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Careers Working with the Elderly

People who enjoy working with the elderly may be interested in exploring career options that emphasize providing services to older individuals. We'll explore several of these options, highlighting salary, duties, and projected employment growth.

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Career Options for Working with the Elderly

As people age they have specific needs. Many have health issues and practical or social needs. Those who are interested in working with the elderly may want to consider a number of careers in healthcare, management or personal care.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Recreation Therapists $46,410 7%
Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides $22,170 40%
Medical and Health Services Managers $96,540 20%
Occupational Therapists $81,910 21%
Recreation Workers $23,870 9%
Hearing Aid Specialists $50,250 19%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Information for Working with the Elderly

Recreation Therapists

Recreation therapists work with patients who have social, emotional or physical needs due to causes such as illness. Once they've determined the patient's medical needs they create a program to address their specific issues, such as participating in therapeutic activities or providing guidance to patients struggling with emotional issues. It's common for recreation therapists to be employed by nursing homes where they will work with elderly patients. A bachelor's degree in recreation therapy is required to work as a recreation therapist and employers may also require these therapists to be certified.

Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Home health aides and personal care aides visit clients in their homes and provide them with personal assistance to perform tasks such as bathing. They may also be responsible for giving patients medications, taking clients to visit friends, cleaning the client's home and cooking food. It's common for these professionals to work with older patients who live on their own or reside in a nursing home. They must have a high school diploma or GED and complete some on-the-job training; some employers may require home health and personal care aides to earn relevant certification to work in this field.

Medical and Health Services Managers

Medical and health services managers ensure medical facilities run properly by scheduling staff and services, hiring and training staff and determining how to improve the services their facility provides. While those that work in hospitals and doctors' offices may work with patients of all ages, some medical and health services managers specialize in overseeing nursing home operations where they are responsible for overseeing the care for elderly residents. This involves ensuring all residents are properly cared for. Employers expect medical and health services managers to have a bachelor's or master's degree in a relevant field of study, such as public health administration.

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists are healthcare professionals who must have a master's degree in their field and a license. They work with individuals who have physical impairments to help them learn or relearn skills. Some occupational therapists work in nursing homes and focus exclusively on working with older patients to help them retain the skills they need to perform regular tasks on their own. Others work with elderly patients in their practice or in hospitals and help them recover from injuries or illnesses.

Recreation Workers

It's common to think of recreation workers as camp counselors who work with children, but recreation workers may also be employed by nursing homes and community centers that provide activities for older people. Their work involves planning things like crafts or games and then teaching participants the activity. Recreation workers must have a high school diploma or GED. It can be possible to learn through on-the-job training, although some employers may expect recreation workers to have an associate's or bachelor's degree in a relevant subject area.

Hearing Aid Specialists

Hearing aid specialists work with clients who have suffered hearing loss. They perform tests to determine the nature of the client's condition, get the information needed to produce hearing aids for the client and then demonstrate to clients how to operate the hearing aids. It can be possible to learn this profession through on-the-job training or by completing postsecondary studies to earn a certificate or associate's degree. Since a considerable percentage of elderly individuals suffer from hearing loss hearing aid specialists work with many older clients.

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