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How to Become A Caregiver for A Family Member

May 7, 2021

There are nearly 53 million seniors over the age of 65 in the United States. That number would be 1,925,649 in state of Illinois. The number of elderly in Illinois now ranks sixth among the states behind California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Only about 2.5 million of elderly people in united states live in nursing homes or assisted living, meaning the vast majority live at home. Becoming a paid caregiver for a family member is very common in united states. Many people assist seniors at home with activities of daily living; such as personal care services like bathing and dressing, as well as things like housekeeping, laundry, and meal planning for their loved one.

If your elderly parents or other relatives fit this description; you may be wondering how you can get them some help. Things like long term care insurance are expensive and don’t always cover the type of care needed. You’d love to help them yourself. But you just can’t take that much time off of work all the time.

The good news is; it may be possible for you to become a paid caregiver for your family member.


The Programs that can Help You Become a Paid Caregiver for A Family Member

Federal and state governments have recognized the value of having family members serve as paid caregivers for elderly people for some time. Back in the mid-1990s, trial government programs called “Cash and Counseling” were created in a few states in the Medicaid fund system.

The Medicaid office, known as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS[DM1] ) determined that because family members were often acting as unpaid caregivers and were unable to balance having a full time job with taking care of their elderly relatives, there was an opportunity to solve two problems at once by providing financial assistance to family caregivers.

In the years since, the term cash and counseling has been replaced in many places by “consumer-directed care” or “self-directed care.” In Illinois, the Cash and Counseling Program is now part of the Community Care Program through the Illinois Department on Aging.

The Process of Becoming a Paid Caregiver for A Family Member 

Paying family caregivers does take a little bit of time and effort, but the process is not too complicated when working with a home care agency. In order to become a paid caregiver for a family member in Illinois, you and the care recipient will need to go through a qualification process.

The elderly person receiving care will need to qualify for the program under the terms of Medicaid, and the caregiver will need to undergo some training and screening as well, like a background check. After that, the process is a little like this:

  • Assessment – Case workers from the care program will meet with your elderly relative to determine what kind of care is needed. Some may need more assistance with everyday activities in their home than others.
  • Care Plan – After the initial assessment, the case worker will draw up a care plan that outlines the personalized assistance that is needed for your elderly relative.
  • Training – While these steps are in progress, the program that pays for care should also provide you the training required for you to participate. Working with a home care agency is beneficial at this point, as some home care agencies provide paid training as a way to help get you started as a paid caregiver.

When the process is complete, your home care agency will provide you with a copy of the care plan and the documentation you’ll need to complete in order to fulfill the requirements of the program and get paid.

Types of Services that Paid Caregivers Provide

Types of Services that Paid Caregivers Provide:

The assistance programs that allow you to become a paid caregiver for your elderly relatives center around what are called “Activities of Daily Living” (ADLs). These are the types of activities that elderly people may have more difficulty with, thus requiring your help. Generally, they fall into several categories such as:

Personal Care

This includes everyday activities like bathing, dressing and toileting. Elderly people with decreased mobility and fine motor skills may have more difficulty performing these tasks on their own, and an in-home caregiver can be helpful.

Meal Preparation and Planning

One of the keys to staying healthy while aging in place is to eat a well balanced nutritious meals. Often, elderly people will feel too tired to cook healthy meals. And may rely on options that are more convenient but less healthy, like frozen dinners. An in-home caregiver can help with meal planning, grocery shopping, preparation and clean up so that healthy meals are always available. Since you are more likely to know what your elderly relatives like and don’t like; it should be easy to find meals that they will enjoy.

Medication Reminders & Management

Most elderly people take multiple medications; that need to be taken at a specific time of day, or before or after meals. It’s not always easy to remember when to take them, especially for elderly retired people for whom the days can sometimes run together and who don’t always have to adhere to a schedule in their daily lives.

