What Is A Caregiver

What Is A Caregiver?

Caregivers can be spouses, partners, adult children, parents, other relatives friends, neighbors or paid professionals. If you are a family member who has found yourself in the role of caregiver, you may also be raising children, or be a volunteer, a spouse, have other family commitments. Adding caregiving to that list can easily lead to frustration and exhaustion. Rarely are family members trained to do the broad range of tasks and know the appropriate support needed to help someone throughout their day.

The Caregiver Role

Common tasks caregivers often do including;

  • Buy groceries, cook, clean house, do laundry, provide transportation
  • Help the care receiver get dressed, take a shower, take medicine
  • Transfer someone out of bed/chair.
  • Arrange medical appointments, drive to the doctor, sit in during appointments, monitor medications
  • Talk with doctors, nurses, care managers, and others to understand what needs to be done
  • Arranging for assistance—especially for someone who cannot be left alone
  • Handle finances and other legal matters
  • Be a companion

Overcoming Stress As A Caregiver At Home

When a family member finds themselves in the role of caregiver, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Here are ideas that may help reduce the stress;

  • Identify yourself as a caregiver
  • Get a good diagnosis—from a specialist or geriatrician if necessary—of your loved one’s health condition
  • Learn what specific skills you might need to care for someone with whatever their diagnosis is
  • Talk about finances and healthcare wishes
  • Complete legal paperwork, e.g., Powers of Attorney, Advance Directives
  • Bring family and friends together to discuss care
  • Keep them up to date on the current situation
  • Identify resources, both personal and in the community
  • Find support for yourself and your loved one

Alternate Living Arrangements

Families will look for alternative living arrangements when they no longer can support their loved on in the home.  When this happens, you may hear the following terms. Get to know what the language is around supporting someone in a senior living community.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – everyday tasks related to personal care usually performed for oneself in the course of a normal day, including bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, walking, taking medications, and other personal care activities.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) – activities related to independent living, such as preparing meals, managing money, shopping for groceries or personal items, performing light or heavy housework, and using a telephone

Assessment – An assessment from a professional to determine that appropriate support that is needed for your loved one.  This may include ADLs or IADLs.

Respite Care – provision of short-term relief (respite) from the tasks associated with caregiving. Respite services encompass traditional home-based care, such as hiring an attendant, as well as care provided to the care recipient in out-of-home care settings, such as adult day services and short-term stays in a nursing home or other care facility. Respite can vary in time from part of a day to several weeks.

Caregivers With Loved Ones In A Senior Living Community

Not every caregiver has the ability to live near their loved one. Here are some ideas to help:

Observe your loved one during visits:

  • Are they eating properly?
  • Taking medications properly?
  • Able to get out and about to do their errands?
  • Is the house messy and unorganized?
  • Is there increased confusion?

These answers will help you to determine what if any types of care is needed and how to arrange them.

Care Managers
Care managers act as a substitute family member to your loved one and can arrange for services such as:

  • visiting nurses
  • care providers
  • home delivered meals

Local Support System
Try creating a support system of other people living near your loved who are willing and able to help.

  • friends
  • relatives
  • church or community service groups

Orchard at Brookhaven is a senior living community in Atlanta that has trained staff to support your loved one. Our staff are called Care Partners rather than Care Givers because we focus on being a partner with your loved one. Rather doing “to” our staff works “with” your loved one as a partner in supporting their life. Please contact us to learn more about our community and how we can help.