Improving the Quality of Life for Older Adults Through Senior Care

Brandon Arbuckle May 16, 2023
Nurses assisting elderly people at retirement home.

With baby boomers aging into retirement, the need for healthcare professionals who can provide quality care for seniors has never been greater. Are you passionate about improving the lives of others? Then working in senior care can lead to a rewarding and impactful career. In this blog post, we’ll discuss types of care, what jobs are available, and the steps you can take toward making a difference in residents’ lives.

What is Senior Care? 

Senior care refers to services that fulfill the health needs for the elderly. As people age, some may experience physical or cognitive complications that affect their health and require assistance completing activities of daily living (ADLs). These health changes can be sudden, such as experiencing a fall, stroke, or heart attack, while other medical conditions are chronic or develop over time. Senior care workers support the physical and emotional well-being of patients by helping with activities like dressing, eating, and bathing. 

A graphic showing the percentage of adults age 65 and older who will need assistance with daily activities.
Home Care Association of America

According to the Home Care Association of America, 7 in 10 Americans 65 and older will need assistance at some point in their lives, while 4 in 10 seniors will need assistance every day. This has led to a rapid expansion of assisted living facilities and other forms of senior living communities.

“Different from hospital and acute care, senior care facilities provide both medical and personal support services to clients, and it creates a home for clients to receive the care they need,” said  University of Wisconsin Master of Science in Healthcare Administration graduate Lynn Wang.

There are a variety of care models based on how much assistance someone needs:

Home-based care 

Most seniors prefer to stay in their home as long as possible, making home-based care an appealing option for those who would like to live independently, but may need access to services. Home-based care involves minimal assistance while ensuring residents have safe living conditions. This type of care is often provided by family members and friends, but arrangements can be made for healthcare professionals to help with ADLs.

Assisted living

Seniors in assisted living receive support with activities such as making meals, bathing, and taking medicine. Since there isn’t 24/7 care, residents in these communities remain largely independent. More than 800,000 Americans live in assisted living facilities, with over half of seniors in assisted living being 85 and older. The median stay for a resident is about 22 months, after which 60 percent will typically move out of assisted living and into a skilled nursing home. Monthly rental fees cover housekeeping and maintenance costs, along with utilities and transportation. Compared to nursing homes, assisted living facilities are less institutional and more like a home, typically being composed of apartments or units with varying levels of amenities.

Skilled nursing

Also known as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities provide around-the-clock care by doctors, nurses, and specialized therapists. The majority of seniors in skilled nursing facilities require long-term care, though some patients are admitted to rehabilitation after experiencing a heart attack or other medical emergency. Nursing homes feature more intensive care compared to assisted living facilities, and the emphasis on medical care gives them similarities to clinics and hospitals. These facilities are also more expensive than assisted living communities.

RELATED: UW Healthcare Administration Program Prepares Student to be a Leader in Healthcare

What Jobs Can You Get in Senior Care? 

According to the US Census Bureau, longer life expectancies and record low birth rates among younger women are contributing to an overall older population, increasing the demand for skilled professionals who can provide quality care. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects healthcare occupations will grow 13 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. This ensures a number of job opportunities for healthcare workers, such as nurses and EMTs, who may be looking to make a career change. Wisconsin alone has about 1,500 assisted living communities, according to the National Center for Assisted Living. This translates to roughly 30,000 jobs across the state. 

Professionals in the senior care field can work in these communities as long-term care professionals and nursing home administrators who use effective leadership to improve care for patients. Other positions can include: 

RELATED: 4 Reasons Why Transitioning from a Clinician Role to a Health Administration Role Could be Right for You

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How Can You Get Started in Senior Care? 

If you wish to positively impact the lives of seniors as part of your healthcare career, the UW Graduate Certificate in Senior Living and Services Leadership can help you get there. The certificate is designed for professionals with pre-existing healthcare experience who want to advance their career. 

The 12-credit program can be completed in one year and includes courses on generational dynamics, financial management, and gerontology. Students in the UW Healthcare Administration program can also add the certificate as a continuing education opportunity to learn the skills needed for the senior care field. 

For Lynn Wang, she began her career as a registered nurse who worked with residents at a skilled nursing facility. After earning her UW Master of Science in Healthcare Administration, she accepted a new role at the facility as an administrator-in-training. Lynn completed courses in the Senior Living and Services Leadership certificate to better develop her understanding of senior care and excel in the workplace.

“I enjoy working at a skilled nursing facility because it provides the opportunity for me to not only practice what I have learned from school, but also know more about the residents and witness their progress through time,” she said. “I have completed two courses of the Senior Living and Services Leadership program from the Healthcare Administration program. I would like to pursue more education in senior leadership and prepare my career in long-term care facilities leadership and management in the future.”

To learn more about the UW Graduate Certificate in Senior Living and Services Leadership, contact an enrollment adviser today at 608-800-6762 or

Programs: Healthcare Administration, Senior Living and Services Leadership