What Is the Role of a Caregiver?
Posted: August 23, 2022
Caregivers play a significant role in many older adults’ lives. Their unconditional dedication and support allow many individuals to gain the confidence to go about their day despite any mental or physical challenges they may face.
Finding the right caregiver for your loved one is a rewarding journey that can benefit all family members. Seeing your parent improve with the help of a trusted individual can make their lives, as well as your own, much more manageable. Whether you plan to become a caregiver for your parents or hire a caregiver, rest assured that your loved one will receive the best quality care by first understanding the requirements within this role.
What Is a Caregiver?
If your aging loved one shows signs of limited mobility or a decrease in mental capacity, investing in caregiving services can be beneficial for their recovery and quality of life. An injury, chronic illness, memory loss and restricted movement are all reasons that older adults and their relatives seek out the help of a caregiver. These conditions make everyday tasks a bit more challenging to complete. When you start noticing these signs, this is the perfect time for a trusted caregiver to step in to make daily life easier for the individual.
Caregivers come from various backgrounds to help older adults all have different conditions that require the help of a caregiver. Sometimes, an individual may have a family member be a caregiver or ask a close friend to provide caregiving services. This route can prove beneficial for those who are not as comfortable speaking about their health with someone unfamiliar. Providing care for senior parents can feel more natural for the whole family as each relative can take part in delivering regular care best suited for their personal needs.
On the other hand, some caregivers are social workers or work for an assisted living community. These professionals have the knowledge and training to provide quality care for those who require medicinal treatment and exercise. This option is perfect for people who need or prefer round-the-clock services or long-term care.
Every approach to hiring a caregiver differs depending on the individual needing assistance and their health conditions. Sit down and discuss the option your parent is most comfortable with and which services best suit their specific needs.
What Do Caregivers Do?
Caregivers make everyday activities easier for older adults. Caregiver responsibilities such as bathing, eating and getting dressed are a few ways to make these individuals feel comfortable in their ability to handle each day. No matter the circumstances, caregivers quickly adapt to unpredictable situations to ensure a comfortable environment for older adults.
Duties that caregivers can expect to perform daily include helping people meet their physical, emotional and medical needs.
1. Meeting Physical Needs
These are a few tasks to help older adults meet their physical needs:
- Personal care: Assisting in getting dressed, going to the bathroom, eating and moving around the living space can make managing tasks easier for older adults. Older adults may have difficulty moving around or transferring from bed to standing. Caregivers can make these movements easier by providing walkers or wheelchairs and ensuring the area is clear from any obstacles that could cause a fall. During this process, ask what they are comfortable with you helping them accomplish. Having a conversation early on in the caregiving process can establish boundaries and keep everyone on the same page.
- Meal planning and preparation: Nothing shows you care like a warm home-cooked meal. Limited mobility can make cooking more challenging for older adults. Family members may ask a caregiver to cook several meals a day to ensure their loved one receives the nutrients they need in the right portions. Preparing their favorite foods can also build a stronger, more trusting connection as you get to know their personalities better.
- Transportation: Staying active and alert later in life is essential for good health. However, if driving is no longer a safe option for your loved one, consider providing transportation regularly. Caregivers often take the time to drive older adults to doctor’s appointments or other activities that stimulate mental and physical activity. If you cannot provide transportation, accompany them on public transit. This option can provide some relaxing sightseeing opportunities to occupy the day.
- Housekeeping: A clean house is a happy house. Caregivers can expect to partake in housekeeping chores such as washing dishes, mopping and laundry to ensure everyone is in a comfortable and polished environment. These tasks can help keep every individual at ease with a clear living space and focused mindset for accomplishing their daily goals.
2. Meeting Emotional Needs
Here are some ways caregivers help older adults with their emotional needs:
- Companionship: Providing companionship can be a fun way to get to know your loved one more by investing in their favorite past times. Depending on their hobbies, older adults and caregivers can spend time reading, shopping, gardening, playing games or simply spending quality one-on-one time with each other. This step can strengthen the bond between both parties to create a trusting relationship.
- Memory care: Providing memory support to those with cognitive challenges is essential in many caregiver roles. While some older adults may not have memory issues, caregivers providing support for those who do must become familiar with caring for these conditions. Establishing a daily routine, creating a safe environment, using effective communication and reducing distractions are all researched methods of memory care.
- Family support: Older adults need to maintain a sense of community while receiving care. This step allows them to feel loved and supported. If you are interested in hiring a professional caregiver or you are a caregiver for another family, make sure to schedule times for relatives to visit. Direct support through visitation and relaxing time alone with loved ones can help older adults maintain close relationships with their families.
