The role of a senior caregiver is a special and important one, as it makes a difference in the lives of others each and every day. We know this first-hand at Concordia, as we have the opportunity to meet and talk with family caregivers on a regular basis. The role can be challenging, yet rewarding, and can include a wide range of tasks from doing laundry and buying groceries to taking your loved one to doctors’ appointments and handling their finances.
A caregiver role may present itself to you gradually – by slowly helping your loved one more and more until you realize that you are filling the role of a caregiver. Or, the role may occur overnight, due to an abrupt change in your senior loved one’s health – such as from a stroke or accident. If you find yourself in this role, or anticipate this may be something you’ll take on in the future, here are some of the main responsibilities that you can expect:
Assisting with Daily Needs – It’s common for seniors to need assistance with grooming and personal hygiene tasks such as bathing, helping transport them to and from the bathroom or shower, combing their hair and getting dressed. This can be a sensitive topic for many seniors, so approaching these tasks with patience and kindness is key.
Housekeeping – Chores around the house can become difficult for seniors to complete, including cleaning, laundry, cutting the grass and gardening. You may also want to prepare your senior loved one’s home when the seasons change by making sure the outside water sources are turned off in the winter, the screens are put back in the windows in the spring, and so on. Keep in mind you can always ask for help with certain tasks that you do not feel comfortable completing yourself.
Transporting – One responsibility a senior caregiver usually takes on is the task of transporting their loved one to and from doctors’ appointments and other errands. If transportation isn’t something you’re capable of providing, there are other means of providing this service for your loved one, such as free transit programs.
Planning and Preparing Meals – If your senior loved one isn’t able to safely prepare meals for themselves, this may be something you would take on. This could include grocery shopping, meal preparation, cooking and ensuring your loved one receives the right nutrition for their specific needs.
Managing Medications – One important role of a caregiver is often to make sure your loved one has the right medications and is taking them at the right times. This may include picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy and organizing your loved one’s medicine with a medicine dispenser.
Monitoring Health – Keeping an eye on your loved one’s overall health is an important part of caring for them. If you see a decline or change in your loved one’s health, making sure they see a doctor is vital.
Handling Finances – If your loved one is in need of a caregiver, they will likely need assistance with their finances. Some examples might be paying their bills and handling their taxes each year.
Being a Companion – Among all of the tasks that are included in a caregiver’s role, one is especially important: the task of companionship. It’s important for your senior loved one to spend quality time with you and/or others. You can do this by sharing a meal or cup of coffee together, playing a game or even just listening to music together. You can also arrange for others that you trust to stop by and visit with your senior loved one.
Asking for Help – Last, but certainly not least, is the responsibility to ask for help when you need it. While the role can be rewarding, caregiving can be demanding and stressful at times, and you need to be prepared to ask others for help when you need a break or need help completing a task. It’s important to remember that caring for yourself enables you to be the best caregiver for your senior loved one.
As you can see, the role of a family caregiver can be vital for seniors who need the help. If you’re a new caregiver and aren’t sure where to begin, take a look at our caregiver checklist with advice to help get you started in your caregiver journey. Also, check out these tools to help caregivers.
Do you have questions about Concordia or are interested in how we can help you and your loved one? If so, please contact us any time via our online contact form or by calling our administrative headquarters at 724-352-1571. Or, visit the care levels & services page of our website to learn about the types of care we offer, including In-Home Care, Memory Care, Long-Term Nursing Care, Adult Day Services, Hospice Care and more.
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