Senior Population boom means more jobs

Special to The Log

As America’s aging population grows, a local senior care company is gearing up to meet the expected need for services. The Home Instead Senior Care office serving Okaloosa and Walton counties anticipates adding up to 20 professional CAREGivers to its staff by the end of 2015.

By 2050, it is predicted that the senior population will more than double from the 2010 numbers with a projected estimate of 88.5 million people aged 65 or older. As these seniors age, they often need help with their daily activities. In fact, about 29 percent of the U.S. population reports that it currently spends an average of 20 hours per week providing care for a chronically ill, disabled or aging loved one.

The demand for professional caregivers will continue to grow as they are an important component of the care continuum for seniors — helping seniors age safely in their homes while lightening the load for their family members.

“Whether a senior just needs some help running errands and doing some light cooking and cleaning, or they need round-the-clock care, having a professional CAREGiver can make a huge difference in the life of a senior and their family members,” says Todd Harrell, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Fort Walton Beach. “The type of person who typically excels in this industry is compassionate and enjoys helping others. Those are the main requirements for the job. Beyond that, they could be a recent graduate, someone between jobs or someone who just wants to give back. It’s really a broad range.”

Keto MacMillan is 79 and has been a Home Instead CAREGiver for 3 ½ years. She said the job is very rewarding. She enjoys making seniors laugh, getting them out of the house and doing whatever she can to make their lives happier.

“They do more for me than I do for them. They keep me upbeat, make me feel like I’m something special and they’re really the special ones. It’s just amazing,” MacMillan said.

Being a CAREGiver gives people like MacMillan a good work-life balance with a flexible schedule. The home care jobs that are available do not require prior training. Rather, newly hired individuals participate in the Home Instead CAREGiver training program to equip them with all the knowledge they need to get started. CAREGivers also have the opportunity to receive additional training throughout their careers in such areas as Alzheimer’s care.

“We keep up on all of the latest news and industry standards in home care,” says Harrell. “And our training program helps to ensure that our CAREGivers are getting the information they need to better support seniors and their families.”