What the Public Thinks of Senior Living Careers

Millennials are more likely than older generations to consider a career in senior living, but they’re still not entirely sold on working in the industry. That’s just one finding from an extensive survey from industry association Argentum on public perceptions of senior living careers. The report breaks down views not only by generation, but according to gender, previous experience with senior living, and other factors.

While only 11% of baby boomers and 14% of those in generation X would think about taking their career into the senior living industry, a greater portion of millennials indicated they would do so, at 22%, according to the report “Public Perceptions of Careers in Senior Living.” Even so, the majority of millennials—57%—said they wouldn’t consider senior living for various reasons, including not having the appropriate training, lacking knowledge about the industry and physical and emotional demands.

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Additionally, 20% of women said they would consider a senior living career, but only 12% of men said the same. In fact, men are far more likely to reject senior living for a job path, with 70% of respondents indicating so.

The report compiles results from an online survey of 801 adults age 18 to 64 conducted in September in conjunction with national polling firm ORC International.

In terms of job satisfaction, millennials prize opportunities for career advancement, while baby boomers find fair pay, benefits and the chance to use their skills and abilities as important. Meanwhile, generation X seeks flexibility in order to be satisfied on the job.

“Understanding how priorities and goals vary among different target groups can inform and direct recruitment and retention initiatives as well as communication programs,” the report states. “It also will be valuable as the industry develops standard qualifications, credentialing programs and metrics for tracking employee satisfaction and engagement.”

Overall, firsthand experience with senior living compelled one-third of respondents to indicate that they would consider a senior living career, compared to only 13% who haven’t seen senior living up close and personal. What’s more, those with experience are more likely to expect high satisfaction on the job, in terms of flexibility, feelings of personal accomplishment and more.

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Respondents also noted the biggest perceived benefits and challenges associated with working in the senior living industry. For example, more than half view interactions with residents as a benefit to a senior living job, while 40% see it as a challenge. Specifically, participants commented on helping people in need, caring for people and establishing relationships as benefits to resident interaction, while those that described it as a challenge referred to dealing with death and patients in poor health, becoming too attached and handling those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Noteworthy in this regard is the terminology used in responses, according to Argentum. Many of the comments depicted nursing homes as opposed to assisted living communities, or referred to residents as patients.

“This signals an important gap in the potential workforce’s understanding of senior living—what it is and what it offers (to residents and to professionals in the industry)—and represents a critical opportunity for education and clarification,” the report states.

Written by Kourtney Liepelt

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