SageLife in the News – The Benefits of Choosing a Career in Senior Living

By Heather Kato, SageLife Corporate Director of Marketing and Communications

People 65 years old and older are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and that means that career opportunities for people working with seniors are more plentiful and varied than ever.

This growing need is reflected in the expansion of the annual Careers in Aging Week — an observance dedicated to bringing greater awareness and visibility to the wide-ranging career opportunities in long-term care and aging services — to a full Careers in Aging Month in 2024.

Kelly Andress

Kelly Andress, founder and president of SageLife

This region is home to several exemplary senior living communities offering assisted living, personal care, and memory care to residents. In turn, these communities offer a variety of jobs to nurses, caregivers, activity directors, chefs and dietary aides, dining room servers, facility maintenance staff, drivers, administrative personnel, housekeeping professionals, social workers, and physical therapists. Each of these roles contributes to the health, well-being, and enrichment of residents’ lives.

Room to Advance in Your Career

Many communities offer competitive compensation and help ambitious employees grow in the field to ensure employee retention. For instance, SageLife, a Springfield, Pa.-based organization that owns and operates several award-winning senior living communities in the area, gives its team members a comprehensive benefits package, ongoing professional training, 401K plan, and tuition assistance.

Tina Wilhelmsen

Tina Wilhelmsen, general manager of Plush Mills

“When I started working in Senior Living, I didn’t know all the advancement opportunities,” explains Tina Wilhelmsen, the General Manager of SageLife’s Plush Mills in Wallingford, Pa. “I started in the marketing office, applied for a full-time business office position, and then eventually got my administrator’s license to be an Executive Director. This field is wide open for someone looking to work in a challenging but very rewarding field.”

A Life of Purpose

The benefits of a career in aging can go far beyond a good wage or an impressive title, offering a genuine sense of personal fulfillment.

“People still have a misconception about how life-enhancing senior living can be — for both residents and professionals,” explains SageLife’s Founder and President, Kelly Andress. “When you have a resident-focused ethos and a commitment to the holistic wellness of the seniors you work with, your personal satisfaction can be immeasurable. A career in aging allows you the opportunity to help people thrive, allowing them to remain as independent as possible for longer. It’s an incredible gift to be part of people’s big victories — and their everyday little wins, too.'”

An example of one such win was a project that gave one new centenarian an unexpected moment of joy at Plush Mills. “I remember celebrating a resident’s 100th birthday,” says Wilhelmsen. “She had no family and not many friends. The week before her birthday, we sent around note cards to all the residents and had them fill in their well wishes. We ordered 100 helium balloons and hung a card on each balloon in the lobby. She was so surprised and grateful and could not stop talking about that day.”

The work of creating happiness for others can be fun, too. “I also will never forget our flash mob dance at Plush Mills,” says Wilhelmsen. “About 50 employees, all dressed in matching t-shirts, danced at a resident event. The residents’ reactions were priceless, but the time we spent practicing for the dance was the best part! The staff we work with is diverse, hardworking, and compassionate, and it was great to share a silly project with such wonderful people.”

Different Paths

Some people discover an affinity for working with seniors early in life. Executive Director Amanda Gill at Village Crossing at Worman’s Mill in Frederick, Md., was taught to value and celebrate older adults from a very early age.

Amanda Gill

Amanda Gill, executive director at Village Crossing at Worman’s Mill

“We were always involved in the lives of my grandparents and older family members,” she explains. “My best friend to this day is my 99-year-old grandmother. She has always taught me that age does not limit or define you. I saw her being active, well into her retirement years – chairing committees, volunteering at her church, tutoring at the local library, and chasing after her four grandchildren! When I decided to get my first job at 16 years old, I found that working as a dining server at the nearby retirement community was the perfect fit.”

Gill enjoyed getting to know the residents, and discovered that they were invested in her growth and success. In college, she explored the new field of gerontology and found it was a natural fit for her, and earned a master’s in gerontology to help her on her career path.

Parrish Phillips

Parrish Phillips, general manager of The 501 at Mattison Estate

Other people choose a career in senior living draw after they have extensive experience in other fields. Parrish Phillips, the General Manager of The 501 at Mattison Estate in Ambler, Pa., spent more than 20 years in the hospitality industry, where he enjoyed making people feel welcome and comfortable, while anticipating their needs — but something was missing.

“I reached a point to where I no longer was driven by purpose,” he says. “I wanted to help others and make a difference in people’s lives. Senior living gives me the ability to do that every single day and I’m so thankful I made the career change.”

Wilhelmsen agrees that working with seniors can offer a deeper level of professional gratification. “We have the opportunity to work amongst various populations and make a real difference. The seniors in our communities have a wealth of experience, stories, and hardships and love to share them.”

Gill contemplates the time she spends getting to know the seniors who live at Village Crossing at Worman’s Mill and she knows that she chose the right career for her.

“Every day, I learn something new from the residents,” she says. “They enhance my life way more than I enhance theirs.”

This article was also highlighted via the following publications:


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