What’s It Like to Work in a Senior Living Community?

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Explore a Career in Senior Living
Senior community resident woman smiling while receiving a haircut.

If you dream of a career where you can positively impact the lives of others, enjoy days that are never the same, and build positive relationships with your peers and those you serve, working in a senior living community could be just what you are looking for. 

Senior living communities are busy places, full of professionals who are dedicated to their residents and their work. It takes many types of team members to make up a senior living community staff, and each individual plays an important role in the community. 

No matter whether you have extensive experience or just have a heart for serving older adults, you could find a career in senior living. Let us tell you more about what it looks like to have a career serving diverse and unique individuals in a senior living community.

Who works in senior living?

According to the American Health Care Association (AHCA), more than 450,000 employees work in assisted living communities across the country. That number is significant, but it’s a bit deceiving. The number of team members who serve seniors is much more than 450,000, because the AHCA statistic doesn’t include people who work in communities with other lifestyle options besides assisted living, such as independent living and memory care. 

No matter what the actual number of senior living employees is, one thing is for sure: Senior living communities rely on a diverse, compassionate, and talented team to run effectively and efficiently.

Senior living communities hire nurses and caregivers, but those clinicians are not the only professionals you will find serving residents with a smile. You can also find social workers, dining team members, housekeepers, administrative professionals, vehicle drivers, and maintenance workers alongside residents and behind the scenes. 

Each position, as well as the individual that fills that position, is a part of the resident’s full hospitality experience. The right team members know that they have a crucial role in assisting residents in meeting their wellness goals, embracing each day to the fullest, and enjoying the little things.

Searching for a fulfilling career where you can make someone’s day? A job in senior living is all about helping people.

What are the residents like in a senior living community?

Working at a senior living community means dedicating your career to serving older adults. 

If you’ve never worked with a senior before, it’s okay! Perhaps one of the best parts of working in senior living is that on-the-job training is available to give you the tools you need to provide assistance or support. If you have a heart for serving seniors, you can learn the technical parts of the job.

Each resident is unique, which means you have the opportunity to get to know something new about everyone you serve. Some residents are fully retired while others still work a bit or consult to share their talents. You’ll find residents who are accomplished artists and writers, as well as residents who proudly served in the military. Residents are funny, with dazzling senses of humor; they can be kind, ready to welcome you to the community. Residents are dog lovers and cat owners and everything in between. They teach each other new things and support one another through tough times.

Getting to know residents and forming a true relationship with them by learning more about their histories and preferences is by far the best part of working in a senior living community. You’ll use that information to develop personalized interventions and approaches as you serve each individual.

What is training like for a senior living community?

While some professionals come to a senior living community with experience in healthcare or senior care, that is not always a prerequisite for employment. New employees are given the opportunity to attend orientation training as well as ongoing education sessions about best practices in senior health topics. With on-the-job training, everyone is qualified and ready to care for residents.

For those who work in a memory care community, specialized training and education all about dementia is the industry standard. You’ll love learning something new at each education session so you can grow your dementia care toolbox and have a variety of interventions to use with residents as needed.

It’s common for senior living employees to work their way through different positions, including management opportunities. Exceptional senior living communities promote from within and provide the education and training team members need as they develop their own career paths.

What is a daily shift like in a senior living community?

Life in senior living is a lot like life elsewhere, where every day is different. 

A shift can be busy, with lots of resident needs and support; or it can be slow, with plenty of extra time to sit down and play a card game with a few residents. Some days are packed with large happy hour socials where you’ll find yourself singing to the Elvis impersonator who is entertaining in the living room. Other days, you might find yourself on a bus ride to support residents heading out for a day of shopping. You’ll seize the little moments when they arise, offering an encouraging word to a distressed family member or high-fiving a resident when he tells you about good news he got at his physician appointment.

A career in senior living is busy, rewarding, and downright fun if you work in the right community. You’ll find that it is easy to create relationships with residents as well as their family members and your coworkers. 

When done right, senior living feels like a big family. Of course, there will be difficult days and busy shifts when you’re exhausted by the time you get in your car to drive home. But it’s all worth it because you know that you are giving your best to the residents you serve and the team you serve with.

Begin your senior living career today.

Ready to begin, or continue, your senior living career with a company that values employees as much as it values residents? Learn more about the Cedarhurst positions available near you.

Ready to start your career in senior living? Let’s talk about the ways you can make a difference at Cedarhurst communities.

Originally published February 2022. Revised October 2023.

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