A caregiver is generally referred to as a person who takes care of a friend, neighbor, or loved one who’s suffering from a disability or health condition In some cases, the caregiver is a professional whose job is to provide long-term or respite care for the elderly.
As we get older, accomplishing daily activities becomes harder especially if we have mobility and memory issues. Also, with sons and daughters moving out and having their own families, living alone can be quite depressing and lonely.
Fortunately, hiring a caregiver may help address these problems and even lessen the burden on family members. Read on to learn more about caregivers, the benefits of hiring one, resources, and additional tips you should know.
Benefits of Hiring a Caregiver
Hiring a caregiver offers a lot of benefits to your elderly loved one including:
- Companionship - Seniors tend to experience chronic loneliness and isolation especially if they have no one to talk to and if they have mobility problems that prevent them from socializing. Hiring a caregiver not only helps seniors in their daily tasks but s/he can also provide companionship. According to MeetCaregivers, having a companion will help seniors enjoy more activities like watching movies, drinking coffee, cooking, and gardening. Not only that, according to Banner Health, having a companion can also help in keeping the elderly safe while traveling, visiting friends, or attending checkups.
- Accomplishing daily tasks - Doing tasks like bathing, cleaning, and cooking becomes slower and more difficult for seniors as they get older. Thus, Hiring a caregiver not only helps them accomplish these tasks, but s/he can also ensure the elderly’s safety especially if s/he is suffering from a disability or memory problem.
- Monitored health - If you notice your elderly loved one becoming more forgetful with their medications and doctor appointments, it might be time to hire a caregiver. Caregivers can be a big help in keeping track of medication schedules to ensure that there are no skips and overdosage. They can be helpful in setting reminders for doctor appointments and other important errands as well.
- Health and Safety - Seniors living alone are more prone to falls especially those who have certain medical conditions. In fact, according to CDC, about 36 million fall cases are reported each year, and about 32,000 of them cause death among older adults. If your elderly loved one lives alone, it may be a necessity to hire a caregiver. In this way, you’ll be assured that there will always be someone to look after your loved one 24/7.
Hiring a caregiver also offers benefits to loved ones who are taking care of their elderly parents:
- Peace of mind - Knowing that a caregiver is always there to look after your elderly loved one, you’ll be more at ease while working or tending to your own family.
- Reassurance - Even if you are capable of taking care of your elderly loved one, it may come to a point that taking care of him/her will demand more of your time and attention, which can be more difficult. A high-quality caregiver can help tend to your loved one’s needs and even provide the necessary medical attention you never thought is needed.
- More personal time - Taking care of the elderly can demand most of your time and energy considering that you need to keep an eye on him/her 24/7. Hiring a caregiver can help you breathe and give you more time for yourself and your children. If you need a break from taking care of your elderly, you can also avail of respite care services from the hospital or your healthcare provider to give you time off but not for the sake of your loved one’s health.
Duties of Caretaker
Caregivers provide a wide range of assistance services needed by your elderly loved one. Their duties include:
- They are advocates - patients can be a bit reserved, meaning they may not completely state how much pain and what exact symptoms they are experiencing, but since caregivers observe their patients 24/7, they have a more objective view of the patient’s condition which then can be communicate with the doctor.
- They provide personal care - Personal care such as bathing, cleaning, brushing teeth, or changing clothes are just some of the caregiver’s personal care duties for disabled patients.
- They provide emotional support - Aside from personal care, caregivers also provide emotional support to their patients primarily in times of critical diagnoses, which in truth can be quite overwhelming. They also act as their patient’s companion, confidante, and listener, which are a big help, especially for seniors experiencing loneliness and depression.
- They provide medical care - From accompanying patients to medical appointments, taking notes, to administering medications, caregivers play a vital role. They can even be more experienced in tending to their patient’s medical needs than other family members.
- They help with household tasks - Tasks like washing the laundry, dishes, and the house are just some of the functions caregivers can do especially if their elderly patient is no longer capable of doing these tasks.
A good caregiver also possesses the following skills and personality
- Patient-centered - This means that caregivers should always inform his/her elderly patient about schedules, medications, and diagnoses in a way that they will receive them positively.
- Emphatic - This means that a caregiver should be understanding of the patient’s condition and be a good listener whenever necessary. In this way, there will be open communication between the caregiver and the patient.
- Time management skills - Caregiving may demand a lot of one’s time, considering all the tasks at home and the patient’s personal care routines. Caregivers with good time management skills can be good candidates for elderly patients with severe medical conditions. This is because they can accomplish all tasks even how much or how heavy it is.
- Interpersonal skills - Good interpersonal skills help establish rapport and honest communication between the patient and the caregiver.
- Organizing and housekeeping skills - Experienced caregivers have expert skills in organizing and housekeeping, which is a good factor for the efficient and quick accomplishment of tasks.
Who Needs a Caregiver?
Are you starting to have difficulties keeping up with daily house chores? Or are you a busy person who has difficulty managing time caring for an elderly loved one? Maybe its time to hire a caregiver, which is ideal if:
- Your elderly loved one has Dementia
- Your elderly loved one has mobility issues
- You and your loved one prefer in-home care
- You need a break from taking care of your loved one
Where Can I Find a Caregiver?
There are many medical and health agencies that provide caregiving services. You can start looking for available caregivers by visiting the nearest hospital or asking your healthcare provider. You can also consider the following caregiver resources that might be helpful:
- LongTermCare.gov - A type of federal program that you can access through the Administration for Community Living. This is a good resource option for seniors who need long-term care.
- ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center - If you are a loved one looking for respite care, ARCH is a good choice for you. It’ll help you find programs and resources for your care needs.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) - VA also offers caregiving services to patients who have served in the military. If you think you are qualified for this program, visit this va.gov to start.
Tips to Keep in Mind Before Hiring a Caregiver
It’s crucial to make sure that you or your loved one will receive quality care service. That’s why before hiring a caregiver, you should consider several factors first. Below is a list of tips you should keep in mind when looking for a caregiver.
- Know caregiver qualifications - Before hiring a potential caregiver, it’s crucial to do a lot of research. Know the qualifications of a caregiver that suits you or your loved one’s needs.
- Check credentials - Caregiver credentials are another crucial requirement to look for in a caregiver. This will help you assess his/her experiences, skills, and expertise. Credentials are also proof of whether s/he is suitable for the job.
- Ask for referrals - Referrals from your healthcare provider or doctor are also reliable sources for quality caregivers since they have many connections in the medical field.
A caregiver plays a vital role in keeping your elderly loved one’s overall health especially if s/he is living alone or is suffering from certain conditions. However, hiring a caregiver should include a thorough review. This means that you should know caregiver qualifications, the caregiver’s credentials, and doctor referrals.