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How to Become a Caregiver

Summary: Becoming a caregiver means educating yourself and making plans with your family. There are several different requirements which vary from state to state that may matter for both professional and family caregivers. Over time, you’ll progress through each stage of caregiving and improve your skills along the way. Estimated Read Time: 31 mins

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Table of Contents:

  1. How To Become a Caregiver for a Family Member
  2. What Do I Need To Be a Caregiver?
  3. How To Become a Licensed Caregiver in Your State
  4. Stages of Caregiving
  5. How To Be a Good Caregiver

Learning how to become a caregiver for the elderly is an ongoing process. When you are first taking on the role of a caregiver for senior, you’re going to face a variety of barriers as most family members are ill-prepared to take on this responsibility. It’s important not to get overwhelmed as you are not alone; resources are available, and it’s all a part of the journey.

Becoming a caregiver involves many different steps. Even those with medical experience can find that being a family caregiver is a difficult place to be. At the end of the day, even if you have the skills and knowledge for care, it can be a huge undertaking to care for another.

However, with the right resources, planning, and support system, being an elderly caregiver for your family members doesn’t have to be a burden you face alone. Below, we’re breaking down what you need to know on how to become a caregiver for a family member.

How To Become a Caregiver for a Family Member

Family caregivers need to be prepared to handle a variety of tasks, but this is often challenging as many are facing limited resources. When you are a professional caregiver, you’ll have several caregiver requirements that are mandated by your state. Family caregivers, on the other hand, are left to learn the skills they need on their own.

Rather than taking formal classes, many seek out the information and resources on their own.

Here is how becoming an elderly caregiver breaks down:

Educate Yourself on the Duties of a Caregiver

The first step when becoming an elderly caregiver is educating yourself on what is necessary for your patient. Everyone has unique health needs, and you’re going to need to know what kind of care is required, where you can find credible resources to assist you, and the responsibilities you’re taking on.

Some key considerations are going to hinge on what your loved one is diagnosed with. For example, someone suffering from Alzheimer’s will likely have different needs than someone who is recovering from a stroke. While the specifics will change, here are a few universal areas all family caregivers will likely need to educate themselves:

  • Know the specific risks and type of care needed for your loved one’s healthcare. This can include everything from the type of specialists they need access to, exercises to conduct at home, type of medication, and more.
  • You’re also going to need to understand their needs that aren’t directly tied to healthcare. For example, assisting a loved one in setting up healthcare appointments, making sure they have the right benefits, ensuring their bills are covered, etc.
  • Understanding the resources and programs available in your area is also important. Becoming a caregiver requires having support around you and the proper resources to access when necessary.
  • It’s also important to make sure that your ducks are in a row as a family caregiver. This means setting up necessary permissions as needed, such as legal access to bank accounts, power of attorney, and anything else that may be needed.

Ultimately, the duties of a caregiver are going to encompass providing a wide range of needs as needed for loved ones.

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Develop a Plan of Care

Taking care of a loved one is going to take more than an education and requires an actionable plan that can help you stay on track. Furthermore, by having a plan of care, you’re providing dedicated resources to your patient while also setting healthy boundaries for all parties.

When undergoing this step, it’s important to involve the loved one in receiving care as much as possible. While you may have to make some decisions for their own good, having your patient as a part of the process typically provides a better outcome for everyone. These are some key considerations you’ll need to remember when developing a plan as a family caregiver:

