The Senior Care Job Guide: Senior Care Job Options

Find the right type of senior care job for you

Are you looking for a career in which you can expect job growth as opposed to job loss? One area of consistent job growth even in difficult economic times is senior care.

Job options in this field include home care aides (who work either independently or for an agency); full-time live-in aides; health aides (who might work in a hospital, nursing home, assisted living, or rehabilitation facility); various kinds of nurses; and occupational, physical, mental health, and speech therapists.  One major consideration is whether you prefer to work in a facility or in a senior's home.

What home care aides and health aides do

Home care aides perform a variety of tasks that do not require medical training. Their assistance can make the difference between an elder remaining at home versus having to move to a nursing home. They can also provide much-needed respite care, freeing family members or others to take a break from their caregiving responsibilities. They can provide these services in either the senior's own home or in various types of facilities.

Tasks performed by a home care aide can include:

  • preparing meals and helping with eating
  • cleaning
  • doing laundry
  • changing bed linens
  • help with toileting and lifting out of bed or a chair
  • planning meals
  • assisting with medications
  • caring for wounds
  • providing companionship
  • help with dressing and showering
  • driving and helping with transportation
  • shopping and running errands

Health aides perform many of these same tasks, but might do so in a facility where they will be trained in some personal care or health-related tasks, such as blood pressure monitoring and administering medication.

What nurses and therapists do

Nurses provide various levels of nursing care and can do so either in the senior's home or in a facility.

Physical, occupational, mental health and speech therapists also work in both the senior's home or in facilities.

Desirable personality characteristics for people who work with seniors

It is helpful for people who work with elders to have the following qualities:

  • patience
  • tact
  • emotional stability
  • reliability
  • good communication
  • empathy
  • honesty
  • discretion
  • willingness to perform routine and repetitive tasks
  • ability to work independently

Insurance and training

Home care and health aides are generally supervised by a registered nurse or other medical or social services professional. Home care aides who work for a home care agency or facility can receive training, insurance and work assignments from their employer. Home care aides who work independently will have to find their own clients, provide their own health insurance, and also purchase liability insurance coverage in case they inadvertently harm a client. As independent contractors, home care aides can advertise their services on Care.com at no charge.

To stand out from other home care aides, it would help to get certified by The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) or Medicare. In order to be certified, a person has to complete a 75-hour course, pass a written exam, and be observed and certified to have 17 specific skills.

Nurses and therapists must take particular courses in college, specialized schools or graduate programs where they pass coursework, earn degrees, receive certification, and then become licensed in order to offer their services. Visit Care.com's College Caregivers page to find a home care aide or health aide at a nearby local college.

As you research job options, you'll want to assess how much to charge.

More Senior Care Resources

Sign-up to be a Senior Care Provider today!

Need help figuring out what kind of care you senior needs? Register today to talk to Care.com's Senior Care Planning staff.

Next: How Much to Charge for Senior Care »
Comments (2)
Ellen Jones
I am a licensed nurse and i live in dallas tx. how much should i charge for Senior care Giver?
Posted: June 09, 2013 at 10:34 AM
Photo of Cindy F.
Cindy F.
I live in winter haven florida? How much should i charge for Senior Care Giver. Going to be going to school for CNA License in the Spring. Thanks 1/4/2013.
Posted: January 04, 2013 at 12:17 PM
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