9 Things You Should Know About Becoming a Caregiver

senior and her caregiver

There are approximately 76 Million Baby Boomers in the US. As this generation ages, there is a greater need for caregivers.

Becoming a caregiver is as rewarding as it is demanding. There are also many paths into the field, as a volunteer, non-medical, skilled caregiver or care companion. 

Read on to learn 9 interesting facts about this rewarding career and how you can become a caregiver.

9 Interesting Facts About Being a Caregiver

  1. According to Tom Brokaw, the generation in the most need of support is The Greatest Generation. These individuals survived World War II, an event that shaped global history. If you have seen any of Mr. Brokaw’s reports on them, you will be inspired, imagine spending your days with them and learning from their experiences first hand.
  2. Caregivers must care for themselves first. This may seem a bit contradictory, but caregiving is tough work and burnout is common. By caring for others, you can learn better self-care techniques and apply them to yourself. Try these tips to practice a little self-care, now.
  3. You can learn valuable life lessons. If you care for people at the end of their life it brings an increased focus to the things that are important and the things that are not.
  4. You become an educator. Some elderly have a hard time remembering simple tasks. you can feel the joy of re-teaching those activities, and the joy it brings to your client as they accomplish the tasks.
  5. You better understand the path of life and can help to ensure that your family prepares appropriately for their future caregiving needs.
  6. Caring for the elderly is hard work, however, it often results in one of the closest bonds of your lifetime.
  7. An individual who passes on lives on in you. Because of the bonds that form during caregiving, that person will live on in your memory.
  8. In some cases, Veterans and those on Medicare compensated caregivers. Longterm care insurance and individuals that planned ahead will fund the work of Caregivers. Learn more at AARP.
  9. If you are new to the field, you can learn new skills.

Steps to Becoming a Caregiver

As previously mentioned being a caregiver can be demanding. Before you jump headlong into the field you should understand the types of roles that exist and the training required at each level.

Caregiving training requirements differ from state to state and range from an 8-10 hour certification. Most states require background checks. The IRS also has specific descriptions for each category. Learn more here about the tax implication of caregiving as a profession.

NOTE: Anyone with a caregiving role should at a minimum be CPR and First Aid certified.

A Volunteer Caregiver

The easiest way to experience life as a caregiver is to volunteer.

Offer your assistance to a friend or family member who is acting as a caregiver. You can give them a break from their duties at the same time experiencing what your life may look like if you decide to embark on this career path.

In this instance set boundaries and write up an agreement.  In all caregiving situations, communication is key. Situations and needs will change over time, you want to understand how that is communicated and what will happen if the needs of the individual you are caring for exceeds your skills.

Volunteer at a hospital or nursing facility, it requires background checks and facility-specific training but offers l a more structured understanding of the field.

Non-Skilled Caregivers

Non Skilled or Non-medical caregivers have a limited amount of duties due to their lack of advanced medical training. Typically they make $15-$25 an hour and more on holidays and weekends.

Here are the typical duties of a non-medical or non-skilled caregiver:

  1. Home Management and Care Planning. You may be asked to coordinate home management, pay the landscaper, house cleaner, or delivery people.  You may also be asked to plan care, by managing a schedule of multiple people. For example, who is taking the individual to the doctor, who will be the caregiver on the weekend, etc. Depending on your skills you may be asked to perform some of these activities yourself.
  2. Medical Advocacy. Typically attending and scheduling appointments.
  3. Prescription Medication Management
  4. Help with Personal Hygiene and Care
  5. Assisting with Meals and Nutrition
  6. Help with Mobility. If you are performing this task you should ensure that you have the proper training to prevent injuries to yourself or them.
  7. Transportation
  8. Keeping Them Company. This is the most rewarding part of any caregivers job.
  9. Financial Accountability. You may be asked to help with checkbook or money management responsibilities. 
  10. Reporting and Monitoring. This means watching out for “red flags” that denote deterioration of a medical condition or in the worst case abuse of the person for whom you are caring.

This list isn’t exhaustive nor is it static. As the health of the individual changes, their caregiving needs will as well.

Companion Caregivers

A companion caregiver can be a volunteer or non-skilled caregiver. Companion Caregivers are a formal employment category recognized by the IRS.

Skilled Caregivers

Imagine coming home each day from your work as a skilled caregiver with a sense of satisfaction and pride.

Skilled Care Givers

Certified Nursing Assistants or CNA’s require state-specific training and a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Each state sets standards for training, competency evaluation, and maintains a registry and meet the federal minimum. Be sure to check the CNA program you choose against your state’s nursing board.

For Some, the Path to Becoming a Caregiver Is Not Planned

Whether out of family loyalty or financial necessity, many more individuals are taking on the position of caregiver for a family member.

In this case, there are steps to take to ensure that this is a positive experience and not a negative one.

Next Steps into This Rewarding Career

As you progress along with your career as a caregiver, it is important to care for yourself as well. 

Keep browsing through our blog to learn more tips about being a caregiver.