  • The logistics of care take time. Making sure your loved one can access healthcare appointments, perform activities of daily life (ADLs), and balance your own life is virtually impossible without a plan in place.
  • Having a plan for care is important, but so too is making sure that patients are comfortable. Don’t forgo or underestimate the importance of comfort for your loved one and the accommodations that will come with it.
  • Financial stress is a huge burden for caregivers who have issues running from additional household costs to opportunity costs when taking on the role. Making a budget and sticking to it is going to help you ensure the important things are covered and your household has the resources necessary.
  • Piggybacking off of the financial plan, it’s likely you’re going to need to make a new plan for your professional arrangements. Not everyone leaves the workforce completely, but work can often look different once taking on the role of family caregiver.
  • It’s also critical that there is a plan in place for getting different care professionals, including respite care, in place for your patient. While family caregivers can do a lot, sometimes, rest is needed, and there are some needs that are best left to professionals.
  • Comfort and healthcare needs are necessary, but you’re also going to want to have a plan for the end. Although an uncomfortable topic, failing to have a plan in the event a loved one passes can lead to confusion, resentment, and even more stress during an already difficult time.
  • You’re also going to need to prepare a plan for what to do after your loved one passes away. Not only is it stressful to deal with planning a funeral and final wishes, but handling the execution of wills and distributing estates can be a process that takes years.
  • Of all of the tips for caregiving out there, the one most overlooked is arguably taking care of yourself. Create boundaries and have a plan for self-care that focuses on your personal mental and physical needs.

Communicate Your Plan With Your Family and Place of Work

It’s one thing to have a plan, but if it’s not communicated to the other parties involved, you likely won’t find success. Caring for a loved one is going to mean change, and having a support system in place helps make it all happen:

  • Once you have a plan in place, be sure to set guidelines that are respectful and firm. Communicate your role and the roles that others may take on in your family as a result of caring for a loved one.
  • Because your work-life balance is undergoing a major change, it’s also important to speak with your place of work so that everyone is on the same page.
  • Running your plan by the professionals involved in your loved one’s care is also critical. This can help avoid potential hiccups and ensure that your plan is a viable option for the patient in need.

You’ll want to give yourself grace during this process and use it to reassess your patient’s needs. Consulting with professionals can be helpful not only for getting everyone on the same page but for gathering new information. This means you can use their expert opinion to readjust in a way that is helpful for you and your loved one.

What Do I Need To Be a Caregiver?

Determining what each elderly caregiver needs will vary from person to person. You may be someone with medical training who is fully capable of fulfilling the healthcare needs of your loved one, but financial decisions are not your strong suit. The opposite is also true for those who understand budgeting and investments but aren’t prepared for healthcare needs.

There are several different roles of a caregiver and just as many, if not more, needs that also stem from loved ones. Here’s what you’ll need to become a family caregiver on a universal level:

  • Self-awareness: You can’t become the right family caregiver if you don’t understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. Take the time to self-reflect and improve on the skills and knowledge that you don’t have while still leaning on experts for more advanced issues. Don’t be afraid to delegate to trusted secondary caregivers when needed.
  • Resources: Having resources is one thing, but you’re going to need to make sure they are from trusted sources before following them. Government agencies, trusted scientific organizations, and credible charities are all great places to start.
  • Support: This is exactly why you’ll want to communicate your role as an elderly caregiver to other family members. The job has many stress points and nuances that may require understanding and teamwork. Talk to your loved ones about ways to support each other during these times and be realistic about the changes caregiving for the elderly brings about.
  • A Process: One of the leading issues anyone is going to face when taking care of a loved one is going to be caregiver stress. Without having the right process in place, you’re setting yourself up to fail before you ever begin. Make a plan, communicate the plan, and stick to it for the best results.

Always remember that your actions are aiming towards the goal of helping older family members retain dignity and a higher quality of life. Tailoring the skills you learn and the resources you keep to your patient is going to provide the personal level of care necessary for doing so. Focusing on how to become a caregiver for your family members according to their needs will set you both up for success.

How To Become a Licensed Caregiver in Your State

In order to become a caregiver on a professional level, you’re going to need to pass certain thresholds depending on your state of residence. This means undergoing training and fulfilling other caregiver requirements that will allow you to receive your state license for the profession.

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Furthermore, there are several different types of professional caregivers, and standards may also vary depending on where you are employed. For example, states like Michigan are a bit more laxed for caregivers, where you’ll only need to get certified if your patient requires marijuana. On the other hand, in order to become a caregiver in New York, you are required to have extensive training of more than 70 hours.

