental health of your client.
In addition to the traits outlined above, those well-suited to caring for seniors often feel passionately about providing a personal approach to healthcare, and providing excellent customer service. This in turn creates a positive environment for residents and staff.
The Benefits of a Career in Senior Care
Generally, a number of benefits you may realize upon working within senior care include:
Making a difference
Whether you work to help seniors regain their independence, or working behind the scenes in research, those who work with seniors can experience immense satisfaction knowing that they’re helping make a difference in their residents’ lives.
Enjoying job availability & security
As the senior population grows, so too does the demand for those to work within senior care. This trend ensures the demand for professionals with knowledge and expertise in senior care. As well, because there are so many opportunities and different positions available within senior care, there’s job security at every point of the career ladder.
Finding work for a variety of skill levels
As with many jobs, those looking to get their foot in the door working with seniors may start with an entry-level position and work their way up over the years by earning advanced certifications and gaining valuable experience. This can be especially encouraging if you’re still in school and considering volunteer opportunities either on your own time or for the next school year.
Senior Care Positions
There’s a host of different opportunities within senior care you can pursue, depending upon your educational background, experience and interests. While the list below provides some examples, it’s by no means exhaustive. If you’re considering pursuing a career within senior care, look through job ads in your area or contact nearby retirement residences for job openings.
A few common positions include:
- Health Care Aids (HCA)
HCAs provide care and support to seniors in a variety of ways, including bathing, grooming, dressing, mobility exercises, medication assistance, and more.
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
CNAs provide basic care to patients and assist them in daily activities they may have trouble doing on their own, such as bathing and dressing.
- Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN)
LPNs/LVNs work under the direction of a doctor and help to administer basic care to patients. Many LPNs/LVNs work in retirement residences, or in-home healthcare.
- Occupational Therapist
Occupational therapists are specialists who treat injured, ill, disabled, or senior patients through everyday activities.
- Physical Therapist
Physical therapists diagnose and treat patients who have health conditions that limit their ability to perform everyday activities. Physical therapists can help seniors achieve physical health and mobility, by focusing on ailments like arthritis, osteoporosis, and joint problems.
- Guest Attendant
Guest attendants provide personal care to senior residents in a safe and efficient manner, according to the policies and procedures of the retirement residence. They may also provide other services, such as housekeeping and laundry.
- Registered Nurse (RN)
Registered nurses who specialize in senior care help patients improve physical ailments associated with aging, as well as cognitive ailments, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Chefs who work within retirement residences are committed to creating a culinary experience of the highest quality, consistency and creativity.
- Social Worker
Social workers who work with seniors work closely with medical and health professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, physicians, and nurses to help their clients manage mental health conditions, reduce daily stress, and cope with illnesses.
Without senior caregivers, the growing aging population will not have the support and services it needs. Undoubtedly, the demand for people interested in filling those roles is here to stay for decades to come, making the chances for a long-term and rewarding career that much stronger. Apply for a career at a retirement community if you would like to make a difference in the life of a senior.