What Is A Caregiver – Types and Their Qualifications

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“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers. Caregiving is universal,” said the former First Lady of the United States, Rosalynn Carter.

We all need a little help from time to time. In times of need we often rely on our friends and family. However, some individuals, such as elderly folks and critically ill patients may require special assistance and long-term care. These people can truly benefit from a caregiver.

Caregivers are those who provide support and help relieve the burden of people who are in need. They provide physical as well as emotional support to the person in need. 

The role of a caregiver is often misunderstood and even ignored at times. So, what is a caregiver ? Let’s find out.

Caregivers Vs Nurses

Many people confuse the role of nurses with caregivers. However, there are many differences and knowing these can be instrumental in giving your loved one the proper care.


A nurse is required and licensed to perform skilled care. They are trained in tasks such as tube feeding, administering injections and medications, IV etc.

They are responsible for following and implementing the instructions given by a doctor. They can assess and monitor a patient’s health and aid in their recovery. They have strict educational requirements.


What do caregivers do? The role of a caregiver is to take care of the simple day to day activities of the client. They provide companionship and a sense of comfort to the client. They develop close bonds with the ones they take care of and look after their daily needs.

For example, a senior may no longer be able to do regular activities by himself such as groceries, cooking or even bathing, due to disabilities and lack of mobility. A caregiver’s role would be to take care of all of that as well as providing emotional support to the senior.

So, what is a caregiver? A caregiver is simply a person who takes care of the needs and concerns of someone with limitations due to disability, illness or injury.

Types Of Caregivers

Since the term caregiver can refer to anyone who provides care, there are different types of caregivers. When It comes to senior care, these are the types of caregivers you’ll find.

1. Private-Duty Caregivers

These caregivers are hired through an agency. They are screened through the agency and are bonded and insured. Using an agency to provide a caregiver has advantages. In scenarios where the scheduled caregiver isn’t available, families can get a backup caregiver. 

2. Independent Caregivers 

They are also known as private caregivers (not to be confused with private-duty caregivers) . They do not work through an agency. They charge lower rates as compared to private duty caregivers.  However, families take on the liability of letting unknown people into their house.

3. Family Caregivers 

At the end of the day, what is a caregiver? Someone who takes care of a person in need. So, when a mother takes care of her sick child, isn’t she a caregiver? Or when a son takes care of his old father, isn’t he a caregiver? Hence, the term family caregiver, is for members of the family who choose to take care of their loved ones.

4. Respite Caregivers

A respite caregiver takes over from a family caregiver for a period of time to give them a break. They could be independent or private-duty caregivers. The role implies that they are short-term caregivers. 

Caregiver Qualifications 

How to be a caregiver? What are their qualifications? The requirements vary for each state. 

There is no fixed certification or education required to become a caregiver. Those who work for agencies may have their own set of standards. Some agencies have strict background checks and interview processes before hiring a caregiver, others don’t.

Always do thorough research before hiring a private-duty or independent caregiver for your loved ones. Make sure the agency or independent caregiver is well reputed.

The training requirements to become a caregiver vary from state to state. While this makes it more difficult to answer the question, what is a caregiver, every aspiring caregiver should be compassionate, patient, dependable, empathetic and flexible. 

1. Becoming A Volunteer Caregiver 

If you are looking to be a volunteer caregiver, there are many non-profit organizations and hospices that rely on people just like you. They also offer specific training if you volunteer and wish to work with them.

Apart from that, if you know any elderly neighbor or friend who needs your assistance, don’t be shy to volunteer. Your help can make a marked difference to that person’s life. 

2. Becoming A Non-medical Caregiver 

As a non medical caregiver, you’ll be providing personal care, respite care as well as companionship to a client. This can include feeding, bathing, medication reminders, transportation assistance and providing social support. You don’t need a medical background for this although many states require some form of formal training and certification.

3. Becoming A Skilled Caregiver 

Also known as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). This requires specific training, which varies from state to state. All states regulate their CNAs working in nursing homes, and maintain a registry. Each state has their own standards for evaluation, although there is a federal minimum, which is a training requirement of 75 hours.

CNAs need to have a high school diploma. If you’re interested in how to be a caregiver, training programs are usually available in community colleges or trade schools. Before considering any program, you need to ensure it is approved by your state’s nursing board. 

Benefits Of A Caregiver 

Hiring a caregiver can provide many benefits to your loved one and your family.

A caregiver can give you and your loved one independence. For example, many seniors do not want to move into a facility and hiring a caregiver can give them the freedom of aging in their home beside their loved ones. It also allows them to go on with their daily routine.

As a family member, you won’t have to worry about your loved one living with strangers far away from you. Having a caregiver you can trust can be a huge relief and allows everyone to have some peace of mind.

Most of us would hate to admit that we need help. When people suffer from limitations due to age, illness, or disabilities, it can be hard for them to accept reality.

As family members, we obviously want to help our loved ones, but often it becomes difficult to manage everything. In such scenarios, hiring a dedicated caregiver to take care of your loved one can be a relief for everyone. 

A good caregiver can not only take care of daily chores and activities but also provide the social support and companionship that your loved one needs. 

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