Is Caregiving a Real Job?

Yes, caregiving is as real a job as a cashier or a lawyer. An aspiring caregiver can opt for training, certification, and even college degree programs. Although the criteria for becoming a professional caregiver varies from state to state, the basic skills needed are more of the same. 

If caregiving is a recognized professional, why do some people wonder if it is a real job? Because one can provide care to a family member, relative, or friend without being a professional. Folks who take upon this role are called informal or family caregivers.

What Is Informal or Family Caregiving?

An informal or family caregiver is a person who provides free of cost care to a family member in need. Most often, the person in need is an elder with a health condition such as dementia or physical disability (temporary or permanent). 

Unlike a professional caregiver, an informal caregiver has a personal relationship with the person in need. The caregiver could be a son, daughter, spouse, or a friend of the person in need. 

An informal caregiver offers unpaid help to the person in need. Although it is not uncommon for family members to have certain financial arrangements in return for care. 

Presence of Informal Caregivers in the United States

According to a 2020 survey done by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), there has been a rise in young (18-45 years) caregivers in the United States. 

The numbers in 2020 are 7 percent higher when compared to a 2015 study.

Furthermore, almost half of the caregivers who were surveyed reported that they hired a professional caregiver to take care of their loved ones when they were away. 

47 percent of the participants were the sole caregivers to their loved one. A small percentage of participants (12 percent) managed to share the responsibility of caregiving with other members of the family. 

In conclusion, almost half of the participants were informal caregivers. It is not known whether they offered full-time care to their loved one or had a day job alongside. But they performed the caregiving-related tasks without charging a penny.

Do I Need a College Degree to Become an Informal or Family Caregiver?

No, you do not need a college degree to become an informal caregiver. Also, you don’t need to be certified. Informal or family caregivers can always use the internet to learn about the tasks and responsibilities involved in caring for an elderly family member. 

What Qualifications Are Required to Become a Professional Caregiver?

Caregiver in a nursing home

The qualifications needed to become a professional caregiver to an Alzheimer’s or Dementia-affected senior varies from state to state. Having said that, some courses are recognized worldwide. Completing one of these courses will definitely help you get started in your journey as a professional caregiver. 

Here are some professional caregiver courses:

  • Personal Care Assistant (PCA)
  • Home Health Aide (HHA)
  • Patient Care Assistant (PCA)
  • National Caregiver Certification Course (NCCC)
  • National Assisted Living Manager Certification (NALMCC) 
  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Takeaway – Is Caregiving a Real Job?

Whether you are caring for an aging family member or a client with dementia, the level of difficulty is the same. Both are jobs, one is unpaid and another is paid. Furthermore, both informal and formal caregivers need certain traits. They need to be calm, caring, and understanding.

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