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Elderly caregivers provide companionship, living assistance, and basic medical services for older citizens who are no longer able to care for themselves. The requirements to become an elderly caregiver can vary between regions and employers, but most workers need to hold high school diplomas and complete a series of training courses before working directly with clients. In addition, special licensure and certification are needed for some positions in home health companies, assisted living facilities, and government agencies.
A person who wants to become an elderly caregiver should carefully consider the responsibilities of the job. Elder care is generally not a high-paying career, but most people who enter the profession do so for the personal fulfillment that comes with helping others rather than the monetary rewards. An individual who enjoys spending time with older adults, making conversation, cooking meals, and performing housework is generally well suited for the position. It is important for an elderly caregiver to be able to empathize with clients, understanding the struggles they face and realizing how much earnest companionship can enhance their daily lives.
An individual who believes he or she possesses the necessary skills to become an elderly caregiver can look into entry-level opportunities at home health companies and assisted living facilities. Job openings can be found by browsing newspaper ads, visiting job search websites, and directly contacting potential employers. Applications and resumes should emphasize experience related to personal care, including time spent with an elderly loved one, babysitting, or volunteer work at a local nursing home.
Most employers will hire new workers with little or no previous experience in the field, so long as they can prove that they are physically and emotionally capable of the work. A person who is given the opportunity to become an elderly caregiver can expect to spend several weeks in classroom, online, and on-the-job training to learn about specific company policies and protocol. Most companies offer personal and guided online courses in first aid, basic care techniques, emergency procedures, safety, and confidentiality. Upon completion of classwork, an individual usually has the chance to accompany an experienced caregiver on his or her shift to learn more about the job.
A successful trainee is allowed to start working under supervision with clients. Company rules or regional laws determine the length of a supervised probationary period, but most new professionals can start working independently within about two weeks. Some regions grant licensure to new workers who complete all training requirements to help them find other caregiver jobs in the future. In addition, organizations such as the National Association for Home Care and Hospice in the United States provide voluntary certification to new caregivers. A person who is able to become an elderly caregiver and gain experience in the field may be able to advance within a company to an administrative or supervisory position in time.