Receiving these certifications can be helpful for any senior caregiver as they provide you with a thorough baseline of the skills you’ll need to take care of your loved one. Here’s how the caregiver requirements vary in each state:

State Minimal Training and Qualifications Length of Training Resources/Contact
Alabama There are no requirements N/A Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) can be reached at 1-800-225-9770.
Alaska CPR

Basic first aid

Must be tested for tuberculosis (TB)

While formal home care training isn’t required, you’ll still need to maintain a business license

8 hours+ Alaska Department of Health, Division of Senior and Disabilities Services can be reached at either 907-269-3453 or (907) 269-8164
Arizona You’ll need to undergo basic caregiver training if you are to receive a license as part of a home care agency

Direct care workers (DCWs) must also have six hours of Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS) training

Additional requirements may be necessary when dealing with marijuana

8 hours+ Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) is available at (602) 542-1025
Arkansas The Rules and Regulations for Home Caregiver Training in Arkansas are based on laws of the State of Arkansas in Act 1410 of 2013, Ark. Code Ann. §20-77-2301 et seq. These regulations demand a variety of training involving basic caregiving needs, among other guidelines 40 hours You can reach the Arkansas Department of Health at 1-800-462-0599

Additional resources may be found through the Arkansas Division of Human Services in collaboration with the Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance (DPSQA) which can be found at Donaghey Plaza, P.O. Box 1437, Little Rock, AR 72203

California You must complete the Home Care Aide (HCA) certification which includes both orientation training and basic caregiving skills within the first four months of your employment

Once this is completed, you’ll have to pass an exam and apply to the California Department of Social Services which also includes undergoing a background check

You must be up-to-date on your vaccines and have a negative TB test

30 hours The Home Care Services Branch (HCSB) of the California Department of Social Services can be reached at (877) 424-5778 or 744 P Street MS 9-14-90 Sacramento, CA 95814
Colorado The Code of Colorado Regulations provides various caregiving requirements which may vary depending on health needs and the program you are a part of 8 hours+ The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) can be found at 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South Denver, CO 80246 or by calling 303-692-2700
Connecticut Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) requires basic caregiver training and a background check 8 hours DCP can be located at 450 Columbus Boulevard, Suite 901 Hartford, Connecticut 06103-1840 or reached at (860) 713-6100
Delaware Title 77, Section 245.71 Delaware State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates 8 hours of general training per year for caregivers 8 hours You can find the Delaware Health and Social Services in the Lewis Building, DHSS Campus Herman Holloway Sr. Campus 1901 N. DuPont Highway, New Castle, Delaware 19720 and contacted at 1-800-372-2022
District of Columbia Title 77, Section 245.71 DC State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates a minimum of 8 hours of training

Additional qualifications and training are required for patients who require the use of marijuana

8 hours+ DC Health is in charge of caregiver licensing and regulations and can be at (877) 672-2174 or at 899 North Capitol St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Florida There are different requirements depending on the type of caregiver you are

Home health agencies adhere to state regulations while Medicare/Medicaid agencies go off of federal

You can bypass this training if you pass the AHCA test if you are a caregiver for a home health agency

Caregivers who are working through Medicare/Medicaid agencies must complete a competency evaluation with observation among other requirements

40 hours+ for state-licensed home health agencies

75 hours+ for Medicare/Medicaid home health agencies

Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) is headquartered at Bureau of Health Facility Regulation 2727 Mahan Dr. – Mail Stop #32, Tallahassee, FL 32308 and can be reached at (850) 412-4500 or at (800) 955-8771 (TDD)
Georgia Title 77, Section 245.71 Georgia State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates minimal caregiving and homemaking training 8 hours+ The Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire is available at 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., West Tower, Suite 702, Atlanta, GA 30334 or over the phone at (404) 656-2070
  • Title 77, Section 245.71 Hawaii State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers requires basic training for caregivers
  • For those becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA), much more training is required, and you must pass the state exam for certification
Many home caregivers only require 8 hours

CNA training requires a minimum of 75 hours

For more information, you can contact the State of Hawaii, Department of Health at (808) 586-4400 or online
Idaho There is no training required N/A The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare doesn’t set regulations for caregivers but can be reached at 208-364-1959
Illinois All caregivers must complete training which will include topics on elder abuse and HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

