There are many different types of caregivers. Many family caregivers are not formally trained but through experience and sheer determination become very skilled in meeting their loved one’s needs and become a vital part of their care team. Paid caregivers also vary in training and credentials. The type of caregiver you need for your loved one will depend on their physical and medical needs as well as preferences. The basic categories of caregivers are as follows:

Companions are helpers who can perform homemaking duties (meal preparation, laundry, linen changes, light housekeeping, etc.) and may transport clients on community outings (i.e. the grocery store, doctor appointments) and perhaps most importantly most importantly provide joyful companionship for lonely seniors while serving as “eyes and ears” for family who may not be able to be there. They are not formally trained in assisting with Activities of Daily Living and therefore are not permitted to give hands-on assistance to their clients. Should hands on assistance be needed, a Certified Aide would be appropriate.

Certified Aides, in addition to being capable of providing the same services as a companion, also have received training to provide hands-on care, such as assistance with bathing, hygiene, dressing, and ambulation. The training and credentialing process can vary state to state, but generally there is the requirement of at least a 1-week course taught by a licensed nurse. Neither certified aides nor companions are allowed to organize or dispense medication, only give prompting to a client to take prescriptions.

Nurses have undergone formal education and training. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) have completed 1-2 years of formal education which usually includes internships in hospitals or nursing homes. Registered Nurses (RNs) have performed at least a 4 year higher education program. Both require licensure by a state Board of Nursing. Nurses can perform a number of duties that certified aides cannot, such as prefilling medication boxes, administering injectables and intravenous medications, wound care, and changing catheters.

See our Nov 2017 blog about Private Caregivers Vs. Agency Employees for more information about finding a qualified caregiver for yourself of your loved one.

About the Author: Pam Reynolds, CMC is the President and co-owner of Allegiance Aging Care Services. Pam has spent almost fifteen years working in senior care including long term care facilities and home health care. Her higher education is in Social Work, and she has been credentialed as both a certified Geriatric Care Manager and Licensed Assisted Living Administrator. Read more about Pam and her team of Aging Care Professionals here



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