It’s one of the most common questions we get asked by a new client.  What services do caregivers provide?  

By law, home care in North Carolina is non-medical.  No license is required for an individual to be a caregiver.  While some might have a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license, many of the most compassionate and experienced caregivers are not CNAs.

Caregivers provide services ranging from companionship to full personal care, referred to as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).

A caregiver can engage mom in hobbies or other activities she enjoys.  One of our clients was into photography, and every morning the caregiver walked with him around the neighborhood so he could take pictures of nature.

Caregivers can read to (or with) the client, and assist with mail and correspondence.   One of our clients wanted someone who could type to help him with his email.

Assistance with making and getting to appointments is another area where a caregiver can assist.  They will provide transportation, either in their own car or that of the client.  If the caregiver uses her car, it would be typical to be reimbursed for mileage in addition to her time.  Most agencies use the IRS standard, which is approximately $.55 per mile.

Another common services is grocery shopping and meal prep.  Some caregivers are great cooks.  Even if they are not, all will do their best to follow a recipe and their clients’ instructions.   Many times, clients ask for help with washing and chopping fruit and veggies so they can make their own meals.

The list goes on and on.  Here are a few more things that our clients ask for:

  • Escort on walks
  • Respite care so a family member can have time off
  • Oversee home deliveries
  • Care for pets and plants
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Change linens/make beds

When care needs are more acute, mom might need assistance with her ADLs.  These include:

  • Bathing
  • Personal hygiene/grooming(brushing teeth, shaving, brushing/styling hair)
  • Dressing assistance
  • Toileting (getting to the commode, cleaning oneself, getting off the commode)
  • Transfers and ambulation (getting in and out of bed or chair and moving from one place to another safely)
  • Feeding oneself

The one thing you should NOT ask caregivers to do is dispense meds!  There is a liability involved with taking pills out of their containers and giving at the appropriate time of day.  This is magnified if mom takes many medications.

Caregivers can provide med reminders.  Just organize the meds yourself in a pill box according to time of day and the caregiver will make sure mom takes them at the right time.

(article feature photo via


About the Author:

Lorenzo Mejia and his wife, Mary Lynn Ryerson, are the owners of Acorn, a caregiver registry located in Chapel Hill.

They founded Acorn based on their experiences caring for his mom, who suffered with Alzheimer’s Disease.  In 2013, he became a Qualified Dementia Care Specialist.  In 2014, the Alzheimer’s Foundation named him the Dementia Care Professional of the Year in the United States.

Lorenzo is the founder of Dementia Friendly Orange County an effort to make local businesses more accommodating to people with dementia.

Lorenzo speaks often on dementia and the challenges associated with caring for loved ones.  He has been interviewed by ABC News and National Public Radio.  He is an advisor to Orange County’s OC-CARES Dementia Capable Community Project.

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Acorn provides screened and vetted in-home caregivers for clients with dementia, Alzheimer’s, ALS and other similar conditions. Options include 24/7, live-in, weekly, weekend or hourly care. Acorn serves Chapel Hill, Durham, Hillsborough, Pittsboro and surrounding areas in Orange, Chatham, Durham and Wake counties.