3. Meeting Medical Needs
Caregivers can help older adults with their medical needs in these ways:
- Develop a care plan: This step is the most beneficial when establishing an effective recovery or care journey for older adults. Care plans consider the specifics of each individual’s conditions and needs. Developing a solid understanding of their medications, preferred hospitals, health care providers and the details of their medical conditions is essential for providing them with the proper care they need daily. Creating a care plan can reduce the need for doctor’s visits or trips to the hospital due to the caregiver’s knowledge of the individual’s health status.
- Manage medication: Memory loss conditions and limited mobility can make it difficult for older adults to take their medication at the right time and in the correct doses. Caregivers can provide medication management support by ensuring older adults take the correct medicines as their doctor prescribes. As part of the care plan, caregivers can accompany older adults to their doctor’s appointments to become familiar with their medications and possible side effects. This practice will also give the individual peace of mind knowing they have a trusted caregiver in their life to take care of remembering when they should take their medication.
- Assist with general health care: An older adult requiring assistance may have some medical condition limiting their ability to complete everyday activities. Understanding their needs is essential to providing quality care each day, and planning doctor’s visits when necessary can help make their medical conditions more manageable. Over time, caregivers have an easier time recognizing the symptoms and behaviors associated with their health conditions, making treatment options a normal part of the daily routine.
Caregiver Skills and Attributes
Caregivers can adopt skills and attributes to offer the best quality care for older adults. Here are some of the main characteristics you’ll need or want to look for:
- Empathy and compassion: One of the most significant caregiver skills is the ability to show empathy and understanding. Many older adults feel ashamed knowing they require assistance. However, reassuring them that the help they receive is an act of love and not charity can make the treatment process more comfortable for everyone. Older adults with caregivers often have a medical condition that limits their ability to perform everyday tasks. Helping them feel accomplished and cared for ensures they continue living happy lives alongside a new companion.
- Positivity and patience: Depending on their health conditions, older adults may take longer to complete some daily tasks, or they may not meet goals at the estimated time. Practice a positive and patient attitude to allow older adults to feel accomplished in their more minor achievements. Even when a day does not go as planned, encouraging a growth mindset in yourself and the individual in treatment can allow for a more trusting and loving relationship.
- Problem-solving: Being able to solve problems quickly and adapt to certain situations is an essential skill for caregivers. Each day may bring a new challenge, but it is nothing that a dedicated caregiver cannot handle. Different health conditions can limit the amount of activity an older adult can do. Taking the time to understand their capabilities and provide practical solutions can help make the assistance process more comfortable for older adults.
- Communication: Caregivers need to be excellent communicators to ensure their charges receive the proper care that best suits their needs. Thoroughly explaining each step of assistance can help older adults feel included in the process and help them understand why they may need specific treatments. Blindly guiding them without effective communication can cause frustration for both parties. Expressing emotions through calm and collected communication can also help you both understand what treatment methods work best for the individual. Communication also enables you to adhere to the care plan you developed early in the assistance process. Caregivers should actively encourage open communication from older adults can help eliminate confusion and anger as they adapt to a new support system in their lives.
- Commitment: Caregivers dedicate each day to ensuring older adults receive as much support as possible during their time together. Commitment is an admirable skill in this role, whether that individual only needs assistance during a short recovery or has long-term care in mind. This attribute creates lasting relationships between caregivers and older adults filled with trust. Loyalty is crucial for many individuals who seek assistance. Caregivers who commit to an individual can fully understand their conditions over time to provide quality care for as long as needed.
Resources and Support for Caregivers
Caregiving requires several hours of dedication and support every day. While the rewards accompanying helping others are limitless, separating this role from your personal life can be challenging. Whether you are a caregiver for your parents, your spouse or a resident in assisted living, it is essential to allow yourself to gain support from those in the same position.
Caregiver support groups are a great way to connect with other individuals to share similar experiences, struggles and advice. Providing your mind and body a break from the duties of caregiving through support groups can help avoid feeling burnout. Feeling anxious or depressed, noticing a lack of personal care, seeing a drastic weight change and losing interest in the caregiving role are all signs of burnout that make each day more challenging. Allow yourself time to destress through mutual support. These individuals value your time and effort and the emotions you feel in your current role.
Memory Cafe is a safe and comfortable event where caregivers and their loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other cognitive challenges can socialize with others in a similar situation. It is a chance to enjoy delicious food and drinks, listen to music and take a break from the usual daily routine. Connecting with others in a positive environment such as this can help make the caregiving role more manageable and memorable for parents, children, friends or hired individuals.
Our Commitment to Supporting Caregivers and Older Adults
If you notice that your parent needs additional care, we encourage you to explore our living options. Cappella of Grand Junction provides quality care for all residents. Rest assured that your loved one will feel right at home with our trained medical staff, friendly neighbors and life enrichment within the community.
At Capella, we offer assisted living and memory care services to best fit your loved one’s needs. We treat every resident like a part of our own family. Our top priority at Cappella is their comfort and happiness, and we are glad to be a part of their journey of personal growth.
If you have any additional questions about our community, contact us today.