What is a Caregiver?
A “caregiver” is the term for anyone who looks after a person who needs assistance with daily tasks. Services are most commonly provided for those with impairments relating to old age, disability, a disease, or a mental disorder. Some caregivers are unpaid family members or employed by an agency or even work independently, visiting patients in their home.
Common Caregiver Tasks
- Buy groceries, cook, clean house, do laundry, provide transportation.
- Help the care receiver get dressed, take a shower, take medicine, use the toilet.
- Transfer someone out of bed/chair, help with physical therapy, perform medical interventions—injections, feeding tubes, wound treatment, breathing treatments, etc.
- Arrange medical appointments, drive to the doctor, sit in during appointments, monitor medications, and re-order medications.
- Talk with doctors, nurses, case managers, and others to understand what needs to be done.
- Spend time handling crises and arranging for assistance—especially for someone who cannot be left alone.
- Handle finances and other legal matters (if a designated re-payee or legal guardian).
- Be a companion.
- Be a (usually) unpaid aide, on call 24/7.
As you can see, the list of possible tasks may seem overwhelming. Providing relief and support to those they care for can lead to feeling “burnt out” and overworked. Managing one’s own life and that of someone else is no easy feat. If you are overworked and feeling poorly you may not have enough energy for others. Preventing burn out and practicing self-care is important when the demands of your work and personal life are elevated. Here are some ways providers can give their own excellent care:
Self-care for Caregivers
- Learn and use stress-reduction techniques, e.g. meditation, prayer, yoga, time in nature.
- Attend to your own healthcare needs.
- Get proper rest and nutrition.
- Exercise regularly, even if only for 10 minutes at a time.
- Take time off without feeling guilty.
- Participate in pleasant, nurturing activities, such as reading a good book, taking a warm bath, getting a massage.
- Seek and accept the support of others.
- Seek supportive counseling when you need it, or talk to a trusted counselor, friend, or pastor.
- Identify and acknowledge your feelings, you have a right to ALL of them.
- Change the negative ways you view situations, try to see them as lessons (not failures).
- Set goals. Example: “feel more energized” then, take steps to do so.
Can I be a Paid Caregiver?
It may seem like your duty to care for others, which is very selfless and generous. For those providing nearly around the clock care for family or friends without pay, you may be able to be compensated. To find out if you can do so:
- Determine your eligibility for Medicaid’s Cash & Counseling Program.
- Opt into a home and community-based services program.
- Determine whether your loved one is eligible for Veterans Aid.
- Determine whether your loved one has a long-term care insurance policy that provides for caregiver compensation.
- Determine whether your company offers paid leave for caregivers.
- Determine whether your family is willing to pay you for your care giving time.
- The state of Washington will provide training and pay family members to become caregivers. Use this link to search for resources in your county: https://www.dshs.wa.gov/ALTSA/resources
Check out seniorlink.com for additional help and information.
For those caregivers out there, paid or unpaid, thank you for the work you do. If you need help with your own care, please call us to schedule chiropractic, physical therapy, and massage.