Additional training is required for anyone taking care of someone with dementia

8 hours minimum with an additional 6 hours required for those taking care of patients with dementia The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) can be reached at 217-782-5830
Indiana Title 77, Section 245.71 Indiana State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates basic care and housekeeping training 8 hours The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) Division of Home and Community Based Care can be found at 2 North Meridian Street, 4A, Indianapolis, IN 46204 or contacted at 317-233-7492
Iowa Not required for seniors though background checks may be required

The exception remains that certifications may be needed when your patient requires medical cannabis

Child caregivers may also have additional requirements

N/A Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing (DIAL) can be contacted online

Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is in charge of consumable hemp and can be contacted at 1-800-972-2017

Kansas Title 77, Section 245.71 Kansas State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates basic training for caregivers 8 hours Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) can be found in the New England Building at 503 S. Kansas Ave., Topeka, KS, 66603-3404 or on the phone at 785-296-4986
Kentucky Title 77, Section 245.71 Kentucky State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates basic caregiver training 8 hours The Kentucky Department for Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) can be reached by mail at 275 E. Main St. 3E-E, Frankfort, KY 40601, or over the phone at (502) 564-6930
Louisiana The training required of caregivers depends on the type in Louisiana but is typically extensive CNA caregivers must take 12 hours

Caregivers working through Personal Care Services (PCS) requires 20 hours

The Lousiana Department of Health (LDH) can be reached by mail at Louisiana Department of Health, P. O. Box 629, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0629, in person at 628 N. 4th Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, or over the phone via 225-342-9500
Maine The training required can vary as caregiver eligibility requirements differ in Maine depending on your relationship, however, a baseline of basic caregiving training is required by Title 77, Section 245.71 Maine State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers

Additional training and certifications may be necessary for those with patients using medical marijuana

8 hours+ Caregivers in Maine can reach out and find their local Area Agency on Aging by dialing 1-877-353-3771

You can contact the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy (OCP) at (207) 287-3282

Maryland Requirements may vary but Title 77, Section 245.71 Maryland State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates minimal basic caregiver training

You must maintain a valid MCA Caregiver ID Card to assist patients using medical marijuana

8 hours with the potential of more for caregivers dealing with medical marijuana Maryland Department of Aging can be reached at 301 West Preston Street Suite 1007, Baltimore, MD 21201, (410)-767-1100, or 1 (800) 243 3425

Maryland Cannabis Administration 849 International Drive, 4th Floor, Linthicum, MD 21090, or by dialing 410-487-8100 or 1-844-421-2571

Massachusetts You must pass the Personal and Home Care Aide State Training (PHCAST), which provides a basic caregiver and homemaking training PHCAST can vary as it’s self-paced but it is estimated to take 37 hours The Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) handles PHCAST and can be reached at One Ashburton Place, 5 floor, Boston, MA 02108, (617) 727-7750, or information.resources@mass.gov
Michigan There are no requirements, but CNAs and those handling medical marijuana may require additional training N/A Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is available via mail at 333 S. Grand Ave, P.O. Box 30195, Lansing, Michigan 48909, or at 517-241-3740

The Michigan Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP) operates within the Cannabis Regulatory Agency can be emailed at CRA-MedicalMarijuana@michigan.gov

Minnesota Training can involve basic caregiving and support skills

Curriculum can vary but must be approved by the state

You’ll need to provide the reasons for the courses you are taking and how they will specifically help your patient

Business training and licensing may also be necessary

Length may vary but at least 8 hours is typically recommended The Minnesota Board on Aging (MBA), the Area Agencies on Aging, and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) collaborate on caregiver training

