Monday, June 18, 2012

Interview-Working With Older Adults

We were lucky to speak with Carol, whose career involves working with the elderly. Carol made a career change when she was in her 40's. Here's what she shared about her degree and career:

What was your major/degree in college? Major: Gerontology
                                                              Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Where did you earn your degree? Metropolitan State University

What is your position title? Director of Older Adult Ministry

Where are you employed? Mount Olivet Lutheran Church; I am going to be switching positions shortly to Open Circle.

What led you to choose your career?
I always enjoyed working with and being with older adults.  I had been in insurance for 16 years and  had an opportunity to go back to school and focus on another career.

What did you like or dislike about your college courses?
Coursework - enjoyed it very much because it was an area of interest for me.

What was your first job after you graduated from college?
1st job - Mount Olivet Day Services - I had done an internship for one of my courses and was hired after I graduated from Metro State.

What was the path you followed to get to your current job?
I got the job I have now because I heard of an opening at Mount Olivet through someone that worked there at the time.

What advice would you have for someone thinking about a career in social work?
Most importantly, do it because it is your passion.  Make sure you have the patience to work with this population.  If you do, it is a very rewarding career.

Would you have done anything differently while you were in college?
No.  I think after high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do so I just received my AA from Anoka- Ramsey. Going back to school in my 40's, I was focused and knew what I wanted as my second career.

What do you do on the job?
On a daily basis - many phone calls to homebound members in their home/facility;  visiting them in their homes; assessing their needs, offering resources to them or their families.

What other roles do you play?
Other roles - assist co-workers on their events - health fairs, speakers, caregiver meetings.

What do you like the most about your career?
Like the most - visiting with people, listening to their stories, helping them with resources.

What do you like the least? Does anything surprise you about the job?
Like least - knowing that it is time for someone to move from their home into assisted living & the refusal to do so; knowing that there will probably be an event such as a fall that will force them into a move.  What is surprising - the resistance that a person has towards change and towards moving from their home;  also the disappointment on their part that they are unable to drive their cars - this is major!!

Is this a stressful job?
Not too stressful -  very busy at times but not too bad.

What other careers could you have with your degree?
Other careers -  I could work in an assisted living/nursing home as a therapeutic recreation leader, or resident advisor.  The work I have been doing is very much social work although I do not have a degree in social work.

Who would be most suitable for this career?
One who has passion for working with the elderly, patience, and kindness.

Any other thoughts?
I think that working with the elderly is a very rewarding career.  You have to love working with this population and their families.  Families can be under a lot of stress figuring out what to do, and where to move their parents.

Thanks, Carol, for such wonderful insights!

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