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April 14, 2023

The Rock Creek Senior Living Executive Director Shares How She Got Her Start in Senior Living

Category: Senior Living

Author: Hannah Dannewitz, Executive Director

Senior living has certainly changed over the past decade. An industry that once provided very little hands-on care has blossomed into a wonderful option for older adults. It now provides varying levels of assistance with residents’ activities of daily living, while arranging many opportunities for socialization and community. I am fortunate to work for Arrow Senior Living leading the Rock Creek Senior Living team. I would like to share a little about my journey to becoming a senior living leader.

While in high school, I had enough credits to graduate early, but my school paid for me to go half days at the local college. I took classes in health care and received my advanced Certified Nurse’s Assistant (CNA) while still a senior. My CNA clinicals had a big effect on me. The experience of shadowing in a state funded memory care community, where the resident care was subpar, stuck with me.

My own paternal grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, while I was in my late teens. I wish I had the knowledge then I have now, to have provided support to her and my family.

Entering my freshman year of college, my mind was made up. I needed to go into senior living. I thought, “these people need help.” Throughout my undergrad degree I worked as a CNA, volunteered at all the surrounding senior living communities, and did an internship at a local continuing care retirement community. These experiences continued to affirm I was in the right field, and I got a much bigger picture of what senior living could look like.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in health services leadership, I went on to a graduate school program in gerontology. I worked doing research for the program while in school and made contacts with many local aging interest organizations. After finishing grad school, it was time to work in senior living full time! I had been planning for this moment for years. Although senior living can have its challenges like any industry, I have never regretted my career path.

This field is very rewarding. I can’t imagine having a regular 9-5 job. I consider it more of a calling or purpose than simply a job. I truly feel like I make a difference every day. I can see the positive changes I help bring forth affecting my staff, residents, and community, which keeps me going.

Arrow Senior Living is a great organization to work for if you’re interested in senior living. With locations spreading across the country, there is ample opportunity to grow. Arrow fosters growth from within instead of only pulling outside candidates. Leadership is transparent and always working towards industry growth.

In the coming months and years smaller communities will be purchased, go out of business, or be consolidated. Senior living communities will need to be part of a larger organization, like Arrow, to survive. We will continue to see more diversity in community residents and power of attorneys as family dynamics continue to change.

I would tell someone considering a career in senior living management that leadership is an honor and a responsibility. Great leaders don’t care about being in charge! To me, senior living management is a privilege. I get to make a difference in people’s lives. Leadership in senior living management cannot be about the role itself, it is about the common goal.

Arrow Senior Living and I invite you to reach out and learn more about a career in senior living. Working in this industry can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Whether you’re interested in caregiving, management, or another aspect of senior living, there are a wide variety of roles available that allow you to make a positive impact on the lives of older adults and their families.

Rock Creek Senior Living in Ankeny, IA offers senior villas, independent senior apartments, assisted living, and memory care with a variety of services and a range of floor plan options. Amenities include restaurant dining, 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, transportation services, and more. Centrally located near Mercy One Medical Center with convenient access to major shopping centers and attractions, including Briarwood Golf, The District Shopping Center, Saylorville Lake Marina, Big Creek State Park, and Ankeny Community Theater.

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