Health Care for the Caregiver

As the country ponders how to improve the healthcare system, Caregiverlist would like to mention a much overlooked fact:  very often the caregivers for our nation's seniors do not have healthcare insurance themselves. 

The people who are actively participating in caring for the disabled, ill and aging, are not being cared for by our current health insurance system.  Why?  Because many providers of caregiving services are small businesses and the cost is prohibitive.  A friend of mine who owns her own business and has a lifetime history of health, for example, pays $350 per month for a health insurance policy that provides coverage only after the first $5,000 of health care expenses have been paid for out-of-pocket, with no co-pays.  This means she must pay out-of-pocket for any of her doctor's visits until she reaches $5,000 in doctor bills, which fortunately has not happened. 

Part-time workers also often do not qualify for health care benefits and many caregivers are part-time.  Caregivers who are "hire-directs" and do not work for a senior home care agency do not have health insurance as a benefit.

While there are many problems with our current system, any change for the better would be welcome.  Why is Medicare the only healthcare insurance provided to everyone, and only after they are old enough, at age 65, to actually have some health problems because they have never received healthcare their entire life?

For those who have had the luxury of always having healthcare because of working for a large corporation or the government, stop and take a look around and ask your neighbor, or your caregiver, what their health insurance coverage is and find out the reality of this crisis as you form your opinion on what solutions might be best.  It is important to also remember that many of the large corporations who are trying to weather the current economic storm have also been suffering from the high cost of healthcare for their employees and many have made cuts in this area.

Learn about the current plan for health care reform and learn what Medicare provides for those who are age 65 or older.  Maybe we can find away to have health incentive programs and include everyone in the game of trying to stay healthy.


No Unemployment in Caregiving as Senior Population Increases

As the U.S. begins to climb out of the recent recession, unemployment remains high, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting unemployment higher in July, 2009, than a year earlier in all major metropolitan markets, at 9.7%.

However, the government reports that the healthcare field is still "hot" (yes, the government really stated this in a news release), with jobs in this category including positions at hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, physician and dentist offices and ambulatory care services, including non-medical home care.

As the population continues to age and live longer with advances in medical care, the need for senior caregivers will continue to grow.

Anyone with a caring personality and a willingness to learn about interacting with seniors who are challenged by age-related diseases, including memory loss, can seek a companion caregiving position.  In addition, caregivers can become certified as nursing aides or home health aides in their state and receive additional pay while being considered for even more available caregiving positions.  Hospitals and nursing homes must maintain a minimum number of certified staff to meet department of health guidelines.

You may learn about becoming certified as a nursing aide or home health aide and take a sample nursing aide test on Caregiverlist and apply for a senior caregiving job in your area.


Nursing Aide Test Questions

Interested in becoming a Certified Nursing Aide, Certified Home Health Aide or Personal Care Assistant?  All states in the U.S.A. provide certification for nursing aides and some states provide additional job categories and certification for caregivers who will be working in homes instead of in nursing homes, hospitals or assisted living communities and these caregivers can be certified as Home Health Aides or Personal Care Assistants.

Certification usually required completing a classroom program along with clinical field work in a job setting at a hospital or nursing home.  Then the caregiver must pass the state's certification exam and follow other requirements to remain certified (pass background check and maintain proper immunizations).

What are some questions you may be asked on a certification exam?

  • What temperature should the water be for a bath?
  • What are normal respirations?
  • How does a colostomy work?
  • What information should you share with your supervisor?

You may take a free sample nursing aide test on Caregiverlist or a complete practice nursing aide test and refresh or improve your caregiving skills.  You may also apply for a caregiving position in your area and work part-time or as a companion caregiver while obtaining nursing aide certification.


Caregiver Interviewing Tips

Senior caregiver positions continue to be available for both companion caregivers (no formal professional experience needed) and certified nursing aides and home health aides.  As turnover in positions will always be present in caregiving (as client's conditions improve or when client's pass away), ongoing openings for caregivers will continue.  In addition, there is an increased need for caregivers to assist senior's with memory loss as ongoing care is often needed as the memory loss progresses.

How can you properly prepare for an interview to be hired by a leading senior care company?

1) Be professional in all your interaction with the company.  What is your e-mail address? If your current e-mail is silly or could be misleading (or perhaps a bit sexual - you wouldn't believe the e-mail addresses we have seen, from "yourhotmamma" and well, we could go on and on, but you get the idea), go to "gmail" or another free e-mail service and create a professional e-mail address that just contains your name and use this for your caregiver job search.  If your name is not available, piggy-back your name with numbers to come up with something professional.

2) Communicate clearly you previous experience.  Don't be shy - share information about your caregiving skills from both personal experiences and professional experiences.  This allows the hiring company to see beyond the basic information and will help your application stand out from the crowd.  Be sure to proof anything you write to make sure there are no spelling errors and your sentences read well as hiring companies do look at your communication abilities as this is also important when caring for a senior.

3) Refresh your caregiving skills.  Are you a certified nursing aide or home health aide?  If so, revisit your school training manual, take a nursing aide Sample Test or nursing aide Practice Test.  This will allow you to talk about specifics and toss out correct answers to questions you may be asked in the interview.  Read information about communicating with a senior with memory loss or hearing loss and learn about other age-related diseases.  This way you will be able to provide specific examples of ways you apply your caregiving skills on the job.

