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Caregiving as a Career: What You Need to Know

April 30, 2015, 03:11 AM


As medical and healthcare advances have led to increases in life expectancy, the need for home and long term care for the elderly has risen dramatically. Elder care is not always a particularly medically intensive field; many of the requirements of caregiving involve assisting seniors with daily activities and acting as a companion. If you’ve ever thought about a career in elder care, now is the time to pursue it. Here’s what you need to know about becoming a professional and/or certified caregiver.

What do caregivers do?

In general, caregivers for the elderly provide support and assistance with activities of daily living (ADL) ranging from helping to clothe, bathe, feed, and groom charges to assisting with meal preparation and providing¬†medication reminders. Under the umbrella term “caregiver,” there are several positions and titles that essentially perform the same function, with slight variations for certified professionals. . Non-certified aides, home health assistants, and personal care attendants act in a non-medical capacity to provide companionship, custodial support, and help with all activities including household chores such as laundry, cleaning, and help running errands. Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and Home Health Aides (HHAs), who are trained and certified, perform those duties as well as using medical training to monitor blood pressure and check vital signs.

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by slightlyeverything via flickr

Typically, non-certified caregivers and attendants work for non-medical agencies or are hired independently by families, while certified caregivers generally work through a home care or hospice agency. All types of caregivers can work on a part- or full-time schedule or on a live-in basis, depending on the needs of the patients and your availability.

What are patients and their families looking for in a caregiver?

Leaving their loved one in the care of a stranger is a major area of concern for most families. They will want to know that their loved one is being cared for and attended to properly, with all of their needs and wants being met. If you are a kind, patient, independent, and dependable individual with the ability to genuinely and honestly care for others, professional caregiving may be a perfect career for you. Additionally, patients and their families require in their caregivers a sense of trustworthiness, maturity, discretion, and sensitivity. You should also possess the ability to openly communicate with your family employer as well as take direction and follow instructions as requested.

I want to be a caregiver! Now what?

If you think a career in caregiving is right for you, you should look into training and certification processes. Depending on which type of caregiver you choose to become, your requirements will vary, but most employers, families and agencies alike, will want you to be certified in some capacity including but not limited to CPR certification, licensing by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), credentialing based on your state’s requirements, or disease-specific experience/certification like Alzheimer’s or dementia care.

Whether you choose to work for an agency (we’re hiring!) or independently, you will be interviewed and subjected to background checks and references. During this process, it’s also your prerogative to get to know the family and ask about your patient and the specifics of the job’s requirements. view history . For your own wellbeing, it’s important to discuss and determine what tasks are expected of you. You can ask to speak to previous caretakers or other members of the family to get a better sense of your duties and its pros and cons. Make sure you are completely comfortable with and able to execute your responsibilities because, while the rewards of caring for others are immeasurable, it can be a stressful undertaking if you’re not prepared for what’s ahead.

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