Summary: Patients need help with everyday activities such as exercising, toileting, and handling their affairs. This looks different for each patient but that is why there are different caregiving roles. Each role works together providing better care for your loved one. Understanding the strengths and traits you’ll need will help you deliver better care. Estimated Read Time: 6 mins
Table of Contents:
- Caregiver Duties
- Performing or Assisting With ADLs
- Advocating for Healthcare Needs
- Taking Care of Your Loved One’s Pets
- Handling End of Life Activities
- What Are Your Three Main Strengths as a Caregiver?
The role of caregiver for seniors is to facilitate the needs of an individual who otherwise may face difficulties performing daily tasks due to health concerns. Caregiver duties may look different in each situation, but everyone providing caregiving for the elderly or disabled will find themselves potentially wearing many hats to ensure quality of life.
Some typical caregiver duties and responsibilities include:
- Performing or assisting with activities of daily living (ADLs)
- Providing healthcare and exercise
- Advocating for healthcare needs
- Managing affairs and finances
- Providing personal support and comfort
- Taking care of your loved one’s pets
- Handling end-of-life activities
Everyone is going to have different needs as a patient. This can stem from different health conditions, abilities, knowledge, and where one is in regard to their age. So, it makes sense that the responsibilities of a caregiver will need to vary and adapt to what’s needed by the individual.
Family caregivers can also use this to help them delegate responsibilities. For example, an elderly caregiver with knowledge about pets would be great for helping a loved one tend to their dogs but can use professional caregivers for more technical medical needs when necessary.
Below, we break down a few of these caregiver duties so you can better understand why each is essential to your loved one. Overall, caregiver tasks help seniors get the care and love they need to sustain a higher quality of life.
The duties of a caregiver can vary depending on the patient. However, a common goal of caregiving in any capacity is to ensure ADLs, including cooking, eating, bathing, using the restroom, getting dressed, housekeeping, and other self-care actions, are fulfilled daily. These essential duties are imperative for daily living and should not be overlooked by anyone taking on the role of caregiver.
Your caregiver duties can also mean occasionally advocating for your patient’s healthcare needs. If something seems off or if they are complaining about specific issues and not being taken seriously by their medical team, it’s part of your duty to make their voice heard and find a viable solution. The role of a caregiver as an advocate is to ensure that elderly patients are having their needs and concerns met in every phase of their healthcare.
An often-overlooked caregiver duty is ensuring that not only the patient is taken care of but their pets as well. Providing adequate food, water, and time outside is important to the animal’s life, which may serve as a lifetime companion for your loved one. Many aging individuals find comfort in pets who may need care.
Studies have shown that those who may require an elderly caretaker can benefit from owning a pet. Over 50% of adults between the ages of 50 and 80 own a pet. Your duties and responsibilities will look different for each patient, but helping the elderly maintain their pets is a beneficial task for their health and quality of life.
The most difficult part of the role of a caregiver for the elderly is often making hard decisions at the end of your loved one’s life. As a caregiver for seniors, ensuring their wishes are met and managing their final affairs even after they have been laid to rest is an essential task. This can mean paying off debts, cutting off credit cards, getting death certificates, settling estates, and more.
As you can see, there is no set role of a caregiver for the elderly or even a specific right way to do things. Each patient has their own needs, and because of this, the duties of being a senior caregiver will change. So, as long as you are there for them whenever they need you and for whatever their needs may be, you’re well on your way to providing invaluable care.
Because there are so many different areas of care one can provide and seniors might need, the traits of a caregiver are typically vast. However, some are needed on universal levels and transcend the care itself. Here are three caregiver skills and abilities anyone can use to help provide the best level of care possible:
Chances are, if you make it to an old age, you’re going to need help. But even if you don’t, showcasing a little empathy is going to go a long way. Caregiving for the elderly isn’t just helping with their healthcare needs but also providing support and compassion that is needed by seniors facing uncertain times.
Showing empathy can be as complex as restraining yourself when you’re frustrated due to the actions of your patient and as simple as showing interest in something they enjoy. There’s no one way to show empathy but the old adage of “treating others as we treat ourselves” is at the heart of this important feature. Here are some common examples:
- Asking about your patient
- Being attentive
- Taking your time
- Looking for common ground even if you disagree
- Refraining from raising your voice
- Avoid judgment and practice understanding
Dealing with caregiver stress is one of the key concerns for anyone taking on the role, and a key way to help mitigate its effects is to set boundaries. This will come from trying different methods and communicating with your family over time, but you’ll need to keep your caregiving duties for seniors in perspective when dealing with other aspects of your life.
Keeping the role of a caregiver separate from your other ventures is also going to help you not take things personally. There will be times, especially for those dealing with ailments such as dementia, when frustrations may feel overwhelming. Remember to reach out to viable resources and practice self-care throughout the process.
The role of caregiver is going to change your life in many ways. This also rings true for any other members of your household. Furthermore, the way it changes your life is going to evolve. You’ll have to take this into consideration and remember that evolving over time is a critical part of being a caregiver for the elderly. As needs and lifestyles change, your role may evolve further. It’s important to be prepared for these changes and to gameplan for them as they arrive.
No matter which role you take on, you are going to need to take the proper steps as a professional and sometimes as a family member to become a caregiver.
The next portion of our guide breaks down the steps you can take and the requirements and resources which vary by state. Keep reading to discover how to become a caregiver.
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- Pets help older adults cope with health issues, get active and connect with others, poll finds, University of Michigan. Accessed November 2023.