You can reach the DHS via 651-431-2000 or DHS.info@state.mn.us

Mississippi Title 77, Section 245.71 Mississippi State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates basic caregiving training 8 hours Mississippi Access to Care Center (MAC) can be contacted at 844-822-4622
Missouri Title 77, Section 245.71 Missouri State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates basic caregiver training 8 hours Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services by mail at 912 Wildwood P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102, by phone at 573-751-6400, or info@health.mo.gov
Montana Title 77, Section 245.71 Montana State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers may mandate basic caregiver training 8 hours may be required but nevertheless is always recommended Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) provides plenty of caregiver resources online and can be reached at (800) 332-2272 or (406) 444-4077
Nebraska Caregivers must complete rigorous training that covers a variety of topics 75 total hours with 16 hours supervised Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) can be contacted at 301 Centennial Mall South,

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509, (402) 471-3121, or (800) 833-7352 (TDD)

Nevada Training requirements may vary depending on what kind of caregiver you are

However, you’re going to have to learn from at least 16 courses

There are no hour requirements, but training can take at least 8 hours if not more Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) can be contacted on the phone at (775) 684-4000 or by emailing nvdhhs@dhhs.nv.gov
New Hampshire Title 77, Section 245.71 New Hampshire State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates basic caregiver training 8 hours

In some cases, New Hampshire offers free training which can take 3 weeks to cover the skills you need

New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) can be reached at 1-844-275-3447
New Jersey The amount of training and courses required will depend on the type of caregiving you pursue Certified Home Health Aides (CHHAs) require 76 hours

CNAs require 90 hours

Annually, CHHAs must complete 12 hours of training

New Jersey Department of Human Services can be contacted at 222 South Warren St., PO Box 700, Trenton, NJ 08625-0700 or by calling a variety of hotlines

Additionally, the Jersey Assistance for Community Caregiving (JACC) is also available as a viable resource

New Mexico The New Mexico Caregivers Coalition (NMCC) in collaboration with ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center offers respite caregiving training

Title 77, Section 245.71 New Mexico State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers also mandates caregiving training

The NMCC-ARCH online course is self-paced, yet takes at least 7 hours

Title 77 requires 8 hours of training

The amount of training you need may depend on your role as a caregiver

You can contact the NMCC either at 505-867-6046 or info@nmdcc.org
New York The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) mandates an extensive, multi-course program to gain certification 75 hours+ Contact the NYSDOH by mail at New York State Department of Health Office of Professional Medical Conduct Riverview Center, 150 Broadway Suite 355, Albany, New York 12204-2719, over the phone at 1-518-402-0836, or via email at opmc@health.ny.gov
North Carolina The NC Division of Health Service Regulation (DHSR) requires caregivers to take approved courses offered by the Adult Care Licensure Section (ACLS)

The education is comprehensive and reaches a variety of caregiving topics

80 hours You can reach the NCDHSR by mail at 2712 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-2712, visiting 1205 Umstead Drive, Raleigh, NC 27603, or calling 919-855-4620
North Dakota Training requirements are set by individual agencies instead of the state government Hours may vary The North Dakota Department of Human Services (NDDHS) can be reached at 600 East Boulevard Avenue, Dept 325, Bismarck N.D. 58505-0250, dialing (701) 328-2310, or at dhseo@nd.gov
Ohio There are no training requirements

It’s worth noting that in Ohio, family caregivers cannot be under 18 or a spouse to receive compensation

N/A Training is available through the Ohio Department of Aging

You can contact them at 1-800-266-4346 or by mail at Ohio Department of Aging, 30 E Broad St, 22nd Floor, Columbus, OH 43215-3414

Oklahoma Training on basic caregiver skills is required

Additional requirements may be required for those handling medical marijuana

8 hours+ Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) can be reached at Oklahoma Human Services, 2400 N Lincoln Boulevard, Oklahoma City, OK 73105, or (405) 522-5050

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) can be reached at 405-522-6662 or that mail at Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, PO Box 262266, Oklahoma City, OK 73126-226

Oregon The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) mandates caregivers receive training covering basic caregiving skill 8 hours

Two of the eight hours may be obtained before starting

Of the remaining six hours, you must fulfill this requirement within 120 days of employment

