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Becoming a Caregiver

becoming a caregiver

A significant number of people need regular assistance with activities of daily living, medication management, and meeting their needs in general. Many aging adults today want to age in place but need help with everyday activities.

If you or your loved one require someone to assist you with day-to-day activities, you can hire a formal caregiver or have a family member, friend, or neighbor volunteer as a caregiver. Formal caregivers such as certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are paid for their care in a home or facility care setting (nursing homes, residential homes, etc.).

Also, it is estimated that over 15 million people in the United States are informal caregivers for a family member with dementia. While you can look after a loved one as an unpaid caregiver, many people decide to become paid caregivers to their spouses, parents, or other family members.

Some US states have state programs that pay spouses as caregivers or paid family leave to care for a spouse. 

However, suppose you want to become a paid caregiver. In that case, you need to obtain caregiving training that will help you better assist the client with their activities of daily living (ADLs) and equip you with effective stress-coping strategies. 

Is Caregiver a Good Job?

In addition to receiving a salary for their job, caregivers learn new skills, expand their knowledge, receive appreciation, and gain valuable experience. As a caregiver, you also receive gratitude and satisfaction knowing that you are helping others lead better lives. 

You can also translate valuable medical and social skills you learn as a caregiver to your relationships and everyday life.  

How Do I Become a Caregiver: What Training Do You Need to Be a Caregiver?

The training you need to become a caregiver depends on the type of caregiver you want to become. 

A Volunteer Caregiver

To become a volunteer caregiver for a family member, you can attend an online caregiving course to gain valuable skills and learn more about the person’s condition.   

Also, many community resources offer valuable information and training for caregivers and opportunities to meet with other caregivers. This allows you to exchange experiences, talk about your feelings and caregiving challenges, and develop a helpful support system. 

Being a caregiver is a rewarding but also very challenging job. Caregiver training can help you develop helpful self-care strategies build strong coping tactics to manage caregiver stress and avoid burnout.

A Non-Medical Caregiver

You can work as a non-medical caregiver independently or through an agency. Caregiving training requirements are different in different states. While some US states require no certification, others recommend or require eight- or ten-hour certification.

A non-medical caregiver provides personal care, respite care, and companionship to an aging adult in their home or a nursing home. They provide a company to a senior and help with light housekeeping and other duties, assisting with personal care like feeding, dressing, bathing. However, these duties cannot comprise more than 20 percent of their total caregiving duties.

A Skilled Caregiver

To become a skilled caregiver or a certified nursing assistant (CAN), you must be 18 years of age and older. Also, if you are going to take care of a dementia patient, you must have previous experience caring for someone with dementia of 15 hours per week one year. You also have to be trained in dementia care and need to pass an exam to become a Certified Alzheimer’s Caregiver. 

Skilled caregiver training requirements are different in each state, although all states regulate CNAs and maintain a registry. There are the federal minimum standards for training and competency evaluation (75 hours), but different states set different training requirements. All CNAs also need a high school diploma. 

What are the Four Types of Caregivers?

Caregivers can provide assistance in four types of settings. These include home healthcare, adult daycare centers, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.

Home Healthcare

Home healthcare allows you to provide caregiving services to older adults in the comfort of their homes. Typically, home care caregivers offer flexible services, varying from a few hours weekly to round-the-clock care. 

Adult Daycare Centers

Adult daycare centers provide care for aging adults that consist of medical, social, and personal services in a community-based setting. 

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities provide various social programs and care services in a community setting for their residents who lead active lives and don’t require care continually.

Nursing Homes

Aging adults in nursing homes typically suffer from acute illness or injury that prevents them from living independently. Nursing homes offer short-term rehabilitative care and long-term care for chronic diseases, so caregivers usually provide care for patients who are bedbound and require assistance with activities of daily living.

How Much Does It Cost to Be a Certified Caregiver?

As most states require certification (eight to ten hours of training for caregivers), expect to pay a $59 state certification cost. However, you can also get national certification for $79. Both options require you to complete online caregiver training and take an exam at the end of your training. 

Some states also require an additional license in order to work as a certified caregiver.

What is the Difference between a Caretaker and a Caregiver?

A caregiver is a person who supports another person by providing physical, emotional, psychological care in a client’s own home or a facility as a live-in caregiver, on visiting basis, or as an employee at the facility. 

A caretaker also supports a client’s inanimate objects such as personal property or house and provides personal care and attention. 

How Do I Find a Trustworthy Caregiver?

Many aging adults require intensive 24/7 care, so nursing homes are sometimes the best option. However, many seniors decide to age at home. In-home caregivers provide care that allows aging adults to continue the usual routine at their homes.

Finding a trustworthy person to take care of your loved one is not an easy task. However, here are some tips to help you find a reliable and responsible caregiver.

  • Appoint an Interview with the Potential Caregiver

While interweaves with prospective caregivers may take time, this is the best way to get to know the person who will potentially take care of your loved one and gather as much information as possible about their abilities and competencies. 

  • Ask for References and Past Experience

References can be a valuable source of information about a caregiver as people who are happy with caregiving services will be eager to recommend that person. Anyway, a potential caregiver who is not willing or able to provide references certainly calls for caution.  

Also, review a person’s experience to learn how long they have been performing caregiving services.

  • Ask friends for Referrals.

It is always a good idea to ask for referrals from people you know and trust. These can be your family and friends, coworkers, people in your medical community, physicians, etc.

What is the Difference between a Caregiver and a Home Health Aide?

A skilled caregiver or a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and home health aide (HHA) provide companionship and personal care for patients, helping their clients with activities of daily living. 

The critical difference between a certified nursing assistant and a home health aide involves their responsibilities medication-wise. While a home health aide can administer medication, the certified nursing assistant cannot do so. 

Also, the CNA typically works in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other facilities, while the HHA usually provides care in the client’s home. CNAs can work in the patient’s home. However, home health aides don’t work in organizational healthcare settings.

What Makes Someone a Great Caregiver?

Some caregivers provide round-the-clock care for another person. Therefore, a great caregiver must have patience, compassion, and empathy. 

Although providing care to a loved one can be rewarding, it can also drain you emotionally, mentally, and physically. Caregiver stress can leave you feeling frustrated, exhausted, angry, or sad, so knowing what makes someone a great caregiver can help you successfully perform caregiving tasks.

  • Empathy

A great caregiver has the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, understanding the needs of a person they care for. They can easily detect changes in a person’s mood, energy level, and discomfort they experience.

  • Patience

A good caregiver is flexible and patient, with an excellent understanding of a person’s changes in mood and behavior. They accept that the person they care for can become easily irritated, uncooperative, or in severe pain, flexibly adapting to these transitions.   

  • Reliability

A great caregiver is committed and available to a person they provide care for. They don’t let personal problems affect their work, keeping private matters separate from their job.

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