Caring for a loved one can be extremely stressful yet rewarding. But many family members aren't quite sure of all the duties and responsibilities that they will take on as a caregiver. When taking on this role, however, it's best to be as prepared as possible. To best care for your loved one, here's a list of the most common family caregiver duties.
Unfortunately, as our loved ones age or their conditions worsen, they may not be able to make important decisions on their own. When you start caring for a loved one, you may need to become their proxy for health-related decisions. A healthcare proxy is a document that legally designates someone to make healthcare decisions on behalf of someone else. By becoming the designated proxy, you can ensure that your loved one's interests and needs are met.
State laws vary on the exact criteria for appointing a healthcare proxy. So, to become a legal proxy, you may need to consult an elder law attorney.
Personal care is one of the most fundamental family caregiver responsibilities. This encompasses assisting with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, and toileting. These tasks, often taken for granted, require sensitivity to maintain the dignity and comfort of your loved one.
It may feel uncomfortable to provide personal care at first; you and your senior loved one might feel embarrassed. However, making sure these basic needs are met are crucial to the overall health and happiness of your family member.
If your loved one isn't able to make sound financial decisions on their own, they may need help in this area. Many older adults fall victim to elder fraud scams, or they aren't able to remember to pay their bills on time.
By working with your loved one, you can help them manage finances. If you need legal power behind you, power of attorney allows your loved one to designate someone to handle the finances while they are still living. With power of attorney, you can write checks and pay bills on behalf of your loved one.
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Your loved one will need a reliable form of transportation to safely to and from medical appointments or social visits. Depending on your loved one's condition, you may find yourself traveling to and from doctor's offices frequently.
Providing transportation requires careful scheduling, organization, and patience, often involving long waits and potentially stressful situations. But remember that you are serving as a bridge between your loved one and the outside world. Without your help, your loved one would not have access to the care and support they need.
Beyond the physical realm, family caregivers provide a profound level of emotional support to their loved ones. Coping with health challenges can be emotionally taxing, and caregivers often find themselves offering a listening ear, reassurance, and companionship. They become pillars of strength, offering encouragement during difficult times and celebrating even the smallest victories.
As you act as an emotional pillar of strength for your loved one, don't forget about your own mental health. Taking care of a loved one can be very stressful and take an emotional toll on you. Find support groups and healthy ways to manage your stress to help you cope, too. This could also involve hiring respite care every now and then.
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Nutrition plays a vital role in overall well-being, but cooking can actually become quite dangerous for seniors. There are lots of sharp objects int he kitchen, and plenty of room for accidents or falls. So, many family caregivers take on the responsibility of planning and preparing meals.
Meal preparation, however, not only involves meeting specific dietary requirements but also ensuring a balanced diet. It also extends to grocery shopping, monitoring eating habits, and adhering to food safety principles.
Managing medications is another critical aspect of caregiving, especially when caring for someone with chronic illnesses or multiple prescriptions. Seniors take the most prescription medications out of any age group. And many of these prescriptions can have adverse effects if not taken correctly.
Family caregivers can help their loved ones with organizing, administering, and monitoring medication schedules. Since you spend the most time with your loved one, you can also monitor side effects and take notes for doctors in case medications need to be adjusted. This duty requires a keen eye for detail and a responsible approach.
Finally, another big caregiving duty is managing the house to ensure a comfortable and safe environment. This can include everything from light housekeeping and laundry to more complex tasks like coordinating home repairs. By assuming these duties, family caregivers contribute to a sense of stability and safety for their loved ones.
While these are just some of the most common family caregiver duties, it's still a lot to take responsibility of! However with time and practice, you will learn your loved one's needs and preferences to provide the very best care. And if you ever need a break, our professional caregivers are here to lend a helping hand. Just reach out to your local office.