Love is a powerful emotion. An emotion experienced by people of all ages, races and cultures. Growing up, I often heard love was blind and had no limits. This love, is often seen in caregivers for the elderly. The love of a Caregiver is a tender love, the kind which shows respect and gratitude.
Who Can Be A Caregiver?
Everyone is a caregiver in some respect. Perhaps you care for your parents, your child, a relative or your pet. Even taking care of a plant labels you as a caregiver. The definition of a caretaker is a person who helps care for the needs of another.
A caregiver is a special occupation which allows you to give every bit of love you have. People who care for the elderly are in a rewarding position. Caring for the elderly allows a person to give love via helping with everyday activities. These activities are called activities of daily living. Otherwise known as ADLs, these activities allow a person to be independent at their highest level of function. ADLs include, but are not limited to, showering, dressing, eating and walking. Most people know ADLs as an everyday normal part of life. As we age, some of these functions become limited and extra help is needed. A caretaker is the person that provides that extra care needed.
Some caregivers receive formal training, this is further discussed below in qualifications of a caregiver.
Maintaining independence is highly reinforced when caring for the elderly. There is an old saying which goes “you don’t move it, you lose it.” The number one priority for a caregiver is to help the elderly keep and maintain their independence at their highest function.
An example would be: If an elderly person has suffered a stroke and is unable to dress themselves, the caretaker may help dress them but the elderly is encouraged to pick out their clothes.
The highest level of independence will vary from person to person. The caretaker will learn the capacities of the person being cared for. Caretakers have no limit on where their care ends; whether the client is completely independent and just needs stand-by-assistance to a complete total care. The love of a caretaker is blind, they see the need to help and are prepared to do it.
Independent VS Total Care
Caretakers are available and ready to care and love every person. Some need reassurance they are safe while others have more needs.
The elderly who are deemed as independent for the most part do all ADLs on their own and request supervision. The most common request is to have a caretaker watch them go to and from the bathroom safely. The interaction between the caretaker and independent person is beautiful to see. It is similar to a budding friendship; a relationship of trust and confidence is established.
Total care elderly may require up to full assistance with ADLs. A caretaker is fully equipped with the knowledge to care for someone who needs total care. Taking care of an elderly person who requires intensive care is special. The caregiver is given complete trust in regards to hygiene, nutrition and emotional support. Someone in total care may even require active and passive range of motion exercises. The exercises are done to prevent muscular contractions and promote comfort. There is nothing more special than seeing a human being completely care for another with heart and soul.
Qualifications for a Caretaker
Different types of caretakers exist. Some have formal training while others are caretakers by heart.
Formally trained caretakers take classes and receive a certificate or license. The certifications vary by state and are often home health aides (HHA), certified nurse assistants (CNA), and registered nurses (RN). Formal training includes correct body mechanics, hygiene, linen care, nutrition, preventing bed sores, and communication.
Caretakers with a certificate are often employed by an agency or hospital. Their services are commonly found by setting up home health and coming to an agreement of daily or weekly visits.
Private duty caretakers are also available and do not have to have formal training. Sometimes private duty caretakers may even live in the residence of the elderly to better care for them.
Most families or individuals seeking a caretaker have a qualification list. The list verifies if the person is the right caretaker and if they can handle the physical and emotional aspect of the job.
Caregiver Checklist (General)
- Formal training.
- Lift objects up to 50 lbs.
- Highly recommended.
Emotional Aspect of Being a Caretaker
It is common to first think about the physical labor of being a caretaker. Depending on the person being cared for, it can be difficult. Ironically, the physical part of the job may be easier than the emotional side.
Caretakers are there to help the elderly through sickness and in health. Many times they are the first to notice something is wrong. When something is wrong, their job does not end when the shift ends. Caretakers are known to bring work home. It is natural, when caring for someone, to see them as family and worry about them. Many caretakers establish a relationship with someone for several years – it is a deeply rooted relationship which cannot be taken away.
The love of a caregiver is special. I challenge you to take a few moments and thank all the caregivers in your life.
About the author:
This post was written by our Nursing Director, Audrey Lefebvre, RN. Please follow Audrey on Facebook.