An increasing aging population across the globe means new job creation for many whose focus is on senior care.

The trend of gerontology-related fields is paying particular attention to independence and productivity rather than illness and loss but also includes a broad range of jobs related to health and wellness, business and financial services, housing, and travel.

Interestingly, one in every five people walking down Grafton Street in 20 years will be over the age of 65, according to statistics by Public Affairs Ireland. The senior population currently stands at 540,000 people over 65 years of age, or 12 percent of Ireland’s population. However, this number is set to rise to 1.4 million, or 22 percent of the total population by 2041.

Such a dramatic increase in population also means employment opportunities working with older adults will abound. Here are five career choices designed to help older people live happier, healthier lives:

Fitness trainers

The wellness and fitness industry is a booming one, especially for those serving older adults seeking lifestyles that improve the quality of their lives.

One of the inevitable aspects of aging is the gradual loss of muscle tissue, known as sarcopenia. The rate of muscle loss can be slowed with resistance or strength training, especially with help from a qualified trainer.

Adults from 50 to 80 can lose up to eight times more muscle mass than is lost in the previous 30 years, which is why it’s so important to focus on muscle function, power and strength. Good personal trainers know how important their jobs and aren’t intimidated to work with older adults.

A study by International Council on Active Aging (ICCA), indicates that organizations within the “active aging industry” are ahead of the curve in their level of readiness to help older consumers: 90 percent of 170 executives surveyed believe focusing on lifestyle and wellness is an important, or extremely important, strategy for growing their businesses. Additionally, 88 percent said they plan to increase their investment in wellness over the next two years.

For the survey, wellness was defined to mean the “non-medical lifestyle, fitness, activities, recreation or prevention options.” Respondents were asked to exclude therapy, nursing or medical services from their ratings.

Health care workers

The high demand for health care jobs is not a new phenomenon even with the demographic shift creating more opportunities for a wide range of workers. Medical decisions are difficult to tackle alone, regardless of age. Today’s seniors need all the backup they can get when it comes to health care. In fact, studies in the U.S. have shown that over 25 percent of seniors let their health insurance coverage expire. We owe it to ourselves to help make sure no one falls through the cracks.

“You don’t have to be a surgeon or ICU nurse: there are hundreds of areas of specialization, such as music therapists for Alzheimer’s patients, and occupational therapists for the elderly,” writes aging expert Kerry Hannon in Forbes. “While my friend Carol was visiting her Uncle Bob in a New Jersey “assisted living” home this week, an instructor was leading a class in tap dancing for a group of elderly women. The choice of music – “Staying Alive.”

Senior care facilities also rely on geriatric nurse practitioners to provide comprehensive healthcare services specifically for aging patients. Geriatric nursing practitioners conduct physicals, evaluate well-being and devise care plans specifically for these individuals.

Other positions include registered nurses, mental health counselors, social workers, physical therapists, physician assistants and dental hygienists. Social workers can play an important role because they provide psychosocial assessments which help older people understand their role within their family and community. From the assessment, social workers can then develop a plan to improve areas of person’s life that could be contributing to difficulties.

Au pairs

Browse through the classifieds, and you’ll find that au pairs are in high demand in Ireland. Here’s a common scenario:

“We are looking for another au pair to join our current live-in au pair who stays with our mum and dad (both in their 80’s). Mum has dementia, so she needs companionship and home care. This is a live-in position and the job would not exceed 35 hours per week.”

Au pairs for the elderly are becoming a more popular alternative to residential care, especially for the able-bodied and independent elderly persons. Typically an au pair who works as an elderly companion will be responsible for light housework, medication reminders, transportation and visits, shopping and errands and, of course, companionship.

Retirement coaches

The retirement aspect of career coaching is one of the fastest growing segments of this self-regulated industry. These coaches counsel retirees on planning for the future. There’s a lot to know about life insurance, health care, and end of life issues. We don’t have to go it alone.

The nonprofit International Coach Federation (ICF) is the only organization that awards a global credential, which is currently held by over 4,800 coaches worldwide. ICF credentialed coaches have met stringent educational requirements, received specific coach training, and achieved a designated number of experience hours, among other requirements.

Author Bio

Melissa Davidson is a freelance writer with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Montana. She covers health, wellness, business and social issues. When she’s not hovering over a keyboard, she can be found running and riding on dirt with her dog, Romeo.

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