One hour of competency evaluation can be used towards your eight hours

OHA is available at 503-947-2340 by phone or at 500 Summer Street, NE, E-20, Salem, OR 97301-1097
Pennsylvania The training required for caregivers will vary but covers a variety of important basic skills

You may be required to complete your training within 120 days

8 to 12 hours Pennsylvania Department of Health can be reached by mail at Division of Home Health, 2525 N. 7th Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110

There is also an extensive contact list with a variety of phone numbers

Rhode Island There are various requirements depending on the type of caregiver you are CNAs must complete 12 hours each year

20 hours with annual abuse and neglect training are required for PCAs

Some caregivers may require 20 hours in a classroom and 5 hours in practical training

The State of Rhode Island Department of Health offers many resources for caregivers

You can reach them at 401-432-7217 or 3 Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 02908

South Carolina Title 77, Section 245.71 South Carolina State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates minimal training for caregivers 8 hours South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is available at (888) 549-0820, (888) 842-3620 for TTY, or by mail at SCDHHS P.O. Box 8206, Columbia, SC 29202-8206

South Carolina Department on Aging (SCDOA) is also available at (803) 734-9900 or 1301 Gervais Street, Suite 350, Columbia, SC 29201

South Dakota Title 77, Section 245.71 South Dakota State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates basic caregiving training

Caregivers handling medical cannabis may require additional training

8 hours+ South Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) can be reached by calling 833-663-9673, emailing DakotaAtHome@state.sd.us, or by mailing Division of Long Term Services and Supports, Hillsview Plaza, 3800 E Hwy 34 c/o 500 E. Capitol Avenue, Pierre, SD 57501

The South Dakota Cannabis Information Portal is also available

Tennessee Title 77, Section 245.71 Tennessee State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates basic caregiver training 8 hours+ The TN Commission on Aging & Disability collaborates with the National Family Caregiving Support Program (NFCSP) and local Area Agencies on Aging and Disability

Find and contact your local Area Agency at 866-836-6678

Texas Title 77, Section 245.71 Texas State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates basic caregiving training 8 hours+ The Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) can help you find local resources in your area by calling 855-YES-ADRC (855-937-2372)
Utah Caregivers are required to learn basic caregiving and housekeeping skills

Additional training may be required for those helping patients that have dementia

Furthermore, caregivers are required to undergo training that is relevant to the care they provide based on their patient(s)’s needs

8 or more hours are required from all caregivers but additional training depending on medical conditions can add time You can reach the Utah Department of Health and Human Services at either 1-888-222-2542 or at Cannon Health Building, 288 North 1460 West, Salt Lake City, UT 8411
Vermont Caregivers must undergo mandated and approved training in accordance with standards created by Vermont Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) 12 hours+ The Adult Services Division within Vermont DAIL provides a wealth of training information for caregivers

Contact can be made at HC 2 South, 280 State Drive, Waterbury, VT 05671-2070 or by dialing (802) 241-0294

Virginia Title 77, Section 245.71 Virginia State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates basic caregiving training requirements 8 hours The Division of Licensing Programs (DOLP) within the Virginia Department of Social Services handles licensing and has many different offices

To contact the main DOLP office you can reach them at the Virginia Department of Social Services Division of Licensing Programs, 801 East Main Street, 9th Floor, Richmond, Virginia 23219, or by calling 1-800-543-7545

Washington Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) requires extensive training for all caregivers within the Evergreen State All caregivers must undertake at least 75 hours of training

This is broken down into 2 hours for orientation, 3 hours of safety training, and 70 hours that is both general and specific to the caregiving skills of your patient(s)

CNA training may require 85 hours or more

Contact the Washington DSHS at 866-214-9899 to learn more about resources for family caregivers
West Virginia In addition to various background checks and age requirements, you’ll need to be CPR certified

To maintain your status in the West Virginia In-Care Worker Registry, you’ll need to maintain annual training on the following:

Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation



First Aid


OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

8 hours+

Renewing your registration may take a higher number of hours each year

You can contact the West Virginia In-Care Worker Registry via email at inhomecare@wv.gov
Wisconsin A minimum amount of caregiving basic training is required

