Senior Caregiver Duties
If your loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or if they are simply getting older, they may need caregiving and general support. Some people provide general health care, transportation, and meal prep to their aging family members by hiring a qualified caregiver. Others decide to take on the responsibilities themselves. Regardless of which path you take, it’s important to understand what these duties entail. These responsibilities can be wide-ranging and tailored to each individual and family. In this article, we will try to provide you with a general sense of what caregiver duties are.
What is a Caregiver?
Caregivers deal with the well-being and health of an individual who requires help with everyday activities. This can be due to the person being injured, struggling with mobility, being ill, or having a chronic condition. In all of these instances, daily tasks can become difficult.
Often, people restrict caregiving to caring for the health of a loved one. In actuality, it can be a lot more extensive. It can go beyond medical care and can be customized to fit the needs of the person that is being cared for. Duties can also vary depending on what the caregiver’s relationship is with the person they are taking care of. A large number of caregivers are family members or friends; their relationship with the elderly or ill person is very different from the relationship between a hired professional and a patient. Caregiving can be stressful and it is not something you should undertake without prior consideration. However, it can also be really rewarding and joyful. It can be nice to feel needed and to know that you are helping someone else.
What Do Caregiver Duties Include?
Caregiver duties can range from shopping for meals to cleaning the house. Caregivers may need to speak with pharmacists or arrange transportation for a doctor’s appointment. They can be a spouse, parent, child, hired help, a friend, etc. Since the needs of loved ones may change often, duties can also change daily. However, there are some tasks that are commonly included in caregiver duties.
Caregiver Duties for Aging Loved Ones
- Meal Preparation
- Light Housekeeping
- Personal Care
- Medication Management
- General Health Care
- Mobility Assistance
- Emotional Support
- Financial Accountability
- Reporting and Monitoring
As we age, it becomes even more important that our diet is nutrient-dense. Unfortunately, cooking meals can be difficult for our older or sick loved ones. Elderly or ill patients may not have the energy to cook and sometimes, memory or balance issues can make it unsafe for them to work in the kitchen. The caregiver will have to plan a menu that fits the dietary needs and personal tastes of the patient. Caregivers will also do the grocery shopping, and any other preparations necessary. They will have to consider allergies and make sure that the food they cook does not react badly with the patient’s medications. As our loved ones get older, they might lose their appetites and eat much less than before. This is why caregivers must consult nutritionists and ensure that all meals are a good fit for the patient.
As your loved ones get older, housekeeping chores can become challenging for them. They may need assistance with organizing, cleaning, packing for trips, or general house care. In this case, caregiver duties will include washing dishes, taking out the garbage, dusting, and vacuuming. Caregivers should know the basics of keeping a house clean and livable. They should be comfortable with small things like using a toilet plunger or changing a lightbulb. At times, they may need to shovel snow, rake leaves, and do other maintenance tasks around the house. When elderly or sick loved ones have help with the upkeep of their living environment, staying at home instead of moving to an unfamiliar assisted living facility becomes possible.
An important part of caregiver duties – though often overlooked – is providing companionship to the person you are caring for. If you are caring for a family member or a friend, your relationship may be strengthened through the process.
Among seniors, loneliness is a common issue that can lead to depression. This, in turn, lowers the person’s quality of life. We have all heard stories of grandparents waiting all year for the Christmas gathering to see their family. Many seniors struggle with loneliness in between big events such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc. A caregiver is someone who can provide the needed everyday companionship and offer emotional support. By having a caregiver, patients also gain someone they can speak with daily; someone who can be a source of stability for them. Caregivers may even encourage their elderly loved ones or patients to find new hobbies and friendships.
If you decide to hire a caregiver, some agencies will allow you to choose professionals according to the patient’s interests and personality, making the boding process easier. Having a companion also encourages the patient to fight against the illness, giving them a purpose to live for the people who care about them.
Usually, caregiving becomes a topic of conversation when an elderly or sick loved one starts needing help with small everyday tasks. Simple things like getting dressed, brushing teeth, bathing, exercising, or going to the bathroom can become tiresome. Sometimes, seniors will even neglect their hygiene. This is why caregiver duties involve personal care such as grooming and assisting with the daily hygiene routine. Caregivers should try to help when the individual is struggling but also remember that the patient should be as independent as possible.
Personal care can be a delicate topic, approach it carefully when speaking with your loved one. If you are not the one giving care, make sure you hire someone who is patient and has experience with personal care.
Elderly loved ones will also start consuming more medications each day. Currently, seniors take five medications per day on average and a lot of them are not doing it properly. It can become difficult to remember which medication has a dangerous interaction with the other. It can also become impossible for seniors to remember when or if they have taken a specific pill.
Health is the most important factor in caregiving and so, caregiver duties should include monitoring medications, tracking consumption, educating the elderly or sick about their prescriptions, checking regularly on medication supply, and being attentive to controlled substances within the home.
General Health Care
Though medications are a major part of the senior’s health care, caregiver duties extend beyond that in many cases. Caregivers may also need to check pain levels and discuss the patient’s health with medical professionals. Though a caregiver may not be able to take on in-depth checkups or other medical procedures, health monitoring and basic care should be within the scope of their abilities. They can set a specific care plan and follow it to make this aspect of their work a bit easier. This care plan should be reviewed regularly. Patients and families should think about what’s working, what is not, and what needs to be changed.
Mobility assistance is one of the major caregiving duties to consider. For the elderly and physically impaired, moving around can be both difficult and risky. Caregivers should try their best to prevent any injuries caused by falls and help their loved one or patient stay safe.
Mobility assistance can include moving someone from the wheelchair to the toilet, helping them walk longer distances, transferring them from their home to the car. This type of caregiving can be physically difficult for the helper as well; so, knowing the correct techniques is vital.
Along with mobility, caregiver duties can include taking care of the patient’s transportation. Transportation can be a big concern for the elderly and the ill. A lot of elderly people refuse to give up their driving privileges, putting themselves and others at risk. To remedy this situation, caregivers can take patients to appointments, pharmacies, and stores.
Some seniors may have opposite issues. They may start to withdraw and stop going out as they age. A caregiver can ease the anxiety associated with transportation and encourage patients to attend social events, visit museums, and so on.
Though caregivers are rarely the ones handling a patient’s finances alone (seniors and other individuals who need care usually have a power of attorney), some financial accountability may be placed on the caregiver. Responsibilities can include mailing payments, filling out taxes, communicating with the senior’s bank, etc.
Reporting and Monitoring
Caregiver duties include reporting and monitoring. This entails being on the lookout for “red flags”, and tracking changes in the person’s health and mood. Caregivers should document what happens during the day and plan out appropriate solutions for any issues that may arise.
This list of caregiver duties is not exhaustive. There are other tasks that may come up, depending on the needs of the patient or loved one. We hope that you found helpful information in this article. Remember that caregiving can be a difficult task and if necessary, there is nothing wrong with seeking help.
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