Why Assisted Living Residents Want to Work

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 09 April 2012

When you work, the bulk of your waking hours are devoted to that job. A career — your vocation — is so closely tied to identity and your sense of self, whether you enjoy the work or not. Men and women who have worked hard for decades may look forward to retirement to have more time for the things they enjoy, but when they lose the structure and security of a job, they also often find themselves bored, restless, and possibly depressed. The loss of purpose and the feeling of not being useful can be crippling.

For years, the mainstream thoughts on retirement have been focused on relaxation, taking it easy, recreation. This is changing: more people are aspiring to an active retirement, hoping to stay busy for as long as possible. Retirement communities and independent living homes are designed to support this active and autonomous lifestyle (many residents of these venues still have jobs or volunteer regularly outside the walls of the community), but assisted living is a very different environment.

A recent discussion thread at our #ElderCareChat LinkedIn group spoke to this issue; one member shared her positive experience with putting an assisted living resident to work. She writes, “We found ways he could contribute to the facility, get outside, and work in ways that were in line with his physical capabilities. He helped with gardening, taking out garbage, picking up sticks – and he LOVED it. His mood and energy improved.” (Weigh in on the discussion and read more about it here.)

If you are a home-base caregiver or a care professional in assisted living, don’t assume your caree — or the residents — just want to relax. Find out if there is a job they can do, and prepare to be surprised by the results.


There are 3 Comments about this post

  1. Sandra Hoy says,

    Great idea! One of my clients (I sell senior health insurance) was 84 and working part time for a local restaurant rolling silverware. She loved it, they loved her and it gave her something to do to make her feel productive. Some people are not ‘joiners’ or ‘volunteers’, but may be inticed to keep moving if they got a small stipend to do odd jobs around the facility.


    on 09 April 2012 / 5:36 PM

  2. Tony Rovere says,

    I think this is terrific. Because this gives people a sense of purpose…and that can be a powerful motivator when it comes to feeling great about yourself.

    I don’t know if it would work in a nursing home…the residents there are in a further state of decline…but for assisted living residents who can…why not?


    on 09 April 2012 / 9:09 PM

  3. Sandra, that’s great to hear! Yes, very true. Some need the extra motivation and a small stipend makes sense. Thanks for commenting!

    Tony, I agree. A sense of purpose has significant bearing on self-esteem. Yes, it would likely be more difficult to accomplish in a nursing home, but in assisted living, certainly. Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts!


    on 10 April 2012 / 7:24 AM


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