Working in the long-term care profession has allowed Jennifer Hissam to have meaningful relationships with the elderly.
“To be a part of later years with older adults has meant the world to me,” says Jennifer, who explains that she lost her dad at a young age. “My children have not had the experience of having my dad as a grandpa; then I bring them to work, and they’ve had multiple grandmas and grandpas. Personally, that’s been the most rewarding thing for me ever.”
As Senior Living Housing Director of Good Samaritan Society-Westview Acres in Waconia, Jennifer emphasizes educating the younger generation to prepare for a boom in Minnesota’s senior population. By 2030, one in four Minnesota adults will be 65 or older. That means Minnesota will need 25,000 more caregivers over the next decade.
“We can’t teach someone to have a caring heart – you can’t build that – but you can teach them the importance of caregiving,” says Jennifer.
Jennifer points out that Minnesota is not only facing a growing need for professional caregivers, but also a growing need for a variety of care and services, such as adult day care, home health care services, transportation and grocery delivery.
“People are staying home longer and by the time they are coming to our community, they’re coming sicker,” Jennifer says. “If you have a community with independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled care, people are coming in and moving through it much faster. So we have to have skilled caregivers to be able to provide all those levels of care.”
According to Jennifer, no matter what kind of lives seniors have led, it is deeply rewarding to provide high-quality care for people at the end of their lives.
For those considering the caregiving profession, there are many career opportunities, including scholarships, Jennifer says.
“Someone could start as a 16-year-old in dietary or as an 18-year-old as a nursing assistant and apply for scholarships, go to college, get that RN degree or become a dietician … and make it a lifetime career.”