Senior Living: Is Caregiving part of your 2nd Act?


By BETH DOW, Senior Living Advice

Are you retired but not tired? Over the hill but not in the ground yet?  Are you looking for a low stress job that is not only rewarding, but could be a lifesaver to someone else?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, becoming a professional caregiver or companion may just be the answer to your search.

Not sure if being a professional caregiver or companion is for you?  Here is a quiz for you.  Do you enjoy working with people and enjoy jobs where you have one-on-one interaction with others?  Do you like doing work that has the potential to make a difference in someone’s life?

Do you like doing a variety of tasks in a day?  Are you definitely NOT a “not my job” type of person?  Do you like making someone smile and doing little things to make a person’s day better?   Do you take pride in your attention to detail?  Do you like using your body as well as your brain? And are not really interested in investing a lot of time in formal education, but you are willing to learn new skills and take continuing education to do your job well?

If you are beginning to get excited about the possibilities, here is some additional  information for you to know.  There are basically two types of caregiving – Companion Care and Personal Care.  Companion Care involves assistance that does not require “touching” your client.  Basically transportation, light housekeeping, cooking, and companionship.  Personal care includes Companion Care but in addition involves help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) which are dressing, eating, bathing, toileting and transferring.

You can become qualified to provide care via two routes –  the PCA route or the CNA route.  To become a Personal Care Assistant (PCA), your past experience in caregiving, even family caregiving, is taken into consideration.  Skills are reviewed or taught by the workplace RN.  You will need to pass a 100-question state test and can usually begin work very quickly after hire. If you want to be a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), you need to complete a state-approved course that will take between 3 weeks to 3 months depending on the program and  will cost between $400 to $1500. You then must also pass the Nurse Aide Exam at an additional cost of $224.

In most cases you can work in a private home through a Home Care Agency or a Personal Care home with a PCA or CNA.   However, you will more likely need to be a CNA to work in assisted living, memory care, hospice, or a hospital.

Working in a private home setting typically gives you more flexibility in your schedule and the number of hours you work in a shift. It also allows the opportunity to work one-on-one with someone.  On the other hand, working in a facility can give the camaraderie of interaction with others daily that you may be missing.   

If you are interested in being a companion or a personal caregiver, the need for people like you is great!  Many Home Care Agencies and senior communities need you.  If you are interested in home care, you can apply to Home Helpers by visiting to start the application process.


Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd and Geriatric Care Manager. Readers can contact her at [email protected].

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