More than three-quarters of people over the age of 50 want to remain in their homes as they get older, according to a 2021 survey by the AARP. Many people and their families consider hiring professional in-home care (directly or through a home aide agency) to help make this happen.
As a home care aide, you are part of a growing industry designed to help aging adults live comfortably in their own homes. The services you provide to patients are vital to their safety and wellbeing. Your work can also provide families with peace of mind, knowing that their loved one is well cared for and that their needs are being met by a professional caretaker.
Caring for seniors may be an adjustment if you typically work with younger patients. Here are some caregiver tips for providing in-home care to aging adults.
Understand the Patient’s Needs
Your patients come first, so it’s essential that you understand what they will need from you. Is this a full-time or part-time role? Will you only assist with everyday tasks in their home, or do they need help running errands? Do they expect you to be friendly yet professional, or do they want you to become “part of the family”?
While you will certainly talk to the patient about this, you may also want to hear from their family too. You may seek input from their spouse, children, grandchildren, or other family members if they are also involved in the patient’s care.
Assess the Situation
As people age, they may need to make changes to their homes to help keep them safe and accessible. You may be asked to provide advice on this as their home care aide. Doing a walkthrough of a patient’s home or following them throughout a normal day could help you see areas where changes could be made.
Common changes made to improve patient safety and accessibility include:
- Installing a stairlift to allow safe access to the second floor
- Adding a shower chair to the bathroom to prevent slip and fall accidents
- Moving them to a downstairs bedroom so they don’t have to travel up stairs
- Buying an adjustable bed that is easier to get in and out of
- Adding ramps to entryways to help prevent trips and falls on stairs
- Moving frequently used items in the kitchen or bathroom to lower shelves
Understanding the layout of a patient’s home and their normal routine can also help you plan your day as their carer. You’ll have a better idea of when and where they may need the most help from you throughout the day.
Develop a Plan
Once you understand your role as a home care aide and the duties you’ll be performing, you can start to create a patient care plan. This might include short-term care goals (such as recovering from surgery or an illness) and long-term goals prescribed by the patient’s doctors. For example, you may play a part in helping your patient maintain a healthy weight if you assist with grocery shopping and meal preparation.
Your plan might also include day-to-day activities, like bathing, housework, running errands, or going to doctor appointments. Some of these may need to be planned around other activities, but some could be scheduled on the same day every week.
Help Them Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Helping patients maintain a healthy lifestyle is often part of a home care aide’s role. Caring for seniors is no different. In fact, they may have more health considerations you need to track than some other patients.
There are many factors to living a healthy life. Nutrition and exercise are big parts of this. Your patients may have diet and fitness plans created by their doctors that you will need to help them follow. You may also need to think about their social needs, such as regularly visiting with friends and family and providing some companionship yourself.
Caring for others can be draining, both physically and mentally. It’s important that you look after your own safety and wellbeing. As a worker, you may also need to take steps to protect your finances. You might consider different ways of doing this.
Establishing boundaries between you and your patient could help you protect your mental health. While you will likely form a close relationship with your patient (and possibly their family), it’s important to also remain professional. There may be times when you need a break, and you should develop gentle yet firm ways to voice your needs and concerns.
Business insurance can also help you protect yourself as a home care aide. Caregiver insurance (policies designed with the unique needs of the job in mind) could help shield your bank account from everyday risks that you may face at work. Common types of insurance for in-home caregivers that you might consider are:
- General Liability – Patient injuries or accidental property damage happen even when you’re being careful. This type of insurance protects you if your actions cause a patient to injure themselves or you unintentionally damage their belongings.
- Professional Liability – When a family puts their loved one’s care in your hands, they hold you to a high standard. Claims of negligence (whether they are true or not) could result in an expensive lawsuit.
- Workers’ Compensation – If you run a home aide agency, you may be required to have this coverage before you hire your first employee to protect against workplace injuries and serious illnesses.
Providing Care for Patients in Need
Caring for seniors could be an excellent career choice if you enjoy helping others. The assistance you provide as a home care aide may help people remain in their homes during their final years. We hope these caregiver tips are helpful as you set out on your career path!
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