Light Housekeeping and Laundry

Taking care of the home is vital to the health and safety of seniors who live at home. And laundry can be an especially difficult challenge, as heavy loads of clothing can wear out an elderly person quickly.


Whether it’s picking up a prescription or going to the post office. Leaving the house can be more difficult than the effort it would take is worth. Having a caregiver who can run simple errands like these makes things a little easier.

Brain Games & Activities

Staying mentally sharp can be a chore for elderly people who live alone. Board games, puzzles, and activities like scrapbooking and painting can go a long way towards keeping a senior mentally fit.

Companionship & Social Interaction

Similarly, the positive effects of having regular communications with another person cannot be understated. Many seniors become isolated when they live alone, and that can lead to things like depression and declining physical health. Having someone to talk to provides seniors the benefits of companionship.

Organization & Technology

It’s no secret that technology can be confusing to seniors who live at home. An at-home caregiver can help seniors manage technology, whether it’s setting up a tablet for video chats with family members, or just learning how to find favorite TV channels on the remote. Additionally, caregivers support the senior by helping to organize bills and other important paperwork.

Navigating the Challenges of Becoming a Paid Caregiver

While becoming a paid caregiver for an elderly relative can be a rewarding experience. And can help you feel closer to your elderly loved one, that’s not to say there aren’t significant challenges to be faced. Taking care of your own elderly parent can be difficult, especially if they are resistant to change or don’t think they need the level of care being provided.

You also may run into issues because your elderly family members are used to providing care to you. Also, when you act as a paid caregiver for aging parents, other family members such as siblings may not understand or approve of the care you provide, leading to conflicts.

Of course these challenges can all be managed with open lines of communication. But it’s another reason the process is so important. As a caregiver; you can always point to the care plan as; the authority on what you should and shouldn’t be doing as an in-home caregiver.


Working with a Home Care Agency as a Paid Caregiver

An important aspect of any caregiver relationship is; to have a professional home care agency caregiver that can provide a caregiver support at every step of the process. A home care agency can provide the knowledge and training necessary for you; to succeed in your role as a caregiver. But they can also provide things like respite care for when you need time away.

Having a professional home care agency can also be important to ensure; that your elderly relative’s care is provided without any paperwork problems or bureaucratic delays. You may also find that; being a paid caregiver is a rewarding career and wish to take on other care recipients as well.

Veteran Directed Home & Community Based Care

The VA offers Veteran Directed Care (VDC), previously called Veteran Directed Home and Community Based Services (VD-HCBS), for veterans of all ages who are enrolled in the VA’s medical benefits package. Through this consumer directed option, veterans who require skilled services and assistance with daily living activities, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, preparation of meals, and medication management, are given an individualized budget to obtain the assistance they require.

With this flexible monthly budget, veterans are able to choose how they spend it, whether it is purchasing items to aid independence or hiring a caregiver to provide homemaker and personal care assistance. This includes the ability to hire relatives, even spouses, adult children, and grandchildren, to provide the needed care.

The caregiver rate of pay is hourly, which is nationally set by the VA Health Administration, and adjusted at a local level. The veteran works with a financial management service that handles the financial aspects of being an “employer’, such as making payments for care and services. Clearly stated, veterans do not receive cash via this program, but rather they have a budget in which there is flexibility in how they spend it.

Home Care Powered by AUAF can Help You Become a Paid Caregiver

Home Care Powered by AUAF is a home care agency; that can help walk you through the process of becoming a paid caregiver for your elderly relative living at home. We provide paid training and a competitive wage. While handling the necessary paperwork to get your loved one the care they need. Call us at 773-274-9262 or contact us today to see how the dedicated and professional team at Home Senior Care Powered by AUAF can help.


other related articles:

How to Become a Paid Caregiver for a Family Member in 4 Steps

Six Ways New Caregivers Can Succeed

Caregiving for a Stubborn Elderly Loved One

A Guide for New Caregivers


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