When it comes to the well-being and health of elderly clients, being a caregiver is an undeniably important job. Although the term “caregiver” likely immediate inspires visions of duties and responsibilities that are more healthcare related, there’s much more involved with being a caregiver for elderly patients.
Here are six duties that virtually any caregiver will have to have mastered—whether they’re a professional or a loving family member. As you’ll quickly see, the role extends far past just distributing medications.
1. Following or Creating a Care Plan
Professional medical caregivers typically develop care plans for elderly patients. These plans spell out—in detail—all of the care that will be offered to the patient to ensure they are well taken care of. This roadmap for appropriate care is important, particularly if there are numerous different people involved in one person’s well-being. It guarantees that everyone is on the same page about the actions being performed.
Creating a care plan is a responsibility that is more medical-related, meaning it will fall on the supervising nurse’s plate. However, caregivers should be prepared to follow those instructions and ask any necessary questions.
2. Managing Personal Hygiene
As patients age, it becomes much more difficult for them to handle their own personal hygiene-related tasks. This is when the caregiver steps in to assist with bathing, teeth brushing, toilet trips, and nail care. Even if the patient is able to perform some of these duties on their own, it’s often helpful to have an extra set of hands nearby for reassurance.
3. Dispensing Medications
Prescriptions and medications can be confusing, particularly when there’s a multitude that need to be taken on any given day. Caretakers help their patients by ensuring the necessary medications are taken on the correct day at the appropriate time. They’ll also make sure to follow any particular instructions, such as making the patient eat something with any medications that don’t interact well with an empty stomach.
4. Household Management
Very few people actually enjoy cooking or cleaning. But, this all becomes even more of a nuisance as people age. Now, not only is it a hassle, it can also be rather dangerous. Most caretakers—whether they’re live-in or stop by the patient’s residence frequently—help elderly patients with food preparation and light housekeeping duties to ensure that patients are maintaining a healthy diet in a clean and safe environment. It’s an important piece of the puzzle!
Often, elderly patients can no longer drive, meaning they need to rely on their caregivers for transportation. Caregivers will be responsible for taking elderly patients to doctor’s appointments and other activities that require them to leave their residence.
Caregivers are responsible for a lot of important duties when it comes to the care of an elderly patient. But, beyond the medication management and grooming assistance, caretakers offer something much more important—support and companionship. Growing older and having to rely heavily on others can be a difficult transition. And, elderly patients and their caregivers will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time together. If they share a bond and actually enjoy each other’s company? That makes the entire experience that much easier—and maybe even slightly enjoyable.
Caregivers play an incredibly important role when it comes to the care of the elderly, and these six duties are some of the highlights any caregiver should be prepared to handle. Yes, caregivers are responsible for a lot. But, it’s also an incredibly rewarding and gratifying job.