This article was written by Christine Kristanich, the Caregiver Homes Branch Manager for Columbus, Ohio.

Elders and individuals with disabilities who require daily assistance with personal care may need extra support to live and thrive in their communities. One of the biggest challenges in providing supports to elders and people with disabilities is identifying individuals who are willing and able to assume the role of caregiver. Sometimes family members are able to provide around-the-clock care, but many non-family caregivers also choose to take on this important role. Here are three key traits that can help a non-family caregiver be successful at providing this level of in-home care.

1. Interest. For some people, caregiving is their calling in life. They might want to make a difference in their communities by caring for someone at home in a family setting. Often, those of us who are professionals in the field first define people by their needs and diagnoses.

A caregiver especially should be interested in getting to know the consumer as an individual with likes, needs, dreams, challenges, and goals. Consumers and caregivers alike benefit from forming a meaningful relationship.

2. Commitment. Caregiving requires commitment. Not only does it require a time commitment, but also a dedication to creating a new household. Living with someone and caring for them around-the-clock allows people to get to know each other at their best and worst. This new family unit should take some time to assess what role each person plays and what they can each contribute to creating a happy home.

3. Experience. If you are interested in becoming a caregiver, it is helpful to have experience providing care to someone else. This experience can be gained in professional, formal settings like a nursing home or group home, as well as in informal, personal settings like assisting a neighbor with grocery shopping or caring for a friend who is recovering from an operation. An effective caregiver is interested in learning about ways to provide better care. That's why at Caregiver Homes, our team provides ongoing training so caregivers can continue to gain useful information about caregiving.

Caregiving has a unique set of responsibilities and emotional rewards. It is important to remember that great caregivers do not need to be related to the consumer—they just need to provide care like family.