Golden Years Create Job Goldmine [Video]

Job Goldmine When Tim Carpenter was a fresh college grad with a degree in journalism, he never dreamed his life would eventually be dedicated to helping seniors -- and that he would be loving every minute of it.

Carpenter has won national awards and grants for helping the elderly, and the ideal job he's created for himself not only pays the bills for his family, but also is wonderfully rewarding and fulfilling. He goes home every day knowing that he has made a real difference.

Carpenter chatted with AOL Jobs on This Week in Careers, about the booming industry of caring for the aging. It's no longer a world of wheelchairs, walkers and bingo.

Rewarding activities

In Engage, the program Carpenter runs, he has seniors writing screenplays and making films, doing stage productions, oil painting, and doing Pilates and yoga, and he hires specialists to help with all of that. "Engage is a nonprofit that takes a whole-person approach to creative and healthy aging by providing arts, wellness, lifelong learning, community building and intergenerational programs to thousands of seniors," he explains. The jobs are as varied as the people.

Carpenter's job is varied as well. How did he come about working with seniors? "I feel like I went back to where I started," he says. "I always gravitated toward seniors. I grew up as part of a large, Irish Catholic family, and story telling is a big deal to the Irish. It's a competitive sport that's usually played at the dinner table. I learned fairly early on that older people tell better stories than younger people, so I always ended up at that end of the table and I never really got away from it," he laughs.

From graduating in journalism Carpenter went into marketing, started working with health care companies, and got involved in health care marketing for seniors. That led him to where he is today. But he says there are myriad paths that lead to careers that involve working with seniors.

"There are careers in gerontology, social work, all sorts of social service-type things. The industry of aging is changing quite a bit. The assisted living industry is enormous. Activity directors and administrators and marketing people are in demand. All the jobs that are able to be had in other industries are alive and well in the senior health care industry."

Carpenter's life is dedicated to "providing programs inside senior housing where we keep people active. We provide jobs for people to teach programs. "We're constantly trying to find people in different types of industries to come in and teach the seniors. We're always looking for art teachers, filmmakers, writing teachers, fitness instructors, all kinds of things."

A fortuitous development

Rian Foutz, an athletic California resident in his early 30s, watches sports, spends time with his family, rides motorcycles and goes four-wheeling on the weekends; but during the week you'll find him patiently assisting seniors at one of the two imaging centers where he works as the chief administrator. He makes sure patients receive their CAT Scans, MRI's, X-Rays, Dexascans, etc., smoothly and efficiently.

Foutz wasn't aware that he would be working with seniors extensively when he graduated with a business degree, but since one of the imaging centers is in a retirement community where health care services are in demand, he finds himself spending a lot of time with those over 70 -- and he says it's extremely rewarding.

"I love to hear their stories about their generation -- how different it was back then," he says. "They actually have manners and respect. It's good to hear about their work ethic -- how hard they worked to get where they are. They also teach you how to treat your wife, your friends, and your siblings with respect. They come to us when they're in pain, but they bear that pain with dignity."

Foutz notes that there's a great demand for medical techs (to run the MRI's, mammograms, ultra sounds, etc) in radiology centers like his. "They have great lives -- good money, regular hours -- and there are plenty of jobs; they're really in demand," he says. It's an area of the health care industry that grows as the population ages.

Carpenter observes that in Asia, where age is respected, it's a great honor to work with seniors, and he hopes that attitude will catch on in the states, as senior care increasingly creates invaluable jobs and careers that actually have meaning and make a great, tangible difference.

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