Senior Living Careers: What it Means to Be A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) are truly the heart of care in a senior living community. A CNA has a huge variety of roles, all of which are integral within the healthcare field. Senior living communities are no exception, and CNA’s are virtually essential to any senior care environment. Since they are hands-on with residents every single day, being a CNA means getting to know senior living residents and forming a close caretaker relationship with them.  This can make for a very fulfilling and rewarding career. In this post, we’ll explore what role a CNA plays in a Senior Living Community, how to become a CNA, what qualities senior living employers are looking for, and how to apply for jobs at Stellar Living Communities. 


The Multifaceted Role of a Senior Living CNA


As we’ve mentioned, CNA’s are vital to the success of any senior living community. In a senior living community, a CNA usually helps with activities of daily living (ADLs). This can include:

  • Assisting with bathing, dressing, and hygiene
  • Mobility assistance
  • Medication management and administering medications
  • Some medical care, like monitoring blood pressure, oxygen levels, and insulin levels
  • Feeding assistance, if necessary
  • Responding to other needs of residents as they arise
  • Assisting with physical, occupational, and/or speech therapy
  • Maintaining cleanliness and organization within the community
  • Documenting care and reporting incidents or needs of residents


A CNA in a senior living community really focuses on the residents as whole people, and addresses their daily physical, emotional, and social needs. Your exact duties can vary depending on the community, so make sure to ask questions and read the job description carefully. 


How to Become a CNA


Becoming a CNA is faster and easier than becoming a registered nurse (RN) or other roles in the healthcare field. Usually, you’ll need a GED or high school diploma to begin. Then, you’ll take a state-approved CNA training course. These courses usually take around 4-12 weeks. Once you complete the program, you’ll take a state certification test.  And that’s it!


Many states require you to get some experience before you can qualify for a more advanced CNA certification. You will also need to renew your certification periodically, typically every 2 years, and you may need to participate in continuing education to maintain your certification. 


Some employees at long-term care facilities can take the CNA course and test for free. Most states also have a variety of other free CNA training programs. Check with your employer or potential employer to see what your options are.


Skills and Qualities of a Successful Senior Living CNA


Once you’ve become a CNA, you’ll need to know if you’re a good fit in a senior living community. Here are a few of the important skills and qualities you’ll need to be successful as a senior living CNA. These are also some of the things employers will be looking for when deciding whether or not to hire you at their senior living community.


  • Patience. Working with the elderly requires patience, particularly when it comes to Alzhheimer’s, dementia, or other memory disorders. 
  • Empathy. You’ll need empathy to be able to relate to the residents in your care and build a caregiving relationship with them. 
  • Communication. To succeed as a CNA, you need strong communication skills both with the residents in your care and with your employers and supervisors. 
  • Flexibility. You never know what your day might contain as a senior living CNA, so you need to be able to be flexible and able to adapt to constantly changing situations.
  • Quick thinking. Sometimes, you might need to react in a medical emergency situation, especially if you’re a CNA in a skilled nursing community. You’ll have to think on your feet and respond quickly and effectively.


Challenges and Rewards of Being a Senior Living CNA


Being a senior living CNA comes with both challenges and rewards. You might face emotional challenges in this job, because you will sometimes be caring for those in the end stages of their lives. Therefore, loss may be part of the job, and losing a resident you have cared for can be emotionally taxing. Caring for seniors with dementia or memory loss disorders can feel overwhelming, because you will need to provide extensive support in all aspects of life. Seniors with these and other disorders can sometimes also be prone to mood swings, personality changes, or erratic behavior. This could be a test of your patience and emotional resiliency. 


There are also physical challenges as a CNA, because you may be assisting someone with mobility, feeding, bathing, dressing, etc. This might mean heavy lifting, among other things. 


However, there are also enormous rewards to being a senior living CNA. The deep emotional connection you form with the residents can be hugely fulfilling and rewarding. You’ll be confident that in this career, you’ll make a substantial and personal improvement to someone’s quality of life. You will be caring for those that no one else is able to care for and providing a service that is desperately needed. 


This career is also exciting and ever-changing, with the need to stay current with constant advances in medical and psychological science. You certainly won’t experience the long-term boredom that many people with “desk jobs” experience. 


Getting a Job as a Senior Living CNA


If you’ve become qualified as a CNA and decide to work in a senior living community, your next step is finding a job. This might be easier than you expect, because this is a growing field and many senior living communities are looking for CNA’s.


To apply to be a CNA at a top-of-the-line Stellar Living Community, visit this website and check for availability within the “Healthcare/Medical” roles. You’ll see many CNA and CNA-In-Training positions available all over the United States.


Other options for finding a job as a senior living CNA include sites like Indeed or ZipRecruiter. You can also contact senior living communities in your area and ask if they are hiring for a CNA or CNA-In-Training position.


What it Means to Be a Stellar Senior Living CNA


As you can see, being a CNA is a dynamic and expansive role that is essential to any senior living community. You can become a CNA by taking a short training course, which could be free for you, and then passing a state certification exam. Once you become a CNA, you’ll need patience and adaptability, and you might face some physical and emotional challenges, but you’ll also experience an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling career experience. 

Stellar Living CNA’s are known for their personal and dedicated care to our residents. Tour a Stellar Living Community near you today and see what it’s like to be a CNA at any of our amazing communities.