Being a caregiver is a tough role to play. It requires one to be emotionally resilient, a patient listener and ready to learn from every experience they face. Although there is no doubt about how fulfilling and life-changing a job it is, often the importance of caregivers is not fully understood.
What Is A Caregiver?
Everybody needs a little help and a little support sometimes. In instances, when the care given by family and friends is not sufficient, people acquire additional help in the form of non-medical/medical caregivers. The word ‘caregiver’ is a blanket term. It refers to any person who looks after someone in need of long-term help to survive. They are the ones who provide their shoulder to those who feel burdened with problems and need constant care and support.
As people grow old, their ability to function physically gets limited. They experience difficulty in moving around, which is why something like a walker with a seat acts as a useful aid for them. It ensures that they are comfortable at all times, just as a caregiver does.
What Are The Types Of Caregivers?
When we talk about what a caregiver is, we also need to recall the types of caregivers available.
1. Family Caregivers
This term is used for someone who lovingly takes care of a family member, without expecting any payment for it. You can be a family caregiver if you take care of a relative, friend or any loved one.
2. Professional Caregiver
Professional caregivers work for agencies. They are hired by the person who needs their support to lead his/her life. These caregivers can provide both medical and non-medical care. Professional caregiving is considered to be a very noble career, too.
3. Independent Caregiver
This term is used for those who don’t work for a particular agency, but still provide assistance and services to the care receiver. There is no intermediate contact needed to hire an independent caregiver. It is a direct process.
4. Volunteer Caregiver
These caregivers work in hospice care, which is a health facility for people suffering from chronic illnesses. Volunteer caregivers provide non-medical assistance. They lift the spirits of the patient by being their friend/companion.
How To Be A Caregiver?
Now that the explanation of ‘what is a caregiver’ is covered, let’s proceed to the next topic. To become a caregiver, you must understand the difference between a non-medical and volunteer caregiver. By learning the specifications of each job, you can find out which one suits your skill-set best. Keep in mind that to be a caregiver, you may or may not need certification.
1. Become A Non-Medical Caregiver
To become a companion caregiver, you need not have a medical background. Your main requirement is that you provide respite care and human tenderness. A non-medical caregiver is supposed to be a companion to the senior person. Your duties would include remembering medication schedules, helping the person bathe, running errands for him, etc.
The IRS has recognized what a companion caregiver is. According to the definition provided by the IRS, you as a companion, need to help the ill person make sense of his life. You can chat with him and spend time playing board games to make sure he doesn’t feel like he is uncared for or unloved and unwanted.
The requirements for your training will differ from one state to another. There are states which recommend you to pass a certification course of eight hours, but it is not mandatory. On the other hand, there are other states where you have to take a ten-hour certification course to be eligible to assist. Vermont requires you to pass a state examination. Sometimes, identity and background checks are also conducted.
Coming to the salary earned by a companion caregiver- it ranges from fifteen to twenty-five dollars per hour.
2. Become A Volunteer Caregiver
To become a volunteer caregiver is similar to all volunteering jobs. If you are interested in taking up caregiving as your career, then you must spend some time volunteering at hospice care centres. You will be recommended to spend at least 4-5 hours with the person who is suffering. This is done so that he doesn’t feel threatened by the aspect of having a caregiver around him, all the time.
Let’s proceed to the importance of a caregiver (what do caregivers do).
What Do Caregivers Do?
Top five duties and responsibilities of a caregiver.
1. Monitor And Then Report
It is mandatory to keep the aged person under constant observation. The caregiver should monitor them and immediately speak up if there is any problem.
2. Handling Finances
Family members are primarily responsible for the care receiver’s finances. Yet, some small tasks are assigned to the caregivers, like preparing tax returns or paying a due amount. There are background checks done on people who assist with financial accountability for the ill person.
3. Being A Companion
As a caregiver, you have to learn to love strangers. You have to learn to bond with them so that they don’t feel intimidated in your presence.
Judy Cornish once rightly said,
“Offering care means being a companion, not a superior. It doesn’t matter whether the person we are caring for is experiencing cancer, the flu, dementia, or grief. If you are a doctor or surgeon, your expertise and knowledge come from a superior position. But when our role is to be providers of care, we should be there as equals.”
4. Helping With Mobility
Ensuring the safety of the care receiver is of utmost importance. As a caregiver, you must help them in standing up from their wheelchair to go to the bathroom or take a walk in the garden (if possible).
5. Taking Care Of Personal Hygiene
Aged people are prone to illness much more than you are. They might get bedsore. They might not bathe every day. They might not take proper personal care. So you, as a caregiver, need to help maintain personal hygiene by being resilient and gentle.
Caregivers’ most important duty is to remember that they carry the lives of others in their hands. Like any other soldier who fights for his country, you as a caregiver, are required to fight for the patient’s survival, too.