4) Don't be on time - be early for your interview.  Dependability is very important in caregiving. When working as a senior caregiver, it is very important you are always on time for your shifts.  This is because a senior will worry if you are not there on time and this not only will cause problems for your employer but potentially negatively impact the senior's entire day.  Consider being "on-time" as late and always be 5-minutes early for interviews and assignments and tell your employer this is your policy, the 5-minute rule:  5-minutes early is on-time.

5) Secure references.  Show you are prepared by having names and phone numbers of at least 3 business references (former managers or co-workers who can verify you worked at a company previously) and 3 personal references (friends or neighbors who can provide a character reference).  If you have to collect this information later, you will slow down the hiring process so bring this information with you to the interview.  This also shows your future employer you are organized and prepared.

6) Follow-up with a thank-you noteGo the extra mile and send a follow-up note to your interviewer to tell them you enjoyed meeting them and learning about the company. Mention that you look forward to working with them as you see yourself as a good fit with their team.  Feel free to share some specific reasons why you see yourself as a good fit based on something you learned in the interview.

Submit a caregiving application to reach senior care companies in your area and be sure to communicate accurately your availability and share a story about your caregiving experiences to make your application more standout.


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Sample Nursing Aide Test

Are you a family caregiver or professional caregiving looking to learn more caregiving skills to better provide care?

Anyone who has completed a caregiver training program knows the difference it can make to know how to safely transfer a patient or speak to someone with Alzheimer's Disease (use their name often, give them eye contact and don't ask too many open-ended questions).

Caregiverlist's Sample Nursing Aide Test is provided by the company who officially administers the nursing aide tests for the department of health in many states nationwide (for final certification, nursing aides must pass the state exam).

Test your caregiving skills or find out what types of questions would be on the nursing aide exam by taking our sample test (just scroll to the bottom of our Career Center) and if you really want to test your skills, take the nursing aide Practice test.

You can also read about senior care training and learn about caregiving for specific age-related illnesses in our training center and print out our senior care briefs.

Certified Nursing Aides have the ability to earn a couple dollars more per hour than caregivers without formal certification and you may also find nursing aide schools and programs on Caregiverlist, including costs and admission requirements.


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Certified Nursing Aide Schools and Classes

How do you become a Certified Nursing Aide?  The first step is to find nursing aide training programs in your area.  Community colleges, vocational schools and medical centers offer the programs and in some areas, nursing homes and senior home care agencies offer these certification classes.

What is required for entrance into a nursing aide training program?  You must meet all the qualification requirements for entrance into the programs, which include reading and math competency and passing a background check and drug test.  Usually a high school diploma or G.E.D. is required and the minimum age is 18

How much do nursing aide programs cost?  The cost for certification programs is usually between $500 and $2,000.  Many times you can obtain a grant or scholarship or tuition reimbursement from an employer to for the nursing aide training.  The best way to learn about financing your nursing aide certification is to speak to the school admissions office.

How do you obtain your certificate?  The final certification for nursing aides is issued by the department of health by each state, after passing the state certification exam.  You must then update your certification every 2 years.  You may want to take a nursing aide practice test prior to pursuing certification to understand all of the skills which will be necessary to become certified.

What pay rate can you expect as a certified nursing aide?  The pay rate depends on the area of the country you live in but usually you can expect pay of between $10 and $15 per hour and as you have more experience, you will receive higher pay and can advance to become a Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse as both L.P.N.'s and R.N.'s receive C.N.A. training as part of their training.  You may also work as a companion caregiver while obtaining your certification training and you may apply for a caregiving job in your area on Caregiverlist.  You may also read our Insider's Guide to Becoming a Nursing Aide to find out what school admissions officers and directors say about the certification process.





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Senior Caregiving Positions

Senior caregivers often enter the profession after having personal experience as a caregiver for a relative or friend.  Sometimes the best skill a caregiver can bring to their work is compassion for the senior's daily care needs as they cope with the aging process.

What positions are available for senior caregivers?

Part-time caregiving positions will involve assisting a senior for 2 hours or more, usually starting with a minimum shift of 3 hours, to assist the senior with personal care, meal preparation, housekeeping and errands.  Many times seniors who are experiencing memory loss or may be recovering from a stroke or hip replacement will require just part-time care to keep their physical therapy on track and to assist with their activities of daily living.  Sometimes, a short bathing visit from 1 to 2 hours, will be scheduled, with a higher pay rate for the hourly shifts because it is a short visit.

Full-time caregiving positions involve continuous care for seniors who have difficulty with ambulation or may be suffering from memory loss or another age-related disease, such as Parkinson's disease.  Assignments may be for 8  or 12 hour shifts or may be 24-hour live-in care where 2 caregivers are rotated throughout the week, with down-time in the evening and the ability to sleep at night.

