Interested in Caregiving? 7 Things to Know Beforehand

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Are you interested in becoming a professional caregiver? Maybe you’re taking care of a parent and wonder about getting paid. Learn about the types of caregivers, training requirements and other things to know if you’re interested in caregiving.

Interested in Caregiving? 7 Things to Know Beforehand

From picking up groceries to monitoring blood pressure, caregivers perform a range of duties. Here are seven things to know if you’re interested in caregiving.

What is a Caregiver?

A caregiver assists someone who is older, disabled or has special needs. Responsibilities include meal preparation, companionship and personal care. Home healthcare aides also provide medical help, such as administering medication and checking vital signs.

Types of Caregivers

Professional caregivers work in a variety of settings. These include private homes, assisted living communities, outpatient clinics, rehab facilities and nursing homes.

A caregiver’s responsibilities include:

  • Helping with personal care, such as bathing, grooming and dressing.
  • Providing companionship, such as escorting a client to appointments.
  • Light homemaking services such as doing laundry, making meals or tidying the kitchen.
  • Home health aides do need special training. They monitor a person’s vital signs, and physical and mental condition. Their training enables them to cope with emergencies like an accident or a heart attack.

Qualities of a Good Caregiver

Not everyone has the temperament to be a caregiver. Here are the qualities of a good caregiver:

  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Flexibility
  • Cheerfulness
  • Patience
  • Assertiveness
  • Communication skills

Most lists of caregiver qualities don’t mention one of the most important qualities–ability to remain calm under pressure. Caring for patients with memory loss can mean dealing with dementia-related outbursts.

Getting Started as a Caregiver

There are plenty of online resources to help you understand the role and connect with other care providers. While the content below targets family caregivers, there is useful information for anyone. Here are a few online resources for new caregivers.

National Institute on Aging

For a full catalog of articles to show caregivers how to support an aging adult, visit the National Institute on Aging. There’s also advice on long-distance caregiving, long-term care and planning for aging family members.

Family Caregiver Alliance

Here you’ll find tips on caring for yourself as well as for others.

Medline Plus

There is a wealth of health information on MedlinePlus. Use it to learn about the illness you are caring for as well as caregiver guidance.

If you’re caring for someone with memory loss, this site has information on the progression of the disease. It also has a directory of local organizations that help older adults who need memory care.

Training Requirements

Most home care agencies require caregivers to be certified. There are online courses to allow caregivers to meet their state’s training requirements. Training is available for companions, home health aides or certified nursing aides. Find out the training requirements for your state.

What Does it Pay?

Demand for caregivers is growing with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting 924,000 more jobs for home health and personal care aides by 2031. The median salary for this role is $29,430, ranging from $22,290 for the lowest earners to $37,010 for the top earners.

Can a Family Caregiver be Paid?

Caring for a relative or friend is time-consuming and expensive. There are 48 million unpaid family caregivers in the U.S. According to an AARP study, unpaid caregivers average 24 hours a week and spend $7200 each year on costs related to caregiving. In some circumstances, insurance pays family caregivers.

Medicaid Recipients

Medicaid recipients are allowed to pay family members for care, but the rules vary for each state. Some states exclude spouses from being paid caregivers.


Through the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, family members who live with the veteran can receive a monthly stipend. Both the veteran and family member must meet program requirements.

Through Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance usually covers the cost of home caregivers. But not all policies will pay family members to provide care. Check with your loved one’s insurance agent and ask for a confirmation of benefits.

By Agreement

If the person needing care can afford it and is of sound mind, they can choose to pay a family member. If so, the parent and adult child should draw up a personal care agreement and consult an elder care lawyer.

Are You Interested in Caregiving?

Projections show a sharp rise in caregiver jobs in the coming years. If you’d like to become a caregiver, you may need to complete training online or with an employer. Get a feel for the role through online support groups. Also consider the care setting you’d prefer, whether in-home, in a rehab facility or in a senior living community.