For many families dealing with an aging parent who needs help, caring for them in their home makes the most sense. And as their care needs increase, it can become more and more challenging to be a caregiver. But what is a caregiver? Does care have to be provided by a family member, or are there other options? If you’re trying to decide the best way to look after your family member, this blog post will provide a caregiver definition and look at the best way to provide caregiver services to your loved one.
What is a Caregiver?
There are two types of caregivers: professional caregivers and family caregivers. Professional caregivers are paid for their services and have had training and education in providing care. Family caregivers care for an aging parent, spouse, other relative, or someone else who is ill or disabled, without payment.
In the U.S., most long-term care is provided by family and friends in the home; only 11% of care is provided in a nursing home or an assisted-living community. According to AARP, there are currently 53 million family caregivers. About 86% of caregivers are related to the care recipient, with about a third caring for a parent. The average age of a caregiver is 49, and 66% of caregivers are women.
What are a Caregiver’s Duties?
A caregiver assists with activities of daily living including bathing, getting dressed, walking, eating and assistance with going to the bathroom. Caregivers can also provide help with instrumental activities of daily living including shopping, meal preparation, medication management, housekeeping, transportation and managing finances.
Are You Ready to be a Primary Caregiver?
Deciding to care for a loved one is not something to be taken lightly. While undoubtedly rewarding, it can be a huge strain on your life and the lives of your family members. Before you decide what to do, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Am I physically able to provide the needed assistance? Could I continue doing this work for weeks? Months? Years? Do I have physical limitations for the work involved?
- How much time is needed to help care for my loved one in their home? Is this likely to increase or decrease over time?
- What skill level is necessary to provide the best care for them in their home?
- Are other family members and friends able to share the necessary care without any one individual becoming overburdened?
- Am I prepared to perform intimate caregiving chores like bathing and helping with using the toilet?
- Am I able to keep from getting upset and angry? Am I able to stay calm and treat family members with patience and kindness, even when I feel tired and overworked with the responsibilities of being a caregiver?
- Can I be available for caregiving duties when needed?
- Can I afford to reduce or stop working? Or do I need to continue to work to meet my family’s and my current or future financial needs?
- Am I willing to reduce my other obligations to give the care needed? If other people depend on me (children, etc.), can I find alternative care for my loved one to free up my time to take care of others who also need me?
- Am I confident that other family relationships (e.g., with my spouse) won’t be negatively affected by the stress of caregiving?
- Do I have a list of contacts to ask for help when I need a break? Am I willing to ask for help if I need it? How will I protect myself from getting so involved that I never take a break or get help?
- Would I be willing to hire outside care to supplement what I can give? Do I have the financial resources for supplemental care? Would I be willing to pay someone to help me provide the care that is needed?
- Do the people around me support me in my decision? Are they willing to share some of the responsibilities?
If you answered “No” to two or more of these questions, you may want to consider other options for your family member.
Finding the Best Option for Your Loved One
At Holly Hall, we’ve been helping seniors lead more active lives for over 70 years with an engaging lifestyle tailored to their unique wants and needs. To learn how our independent living and assisted living communities can provide peace of mind to your loved one and your family, contact us here.