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How Do I Become a Caregiver for Dementia Patients?

Caregiver for Dementia

More than 15 million people in the United States are informal, unpaid caregivers for a family member who has Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.

Formal caregivers are paid care providers. They provide care in a home or care setting (residential home, continuing care communities, nursing homes, etc.).

If your spouse, parent, or another family member has dementia, you can become their paid caregiver. You may be eligible for spousal pay if you have a residence in one of the following U.S. states:

  • Kansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Vermont

These states have assistance programs that allow a beneficiary to select whomever they would like as a caregiver.

However, if you want to become a care provider for a family member with dementia, the first thing to do is to learn more about your loved one’s health condition and to obtain a caregiving training. This will help you to better assist the dementia patient with their activities of daily living (ADLs), help you prepare with challenges of dementia, and teach you effective stress-coping strategies.

Learning About Dementia

Dementia is a group of symptoms that involve a severe decline in cognitive functioning, behavioral abilities, and social skills. The intensity of dementia symptoms ranges from mild cases to the most severe stage when the symptoms affect all aspects of the person’s life. At this stage, the dementia patient becomes fully dependent on others for basic ADLs and care.

The most common type of progressive dementia is Alzheimer’s disease that accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases in older adults. Other common types of dementia include Vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, Frontotemporal dementia, and Mixed dementia.

Caring for a person with dementia is not easy. Dementia patients often suffer from depression and mood swings. Your family members with dementia may often feel sad hopeless, cry a lot, be confused, and appear agitated and irritated. These emotions usually trigger anger and aggression in dementia patients, which can make caregiving duties more challenging and stressful.

Caregiving Training

There are online caregiving courses available to help you develop the skills to care for someone with dementia.

Also, many community resources such as Aging and Adult Services offer valuable information and training for caregivers. They are also a great place to meet with other caregivers and create a strong support system.

Learning and practicing the caregiving skills is vital to providing good-quality care to the person with dementia. However, caregiving training will also help you learn how to look after yourself and build strong coping strategies to manage caregiving stress.

Becoming a Specialized Caregiver

If you are passionate about caring for others, you may become a specialized caregiver and help ease the burden on families with dementia patients.

You must be 18 years of age and older before applying for a specialized caregiver position. Also, you must have paid or unpaid experience caring for someone with dementia (15 hours per week one year) and be trained in dementia care (at least 15 hours in the previous two years). Lastly, you will need to pass an exam to become a Certified Alzheimer’s Caregiver.