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What Qualities Do You Need to Become an Elderly Care Worker?

Updated February 21, 2017

Elderly care workers take care of older citizens who need assistance performing everyday tasks. They work in old age homes, retirement communities, hospitals and rehabilitation centres. Being an elderly care worker can be very challenging and stressful at times, and only individuals with the right qualities and credentials should consider this career. In general, the current job outlook is quite good for elderly care workers in America, as life expectancies increase and baby boomers reach their golden years.

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Personal Qualities

Elderly care workers need certain personal qualities to get involved in the career and be successful. Candidates should be patient, kind individuals who enjoy helping others on a daily basis. Elderly care workers often have to bathe their patients, help them use the toilet and perform other grooming tasks, so it's important that they be comfortable with this aspect of the job. Very squeamish individuals should not consider this career. Elderly care workers should be able to relate to older people, listen to their stories and help them feel at ease.


Elderly care workers also need a certain skill set to be able to handle the demands of the profession. Strong communications skills, both written and spoken, are important in this job. Planning and organizational skills are also essential, especially for individuals working with big groups of elderly people in retirement communities. Teamwork skills are important, as most elderly care workers have to collaborate with other members of the hospital or rehabilitation centre staff. Elderly care workers often have to lift handicapped people out of their beds or wheelchairs, so it's important to be in good physical shape and not have any back or muscle problems.

Educational Background

The required educational background of an elderly care worker varies and depends on his position. In general, a bachelor's or associate's degree in nursing is preferred, and many individuals even have a master's degree. Aspiring elderly care workers usually study general nursing to learn the basics, and later focus their coursework and clinical experience on geriatric nursing.


Employers generally prefer to hire elderly care workers who have lots of experience working with older people. Gain relevant experience in this field is by volunteering at a retirement home, hospital, rehabilitation centre or other place that provides services for the elderly. You may wind up reading to a group of elderly people, or helping them go grocery shopping. Nearly any experience working in the health and services industry is relevant and useful in this career.

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About the Author

Charlie Higgins is journalist, editor and translator based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has written for a variety of lifestyle and niche market websites, including International Food Trader, The Olive Oil Times, microDINERO, Sounds and Colours, Connecting Worlds and The Buenos Aires Reader.

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