However, newer programs to provide resources for potential caregivers are offering more extensive training opportunities

8 hours may be enough for some caregivers

The program offered by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay can take 30 hours to complete

You can contact the Wisconsin Department of Health Services at 1 West Wilson Street, Madison, WI 53703, or at 608-266-1865, (TTY) 800-947-3529
Wyoming Title 77, Section 245.71 Wyoming State Qualifications and Requirements for Home Services Workers mandates basic caregiving training 8 hours+ To contact the Wyoming Department of Health, you can do so at 2300 Capitol Avenue, Suite 510, Cheyenne, WY 82002, calling (307) 777-7123, or by emailing wdh-ohls@wyo.gov

*Note: The requirements above are subject to change as government agencies see fit. In addition to the training requirements, there may be additional caregiver requirements, Though not universal, you’ll usually need to be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma. Background checks are also commonplace.

Specific healthcare needs may also require certain training and certifications. For example, the legal administering of medicinal marijuana. Exceptions may also apply to those with the right healthcare-related experience, credentials, and certifications. You’ll also need to prove that you have reliable transportation and valid auto insurance.

If you are applying to be a CNA, the requirements are often much more extensive. You’ll likely need 75 to 100 hours of training to qualify. Furthermore, you’re going to have to potentially meet federal caregiver guidelines to receive compensation from Medicare/Medicaid programs. These requirements may remain even if there are no formal guidelines for home caregivers otherwise.

Other forms of compensation for being a family caregiver may be available for those who meet the training requirements. These standards may also vary from state to state, and you’ll need to apply to the corresponding state-run program to be accepted.

Finally, getting your license is one thing, but states may also have a variety of standards necessary to maintain them. You may be asked to take additional training over time throughout continued education courses. Training hours listed above, when required, may also be annually required by some states. Additional training and standards may also become necessary as new healthcare threats arise as mandated by state, local, and private entities.

Stages of Caregiving

There are generally six stages of caregiving that anyone taking on the role will go through. You’ll face obstacles and need to fulfill different roles as time goes on and things evolve. From the moments before you officially become an elderly caregiver through the time it will take to fulfill your duties, each stage has its own characteristics and will affect both you and our patient in different ways. Below is each stage.

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Stage 1: The Expectant Carer

Acting as sort of a prequel to family caregiving; the first stage is going to be your chance to prepare. The role of a caregiver comes with a lot of responsibilities and lifestyle changes. When you begin to expect that a loved one will be in need of care, do what you care to get ready and provide them with the level of help they deserve.

It’s during this time that you’re going to want to go through and ensure that you’re doing your research and making a plan with others as needed. This can include other members of your household, your patient’s healthcare team, and anyone else who is going to play a role in helping them in any capacity.

You’re also going to want to establish guidelines and routines to carry through that will help you manage stress and balance your workload. Getting your affairs in order will help you build momentum and establish important self-care, career, and health habits that end up benefiting all parties.

Stage 2: The Freshman Carer

The second stage you’ll enter will take place during your initial actions as an elderly caregiver. During this time, you can expect there to be learning curves not only in how to care for your patient but how the healthcare industry works as a whole, along with other functions.

During this process, it’s advised that you pay attention to your relationship with your patient, the duties of a caregiver you excel at, and the ones you don’t, and identify both stress points and methods of handling said stress. You’ll likely have to cut some things off, but it’s a great time to assess the hobbies and interests that matter most to you to continue pursuing as your priorities shift.

Stage 3: The Entrenched Carer

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While the first two stages are helping you get prepared and set up your care, stage 3 is when you’re thrust into action. This is why the first two steps are so important on how to become a caregiver because they are going to set the standards and processes of what you’ll need to use when tending to your loved one in this stage and beyond.

With that being said, you can still make adjustments here and as you go to better suit your loved one’s needs and your own. Remember, caregiving is an evolving journey. These stages prove it. Readjust accordingly and edit processes when needed to make the experience better for everyone involved.

