A caregiver is someone whose profession involves taking care of others.
The roles and responsibilities of every caregiver can be slightly different. A caregiver might be grocery shopping or cleaning the carpet one minute, discussing medicine dosage with the local pharmacy the next, or arranging transportation to a medical appointment. The caregiver is in charge of ensuring that the aging loved one receives consistent care, whatever that may involve.
Because this job can be difficult, it’s generally advisable to enlist the services of several people, both paid and unpaid, to help care for someone with special needs. Caregivers are not always external agents; children, spouses, or even neighbors may help with care. Caregiving is demanding work that can change daily as the requirements of the patient evolve.
With so many Americans preferring to remain at home in their old age (also known as “aging in place”), there is a growing requirement for caregivers to help them achieve dignity while enabling them to do so. It is a well-known fact that there is a growing shortage of caregivers; as such, it is imperative that families start to plan what care they will need for their loved ones at the earliest opportunity.
Because no two seniors’ demands are the same, each person’s caregiving requirements will vary. That said, there are many standard tasks involved in caregiving work that are likely to be completed at some time during the care cycle. As a professional caregiver, familiarizing yourself with this list is a smart idea.
Who Are Caregivers? The Responsibilities and Duties of Caregivers
The following tasks are commonly performed by senior caregivers.
1. Care planning and home management
It can be challenging to gauge how much commitment caregiving entails. It really depends on the person receiving the care. Creating a care plan to detail how the various tasks involved will be managed is an excellent technique to ensure sufficient coverage for all needs. A care plan should include input from a medical team, family members, and all service providers. A basic resource, time, and financial budget can be created from this to set adequate care expectations.
2. Medical assistance
While having one physician oversee all a senior’s care (preferably a geriatric specialist) is beneficial, caregivers and members of the patient’s family will still need to act as advocates to ensure that appointments are made, medications are properly prescribed and administered, and issues are identified and addressed before they become life-threatening. The caretaker may also be expected to review health insurance documentation, billing statements, and doctor’s instructions to ensure that the senior loved one is not being overcharged or treated in a way that is not in accordance with their care plan.
3. Managing prescription medications
It’s tempting to have the same individual manage everything because drugs belong under the healthcare umbrella. However, as people become older, their prescriptions can exponentially increase. Some patients may be taking more than a dozen different medications at once, necessitating the need to recruit a single devoted caregiver to handle the prescribing, modifications, administration, and pick-up of orders. This caregiver should also check on drug supplies on a regular basis. Because there may be a risk of pain prescriptions being stolen, controlled medications should be locked away and counted daily.
4. Personal hygiene and care assistance
Many elderly people only start to receive formal assistance after they have begun to struggle with the most fundamental aspects of daily life – sometimes known as ‘activities of daily living’ (ADLs). Getting help with using the toilet, showering, cleaning up after sickness, or washing and combing their hair can be a crucial part of aging in place. Because this is a sensitive subject, there will be a need for the caregiver to be patient and kind. You’ll also want anyone in charge of hygiene care to have experience working with the elderly.
5. Meal preparation and nutrition assistance
Asking a caregiver to cook and serve food isn’t enough. In reality, while many older people lose their appetites and consume fewer calories as they age, the food they consume must be nutritious. There’s also the question of whether certain foods would interfere with their prescriptions, or aggravate existing conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Anyone in charge of grocery shopping, meal planning, and food preparation should consult a nutritionist to ensure that all meals and snacks are in line with your loved one’s care plan.
6. Mobility assistance
Caregivers play a critical role in helping elderly people move safely, both inside and outside the home. This includes critical tasks such as knowing how to correctly transfer someone from a wheelchair to the bathroom and recognizing the indicators of someone being at risk of falling. To reduce the risk of injury, proper “transfer” methods (those used to move a patient from one position to another) are required. Caregiving may be taxing on the body of the person providing assistance and having the appropriate information can help you avoid making costly mistakes.
7. Housekeeping and basic upkeep
Cleaning and repair abilities are essential for a successful caretaker. They should have no difficulty assisting with the dishes and other household tasks. Knowing how to use a toilet plunger and being confident changing a lightbulb are just two examples of how a caregiver can save a senior money by avoiding unnecessary visits by home maintenance professionals.
8. Getting around
As individuals get older, they may feel compelled to withdraw from the outside world and avoid social situations. A kind caregiver can help them maintain some sense of normalcy by driving them to social gatherings and medical appointments. Having the ability to travel as they need and want will help in ensuring your loved one enjoys a healthy, fulfilled life.
9. Keeping them entertained
Caregivers are commonly referred to as “companions” in the industry, and with good cause. Relationships can make or break an older person’s ability to resist disease or adhere to a rigorous dietary requirement. If they have individuals around them who care about them, they will find it easier to deal with the day-to-day challenges associated with aging. Caregivers play a fundamental role in this process. This more casual component of caregiving is also one of the most crucial, from playing games to simply chatting over coffee.
10. Assisting with finances
While the senior’s finances are likely to be handled by someone else (typically a power of attorney), some support chores can be delegated to the carer. These tasks can range from mailing a utility payment to filing taxes. The individual in charge of these responsibilities should be trustworthy and capable. At the very least, everyone with access to bank accounts, checkbooks, or debit cards must pass a background check.
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