Make Caregiving Easier

Determining the type of care you need.

If you decide to hire a home care employee, you need to determine how much and what type of help your older relative needs. The following are descriptions of some of the types of home care personnel.

  • Chore workers perform basic household tasks. Chore workers often do heavier types of cleaning such as washing windows and other heavy cleaning.
  • A homeworker may be supervised by an agency or you and provides meal preparation, household management, personal care and medication reminders.
  • A home healthcare worker may provide personal care, help with bathing, transfers, walking and exercise, household services that are essential to healthcare and assistance with medication.

Selecting an agency

Ask the following questions when evaluating an agency.

  • What type of employee screening is done?
  • Who supervises the employee?
  • What type of general and specialized training has the employee recieved?
  • Who do you call if the employee does not arrive to provide service?
  • What are the fees and what do they cover?
  • Is there a sliding fee scale?
  • What is the minimum and maximum hours of service?
  • Are there limitations in terms of tasks performed or times of the day when services are furnished?

Caregiving may be one of the most important roles you will undertake in your lifetime.

It is not an easy role, nor is it one for which most of us are prepared. Like most people, you may have questions about your care receivers illness or disability.

If you have a job and are juggling several responsibilities, or if your family member or friend needs a lot of assistance, you will need help with caregiving. Whether you are expecting to become a caregiver or have been thrust into the role overnight, it is useful to know where you can obtain information and assistance.

Things that help

  • Work options and on-the-job training programs: If you are a working caregiver, it is important to discuss your needs with your employer. Telecommuting, flextime, job sharing or rearranging your schedule can help minimize stress. Increasingly, companies are offering resource materials, counseling, and training programs to help caregivers.
  • Involving older children: If you have older children living at home, they may be willing to assist your older family member. Such responsibility, provided it is not overly burdensome, can help young people become more empathetic, responsible, and self-confident. It can also give you needed support.
  • Asking other family members to help: You can and should ask family members to share in caregiving. A family conference can help sort out everyone’s tasks and schedules. Friends and neighbors may be willing to provide transportation, respite care, and help with shopping, household chores and repairs.

Respite Care:

Respite care provides time off for persons caring for family members. Respite care, sometimes called adult care sitting, provides that relief and allows the caregiver to take care of themselves too. If you are feeling stressed, angry, or depressed…

  • Remove yourself from the situation by walking away, even if its just around the house.
  • Talk to someone whom you feel close.
  • Connect with other caregivers through a caregiver specialist.
  • Talk with your doctor or other healthcare professional.
  • Write down your feelings in a journal.

Caring for both of us

Sometimes you may be so deeply concerned about the well being of the person for whom you are caring that you forget your own needs. Don’t “burn the candle at both ends” and become exhausted, emotionally stressed or ill. This could compromise your own quality of life and your ability to care for your family member. You owe it to yourself and to your family to maintain your own physical and emotional health by:

  • Getting sufficient sleep.
  • Eating a healthy diet.
  • Staying physically fit.
  • Having periodic health check ups.
  • Not abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • Spending social time with family and friends.
  • Pursuing your own interests.
  • Seeking support from family, friends, professionals, religious advisors, or joining peer support programs.
  • Using appropriate in-home and community based services.

Keep in mind it is normal to feel angry, frustrated, or depressed from time to time. Caregiving can be difficult, as well as a rewarding undertaking.