Stage 4: The Pragmatic Carer

At this point, there isn’t much you haven’t seen. The stages of caregiving before came with much steeper learning curves, but now, you have much more of a grasp on various concepts, methods, and terms necessary for navigating the world of healthcare. Getting into stage four is also helpful for the rest of your journey because you can read and plan all you want, but experience is the ultimate teacher.

Stage 5: The Transitioning Carer

Perhaps your loved one has recovered, or maybe it’s just their time. Either way, a transition is taking place, and the end is your caregiver role is near. For many, hospice and other end-of-life care options have become bigger focal points. This may mean additional learning curves to understand the process better.

The transition here isn’t just about your role but how you approach things with your patient. Rather than focusing on healthcare concerns, there is a greater emphasis on the love and comfort you can provide.

When it comes to your own needs, stage five is when you’ll need to start to lean on others and plan how you will need to process grief when appropriate. Having the right people in your corner when your loved one’s time comes is essential to seeing through the process as smoothly as possible.

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Stage 6: The Godspeed Carer

After everything you’ve been through, your job as an elderly caregiver has finally come to an end. This timeline will vary for everyone, but the information you now possess from first-hand experience continues to be highly valuable to others. Providing family members and friends with the lessons, tips, and resources you’ve gained through your experience helps others complete their own journey in a fulfilling way.

How To Be a Good Caregiver

The qualifications for caregiver roles for the elderly change from state to state on a professional level, but that’s just the technical side of things. While important, family caregivers are going to lean on the other traits of a caregiver if they are going to help their loved ones.

Tangible skills can come over time, and the technical side of things is still good to learn. Understanding the basics of first aid, learning more about the health conditions of your patient so that you can be more attentive, and knowing how to navigate the healthcare system are all necessary. But being a good caregiver goes a bit deeper.

Develop Your Emotional Skills

Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) is arguably the most underrated of the skills you’ll need as an elderly caregiver. Often used in the world of business, make no mistake: EI is invaluable for family caregivers. This is because while its scope can encompass many different aspects, at its core, EI is going to deal with being able to manage your own emotions and read the emotions of others.

You can’t have empathy and compassion and provide care, excluding these qualities if you don’t first have control of your own emotions. Furthermore, you won’t adequately meet the needs of your patients if you are unable to assess what they need from you.

Provide Support, Love, and Care

All too often, the burden of healthcare becomes the sole focal point of caregiving, and this is a mistake. Not only is this incorrect, but you’ll add unneeded stress to you and your loved one in your care by doing so. There are doctors, nurses, and professional caregivers, more on that in a bit, but your job as a central support system should not be overlooked.

Providing care, often at the cost of personal sacrifice and without compensation, is essential for any senior caregiver. The emotional side of things for your patient is going to require love and care that only family can provide. Being there for them as your loved ones are facing difficult decisions, typically near the end of their life, is key.

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Delegate to Experts

You’re going to need to learn new things and develop skills outside of the norm when caring for a loved one. However, it’s important to have self-awareness of what skills are better off left to those who are experts. When necessary, don’t forget to stick to your game plan and allow others to help, both within your family and those who are a part of your loved one’s healthcare team professionally.

Taking care of loved ones can be rewarding, however, caregiver stress is a real issue pressing for those taking on the role. Be sure to read our guide’s next chapter to help you overcome stress points with tips and resources.


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Kayla Hopkins

Kayla Hopkins

Content Editor
Kayla Hopkins is an accomplished writer and Medicare guru serving as the Editor of MedicareFAQ.com. Upon completing her Communications degree from Ohio University, Kayla dedicated her time to understanding the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare. With her extensive background as a Licensed Insurance Agent, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her writing.
Ashlee Zareczny

Ashlee Zareczny

Compliance Manager
Ashlee Zareczny is the Compliance Manager for MedicareFAQ. As a licensed Medicare agent in all 50 states, she is dedicated to educating those eligible for Medicare by providing the necessary resources and tools. Additionally, Ashlee trains new and tenured Medicare agents on CMS compliance guidelines. Ashlee is a Medicare expert who specializes in Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D education.


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