From an aging population to an increasing number of people living with chronic disease or disability, there are many reasons why someone may need to hire a caregiver. If you are someone who wants to become a caregiver or is seeking knowledge on caregiving out of necessity, several pieces of information are crucial to understanding the position. Though caregiving can be a rewarding job, it is far above and beyond a “clock out and forget about it” obligation. With real lives and health on the line, it is important to understand both the pros and cons of the role before taking it on. Itching to know more? Read on to find out what you should prioritize and what you can expect from a caregiver position.
Deal With Realities
One of the most difficult things about seeing a loved one deal with old age, dementia, or other diseases, is watching them go through the stages of loss. Due to reduced functionality in the brain and/or body, it’s important to deal with realities. In other words, it’s of the utmost importance that you make care-taking decisions based on fact rather than what the patient or family member tells you. Oftentimes, there can be shame or denial surrounding decreased functionality. This causes people to underplay their symptoms and, in turn, makes it difficult to accurately assess their needs. Be sure to properly and effectively assess their level of individual function before assigning care. If an individual is forgetful to the point of danger- they should have round-the-clock supervision. If an individual needs physical aid, they should have access to the right tools and equipment. That being said, it is still important to respect patients’ autonomy. Just because a person is not operating at full capacity does not mean they don’t deserve respect. For any caregiver-patient relationship to thrive, individuals should always be treated like self-sufficient adults.
It can be tough to retain a sense of detachment and professionalism when family members take care of other family members. In any situation that requires a caregiver, that person should always remember to adequately take care of their own mental and physical health. No caregiver can provide their best care without first attending to their own needs. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to defer to professional services. This is especially true for attendants or nurses that care for elderly people, people with chronic disease, or other individuals that require complicated medical care. It is always best to choose someone with the most fitting credentials. If you’re looking to become a caregiver yourself, start by acquiring the proper licenses and insurance. This will ensure you don’t end up assuming unnecessary liability in the case that anything goes wrong with your patient. Obtaining legal documents will save you money and heartache in the long run.
Though it is easy to approach caregiving with healthcare as your main directive, the truth is, it’s a very personal profession. Throughout your assignments, you will and should create a special bond with the people that you care for. While caregiver stress is always something to be cautious of when caring and residing with someone, it also gives ample room to build an enriching relationship. Even if you’re prepared for the medical and health-related aspects of caring for a patient, many remain unprepared for the emotional connection they begin to feel. The key lesson here is that it is perfectly okay, even encouraged, to maintain a friendly and open countenance with your patients. That being said, it should never impact your ability to provide professional care. One of the most rewarding parts of caregiving is seeing a tangible difference in the lives of the people you care for. You can truly make a change for the better, as long as you maintain a safe emotional distance.
Caregiving is considered by many to be an extremely altruistic calling. Using your familiarity with medicine, mental health, and bodily function, you can provide a highly needed and appreciated service. As the population ages and different health challenges arise, caregivers are very much in demand. Provided you prepare yourself for the mental and physical challenges that can arise when working in such close proximity with another person, the field needs additional employees. Like anything, caregiving has its downsides and its benefits, however, you should never lose sight of the importance of the position. Healthcare is not something that should be taken lightly, so if you’ve gotten through this article and still feel as strongly about becoming a caregiver, you should continue to pursue it.