Jan 15, 2018 by Stephanie Howe - Owner, Comfort Keepers
What Kind of Tasks Will You Perform as an In-Home Caregiver?
When you're thinking about starting a new career, one of the most important things to consider is what you will actually be doing. Many people see caregiving as a simple, easy job but in truth, it's a lot more work than simply 'babysitting' elderly people. Unlike caregiving at home with your own relatives, working with an agency means being ready to provide specific services that the agency offers and that your clients will rely on. If you're considering in-home caregiving as a new career, we'd like to help you make the right decision by giving you a little insight into the tasks you may be asked to perform on a daily or occasional basis.
Many seniors have trouble standing for long periods of time, no longer have steady hands to hold knives with, or aren't strong enough to heft a pot or full pan of food anymore. Therefore one of the first things you may be asked to do for a client is to cook meals or provide assistance as they prepare their own meals. If the senior has special dietary requirements or restrictions, you'll need to make sure both what you cook and what they prepare conforms to the doctor's orders.
For the same reasons that seniors often need help cooking, over time it also becomes difficult to keep up with household chores. While you shouldn't be required to do any deep cleaning or heavy lifting, daily chores like laundry, wiping down the kitchen, and vacuuming carpets are a perfectly normal part of caregiving.
By the time a senior needs caregiving, there is a high likelihood that their vision, hand-eye coordination, or attention are no longer sufficient to drive safely. If this is the case with your client, you may be asked to drive them to and from medical appointments as well as daily activities like visiting family or spending time at the senior center. It is unlikely that you will ever be asked to drive outside your home city.
Even for seniors who don't suffer from dementia, it can be hard to remember when to take medications, especially for people who have been prescribed more than three or four pills with complex instructions as to when and how to take them. As the caregiver, it's your job to help clients keep track of their medications and take them on time, with or without food as the bottle instructs.
Besides making sure that your clients are healthy and safe, caregivers should also always aim to make sure clients are happy and entertained as well. Retirement at home can get boring, especially without new ideas and activities. Interactive caregiving principles will guide you to plan and suggest engaging activities for your clients to keep them active.
For clients who are less able, you may need to help them with personal care activities as well as your usual duties This can include dressing, bathing, toileting, and other care activities like a little amateur hairdressing or nail care. In most cases, your caregiving agency will help you get additional training for considerate and safe personal care procedures and you should not be surprised by personal care requirements with a client.
Simple Medical Care
If a senior has had to visit the hospital for a medical condition or recent injury, often families will hire a caregiver for a few weeks to care for them and there may be a few minor medical tasks like changing bandages or tending medical machines. These tasks are far more likely if you take clients who need transitioning home care.
Dementia Awareness and Activities
In other situations, you may find yourself working with a client who has dementia and needs special care as a result. Dementia patients usually need more vigilant care and a very patient caregiver who is willing to gently remind them when reality has slipped. This may also involve more personal care tasks along with the need for brain-stimulating activities and memory games to help dementia clients stay healthy and rooted in the real world.
As a final note on caregiving, old age eventually takes everyone and right before this time, usually the best a family can do is make their relative more comfortable. As a caregiver, you can provide respite and hospice care for clients in their last few months.
Becoming a caregiver is more than just an occupation. You are providing a vital service to society, your clients, and the families of seniors who can't handle care all by themselves. If you're ready to become a caregiving hero, friend, and assistant, Contact Comfort Keepers at 732-557-0010.