When it comes to professional caregiving, you are never alone. There are dozens of professional associations to help you every step of the way, from becoming a certified CNA to obtaining your continuing education units to getting through a difficult time while experiencing burnout. Here are some associations that have earned a solid reputation as acclaimed resources for professional caregivers on the frontlines of aging care.

The American Society on Aging (ASA): This nationally recognized resource is dedicated to cultivating leadership, advancing knowledge, and strengthening the necessary skill set of caregivers who have made it their career to work on behalf of other, older adults. They often conduct web seminars and are offering online gerontology and leadership courses. They also host multiple forums for business and professional caregiving.

The American Geriatrics Society (AGS): This professional association is known for developing and publishing relevant studies related to improving care for older adults. They are a non-profit organization whose main goal in supporting caregiving professionals is to alter public policy through research and advocacy to improve senior healthcare and increase the number of caregiving professionals in the field. Their mission is to enable professionals to improve the independence, health, and quality of life for all older adults through a person-centered model of care. They provide an online collaboration forum for professionals to extend their network and connect with other professionals to offer support.

Alzheimer's Association: Their mission to eliminate Alzheimer's sets them apart on a national level. This association is for all involved in the care of an aging person afflicted with this disease and other dementias. They offer professional membership to the International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment (ISTAART) that includes not only other professionals, but scientists and physicians all dedicated to the treatment and cure of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. They offer professional development and training through an annual conference, open access to their research journal, free publications, an education and resource center, and networking forums.

The Gerontological Society of America: the non-profit organization is a multi-branched association to further standards and policy for higher education, research, practice environment, gerontological nursing, and adult vaccinations. They publish multiple, evidence-based scientific journals, have career resource centers, and hold scientifically-based, professional meetings and leadership meetings. They promote online resource sharing, including multidisciplinary interest groups to collaborate on hot topic issues in the field today to create change agents who will further progress all areas of healthy aging.

National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC): While aimed at family caregiving, the nonprofit collaboration of multiple organizations offers a professional caregiving resource center that focuses on helping experts to work with family caregivers to promote the best care possible. They are a leader in policy analysis and legislation tracking for all aspects of caregiving. They aim to strengthen local and state caregiving coalitions on an international level through research, innovation, and advocacy. They are working on developing national programs in order to create greater awareness of the need to improve quality of life care for the elderly and their families. NAC is the Secretariat for the International Alliance of Carer Organizations that is dedicated to recognizing and facing caregiving issues around the world.

Caregivers are often unsung heroes. There is no way to effectively navigate the waters of your career all alone. Over the next thirty years, as science is raising areas of concern such as better nutrition, advances in technology, and healthcare improvements, this informs and also challenges the daily practices of professional caregivers around the world. Caregivers work under difficult conditions, and when there is not an infrastructure in place for education, community planning, support, and development, they are more susceptible to burnout and health problems. Professional caregiving associations are leading the way for future progress and support to professional caregivers on the front line.

Sources

ASA. Available at http://www.asaging.org/. Last Visited January 23, 2016.

AGS. Available at http://www.americangeriatrics.org/. Last Visited January 23, 2016.

Alzheimer's Association. Available at http://www.alz.org/. Last Visited January 23, 2016.

Carter, Rosalyn. (2008). Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2008/jan/pdf/07_0162.pdf. Last Visited January 23, 2016.

National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC). Available at http://www.caregiving.org/resources/for-professionals/. Last Visited January 23, 2016.

The Gerontological Society of America. Available at https://www.geron.org/. Last Visited January 23, 2016.

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