Between 2000 and 2030, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to double to more than 72 million. With more and more aging Americans, a Penny Hoarder will find plenty of ways to lend a helping hand while also making some money.
Check out these careers and side jobs where you can earn a decent income while helping people — and probably hearing some fantastic stories about “the good old days.” Since many seniors are on fixed incomes, you might choose to offer your services at a reduced rate or even pro bono at times.
Here are some jobs to consider:
1. Clinic-Based Healthcare Worker
Even if you can’t stand the sight of blood, you’ll find plenty of blood-free healthcare jobs where you’ll serve an aging population, including working as a diagnostic medical sonographer or radiation therapist.
If you’re thinking about becoming a doctor, consider the fields of geriatrics or gerontology.
Optometry is another branch of healthcare in need of qualified professionals who can help seniors manage their vision needs, fit glasses and deal with age-related eye diseases and other problems that may arise.
2. Home Healthcare Aide
When seniors are at home but need a little extra help, home health aides can help provide the care needed to keep them safe and comfortable. Home health aides and personal care aides are two of the nation’s fastest growing careers, with a nearly 70% increase in jobs projected by 2020.
In one of these fields, you would provide a wide variety of services, including treating wounds, preventing bedsores, monitoring vital signs and providing necessary injections and other health care services. Average full-time salaries in these fields are in the $20,000 range.
3. Wealth Manager
Along with retirement comes a whole array of financial issues to consider, including when to retire, providing for your financial needs in retirement, and navigating pensions, 401(k)s and social security, just to name a few. Many seniors are also looking to plan for the future, including setting up trust and wills.
Becoming a financial advisor or wealth manager can be a lucrative way to help people out. GlassDoor reports the average wealth manager earns over $88,000 a year.
4. Retirement Community Recreation Director
Many retirement communities and nursing homes hire recreation directors to put together activities for residents to help people interact, socialize and engage their minds. Typical recreation activities include everything from outings (such as watching a play or a concert) to bingo nights to movie screenings to coffee socials.
If you like socializing and interacting with seniors and have good organization skills, why not approach retirement communities and see if they have a need for someone to coordinate these types of events?
5. Lawn Care Worker or Gardener
Once you reach a certain age, it’s difficult to fire up the mower or grab the hedge trimmer and keep your lawn and plants looking great. Raking fall leaves can also become a hazard, and many seniors are looking for help to keep everything looking nice.
Consider going into the lawn-care business, which is a great side job. As a landscaper or lawn care worker, you can typically charge $25-50 an hour depending on the services you provide, with more difficult and labor-intensive services at the upper end of the scale (or even higher for more technical or equipment-heavy jobs).
6. Gutter Cleaner
Climbing up on a ladder to scoop leaves and debris out of gutters is a chore that many people dread. But, if you’re up there in years, it can be even more difficult to do this chore safely. This is why many seniors hire people to clean their gutters so water can drain properly and they can avoid costly leaks and water damage.
The size of the house and number of gutters to be cleaned is a key factor in pricing for this task, but cleaning out the gutters on most average houses should earn you somewhere in the $100-200 range. This is a great way to make a little cash on the weekends and help people out.
7. Snow Shoveler
This past winter was a snowy one for many; Boston alone received more than 108 inches of the white stuff. During winter storms, crews are hard at work keeping streets plowed, but it’s up to individual homeowners to keep their properties, including walkways, steps and porches, clear and passable. In some areas, residents are required to keep the sidewalk in front of their homes clear as well.
Many seniors are eager to hire people to help with shoveling and applying ice melt to help keep things safe. You can typically earn $25-75 per hour shoveling snow.
8. Housekeeper or House Cleaner
Bending over to scrub the bathtub and dust the baseboards becomes harder with age. This is why many seniors look for people to help them out around the house with everything from the light-duty tasks, such as dusting, to the down-and-dirty heavy work, such as deep cleaning. Even climbing a step stool to change a high lightbulb is something that can be challenging for seniors, as many medications and conditions can make people dizzy and cause problems with balance and dexterity.
You can earn $15-25 per hour or more as a housekeeper, but many people work out a fixed price for a weekly cleaning, depending on the size of the home and the tasks involved.
Everyone loves a home-cooked meal, but standing in the kitchen and chopping and concocting meals can be a challenge for people who have a hard time standing for long or who may have arthritic fingers that can’t grasp a knife quite like they used to. But people still love to eat, and home-cooked meals are great for providing nutrition and boosting morale.
Services like Meals on Wheels bring meals and companionship to seniors, but some may need more assistance and want to hire someone to come to their home and cook meals several times a week (or more) for them. Work with the seniors to set up a meal plan that fits their preferences, nutritional needs, and any special dietary guidelines.
10. Errand Runner
Leaving the house can be challenging for many seniors, especially in the winter, when ice and snow make sidewalks treacherous. However, people still need to get groceries and pick up birthday gifts for their grandchildren (and wait in line at the post office to mail them).
By running errands for seniors, you can help them get what they need and make a little cash on the side. Consider running errands for a few different individuals and consolidating your trips or offering your services in a retirement community.
As people age, many have to give up driving when their senses and reflexes can’t quite keep up. But non-driving seniors still want to get out and about from time to time, whether to head to church or a family event or go to an important doctor’s appointment.
12. Tech Tutor
With far-flung children and grandchildren, and families spread all over, many seniors want to learn about technology to connect and communicate with their loved ones.
Consider teaching seniors how to use different types of technology, from mastering the art of the iPhone to Skyping with the great-grandkids. Or, even just the basics, such as turning a computer on and checking the weather. These skills help seniors interact with loved ones and the world.
Your Turn: Do you work with seniors? We’d love to hear about your job in the comments!
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.