Caregivers assist individuals (Care Recipients) who can’t take care of themselves, whether that be children, adults, or seniors. Caregivers fulfill an essential role in society.
Who Are Caregivers?
Caregivers may be formal and informal.
Formal caregivers are usually paid workers in the healthcare system who provide primary or secondary care for children, adults, and senior citizens with chronic or disabling conditions. They may also be unpaid volunteers with various organizations that offer healthcare assistance.
Informal (unpaid) caregivers usually have a close personal relationship with the person they assist. They include parents, spouses, children, close relatives, or friends.
Caregivers may either live with the patient or reside elsewhere.
What is the Role of Caregivers?
Caregivers fulfill a wide variety of roles in a care recipient’s life. Their main tasks may be related to personal care and assistance with activities of daily living.
Caregivers give families peace of mind. Instead of worrying about the health and safety of an aging, differently-abled, or adolescent family member, relatives can rely on caregivers to help and share updates with the rest of the family.
In terms of practical activities, caregivers’ responsibilities may include but are not limited to:
- Assisting with bathing, dressing, grooming, cooking, eating, or moving around the house
- Helping with Technology
- Shopping for groceries and other necessities
- Doing household chores
- Managing finances
- Monitoring health
- Communicating with healthcare providers or acting as an advocate on behalf of the client.
- Scheduling and traveling to doctor’s appointments
- Purchasing or organizing medications
Are You a Caregiver?
You might be a caregiver even if you don’t realize it. You may be a caregiver if you regularly help someone in any of the activities just listed above.
Being a caregiver doesn’t have to be a full-time job. You can still fulfill the role while pursuing your career.
People who regularly fulfill any of the above duties may be eligible to receive assistance from the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). This federal program was created to address the complexity of caring for family members and loved ones.
Who Are Care Recipients?
Care recipients are children or adults with a chronic illness or disabling condition, older people who require assistance to perform daily tasks, or a child who is not yet able to care for themselves independently.
In addition to needing help with everyday activities, care recipients may also require medical care or rehabilitation services such as speech, occupational, or physical therapy.
Can Anyone Become a Caregiver?
Anyone can be an informal caregiver, and many people are caregivers without realizing it. However, someone who wants to become a professional caregiver should research their state’s license and education requirements. For example, some states require 40 hours of training, while others require 120 training hours. In addition, caregivers who seek employment with private agencies will also have to meet specific requirements.
If you’re considering providing caregiver services in a formal or informal capacity or are an organization interested in supporting caregivers, I can help. As a certified coach, I offer medical coaching covering caregiving topics to help you uncover your true potential. My personal experience raising a child with significant disabilities has motivated me to ensure that all caretakers are supported and educated in their essential work.
In addition, I offer support in topics ranging from caregiver burden, dealing with difficult families, and building compassion.
You can find more information about the services I provide here.
What Should You Look for In a Caregiver?
Caregiving is not an easy job. It requires compassion and commitment, every day. Caregivers need to navigate the often-complicated relationships between the care recipient, their families, and the healthcare system.
Here are some crucial behaviors to maintain a healthy caregiver–care recipient relationship.
- Consensus regarding the caregiver’s involvement
It can be tricky satisfying all the different people involved in caring for the elderly, children or a person with a disability. It’s important to establish clear expectations about the caregiver’s involvement, the extent of their duties and responsibilities, and their caregiving style. Caregivers should always ensure that the care recipient’s voice is heard, and their agency is respected.
- Mutual understanding
Caregiving is a stressful role to fulfill. As time passes, many care recipients become more dependent and caregiving more demanding, because of more pain or inability to manage tasks. In these situations, caregivers may feel underappreciated or taken advantage of by the care recipient or other family members.
Caregivers and care recipients must form a mutual understanding of their relationship. Caregivers should show compassion for individuals managing challenging health conditions. Care recipients (and their families) should demonstrate their appreciation for the caregiver’s assistance.
- Shared decision-making
Communication is the key. All parties should work together to reach satisfactory outcomes. While the health and safety of the care recipient is a top priority, certain conditions must be met to allow the caregiver to perform their role efficiently and to the best of their ability.
Personal preferences must be respected, although compromises may be necessary at times. Family-oriented decision-making strategies are often effective for deciding how to approach caregiving.
I have extensive experience coaching individuals and organizations to reach their caregiving goals. Remember, it’s just as important to develop the soft skills that accompany best caregiving management practices.
Both caregivers and care recipients alike can benefit from improving their communication strategies, learning self-acceptance, building trust and respect, conducting difficult conversations, and positively dealing with change. Please reach out if you’d like to learn more about building a mindset oriented toward continued growth.