Senior home care agencies provide for caregiver benefits, as required by law for employees, including contribution to social security tax so the caregiver can collect social security benefits upon retirement and worker's compensation insurance.  Additional benefits such as medical, dental and vision health care and performance bonuses are often also provided, with a requirement for a minimum number of weekly hours in order to quality.

Before interviewing for a caregiving position, a caregiver may learn about job descriptions, policies and take a nursing aide practice test to be better prepared for the interview.  Training will involve learning about the proper care techniques for seniors with age-related diseases in addition to learning the hands-on skills required for personal care and transfers.

Companion caregiving positions may not require formal training while nursing aide positions will require certification or the equivalent skill level.  You may apply for caregiving positions in your area through our Caregiverlist job application as there is an ongoing need for quality senior caregivers.


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Caregiver Employment Continues to Rise

The Rising Number of Childless Seniors Spells Opportunity for Caregivers

Caregivers have another reason to celebrate their career choice, according to a report issued this week, which forecasts a growing demand for full-time care professionals.

The U.S. Census Bureau report, An Aging World: 2008, explores trends in aging across the globe, revealing that the proportion of older people will double from 7 percent to 14 percent of the total world population in just over 30 years. This translates to long-term job security for caregivers.

“The average age of the world’s population is increasing at an unprecedented rate,” according to a U.S. Census Bureau release. “The number of people worldwide 65 and older is estimated at 506 million as of midyear 2008; by 2040, that number will hit 1.3 billion.”

Caregivers might not be surprised by the staggering projections for a growing senior population, but there’s a new twist. Many U.S. citizens who are approaching their senior years do not have children to call on to provide care.

“Twenty percent of women (ages) 40 to 44 in the United States in 2006 had no biologic children,” according to the release, which raises questions about who will one day care for this sizable group of citizens.

Seniors will increasingly count on caregiving professionals in the next 20 to 30 years. Check out the senior caregiver job description, take a practice
C.N.A. test and apply for a caregiving position in your area.

Both part-time and full-time positions are available in senior care and as some seniors need around-the-clock care, many times part-time and back-up caregivers are needed for weekends and evening.


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Minimum Wage Increases Today But Caregivers Already Earn More

Today the federal minimum wage increases to $7.25 per hour.  While each state offers their own minimum wage law, if it is less than the new federal minimum wage, they must now match this higher amount.  This means 13 states will increase their minimum wage to $7.25 today:  Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah.  

Four other states also increased their minimum wage in the month of July (some did it just before the federal deadline - a nice political opportunity for the state government to look better to employees by beating the Feds to this):  Illinois, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, with Illinois increasing their minimum wage to $8.00 per hour.  These other 3 states just matched the federal level of $7.25.  The old minimum wage was $6.55 per hour.

Which states pay the highest minimum wage?  Oregon at $8.40 per hour and Washington at $8.55.  Only 13 states, plus DC, pay more than the federal minimum wage.

Regarding the people who say this is going to put people out of work - - - - unless they are an actual business owner who can't figure out how to save 70 cents in another area, in order to keep their employees happy and able to pay for their basic costs of living, then take their feedback with a grain of salt.  And if it is a business owner who can't figure it out well, maybe he shouldn't be in business?  Employees are the backbone of any business, find away to pay them a fair wage or don't be in business.

Those of us who are business owners and have had more than 100 people working for us, know you can always cut costs someplace, and, if necessary, if you offer a great service, you can always increase your pricing to cover a necessary increase in costs, including increases in costs of living.  And one of the best ways to have great service is to have happy employees, which is worth a few cents.  

The good news?  Senior caregivers are paid more than minimum wage along with benefits by senior home care agencies nationwide.  Senior caregivers are usually paid from $9.00 to $14.00 per hour, depending on the area of the country.  Pay is more in New York than Alabama, for example, as the costs of living are more. In addition, caregivers who are certified as nursing aides or home health aides also receive higher pay when performing those duties.  In addition, many quality senior care agencies provide performance bonuses, incentives, ongoing training and support.

You may apply for a senior caregiving job in your area on Caregiverlist and also find the details on minimum wage laws in your state.



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Find Certified Nursing Aide Schools in Your Area

Caregivers interested in furthering their education and securing top senior caregiving positions may want to consider becoming a Certified Nursing Aide, also referred to as a C.N.A.  Some states also offer certifications for home health aides and personal care assistants who work in senior's homes.

What are the requirements for admission to a nursing aide program?

  • High School Diploma or Equivalency
  • Minimum age of 18
  • Background Check
  • Drug Test
  • English Comprehension for reading and writing
  • Basic math skills

Community colleges and vocational schools and some universities offer classes for certification and sometimes hospitals and nursing homes provide classes.  You can find a nursing aide certification program in your area on Caregiverlist, along with the costs and admissions requirements.

Tip:  schools tell us there are many financial aide, grants and tuition reimbursement programs available as long as you plan ahead and apply early.  As there is an ongoing need for senior caregivers with the aging population, sometimes employers also pay for the certification.

You may also take a Sample C.N.A. Test or complete a C.N.A. Practice Test to learn about the types of skills taught in these programs.  After attending classes and performing work in a clinical setting, students must pass the state's nursing aide certification exam.  Caregiverlist's practice test contains the certification exam questions.


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