Could you become a home caregiver for a family member or a friend? Do you have what it takes to make a difference in someone’s life? We are sure that you are a kind and caring person or you would not even be considering it.
Many times family members find that it is the right thing to do and it provides a deep sense of fulfillment. Other times they attempt caregiving and find that the task is just too much for them to bear.
You need to know beforehand just what it is that you are considering committing yourself to. If you prepare yourself first, then you will be much better able to handle it well.
Why Do I Want To Be a Caregiver?
You seriously must ask yourself that question. Perhaps you simply want to help your loved one. Do you feel that you can do a better job than anyone else that may be available?
Love for the patient is the number one reason non-professional caregivers take on this task. Whether it is a friend or family, caring about the patient goes a long way to help offset some of the task difficulties.
However, there are some who care more about themselves than the patient. In the case of such caregivers, more harm is done to the patient than good. Unfortunately, we have seen that by greedy relatives who lived in the home and just didn’t want to lose the home. While Grandma was in the hospital, the relative was collecting her social security check and spending it on drugs. Misuse of funds like that is a form of elder abuse. Legal action can and should be taken against such abuse.
If you feel that your choice is for the right reasons, then you still need to ask yourself a few more questions. To be a home caregiver and do it successfully requires some special personal traits. Not everyone is suited for this special task.
Do You Have The Physical Strength To Do The Job?
Giving personal care can sometimes be a backbreaking job. You must keep yourself physically fit or you won’t be able to handle the tasks involved. As your patient ages or illness progresses, you will find your loved one can do less and less. That means you will have to do more and more.
Moving your patient from one place to another will require a good deal of strength. A slider board can help you to move the patient from the bed to the wheelchair. A lift can help you place that patient on a bedside commode. But you will still need to be able to do those things. They are all a part of the activities of daily living. You will need to learn how to make those movements without injuring yourself.
Are You Strong Enough Mentally And Emotionally?
Many people underestimate the amount of stress that can come from caring for a an elderly or disabled person. Often the patient will become irritable and take things out on the caregiver. They may be upset with their own inability to do things but the caregiver is there and becomes the target. There may be financial pressures that never seem to end. You may simply need a break but there is no one there to help you.
There are many things besides this that often create stress. These are just a few examples. Are you strong enough to handle this and still try to put a smile on your patient’s face?
Singer Songwriter Amy Grant has experienced the same kind of emotional turmoil because of the failing health of her parents. Here is a short video with three of her amazing tips for coping.
Are You a Patient Person?
It is important to be patient in all areas of your caregiving. Impatience can hurt the feelings of your loved one. It can also cause you to make costly mistakes. Someone who takes an hour to eat a few bites of food may get on your nerves. You have other things you need to be doing too. But those few bites of food are nutrition that your patient needs badly.
Allowing yourself to become impatient will make your caregiving efforts frustrating, poor and ineffective.
Are You Slow To Anger Or Quick Tempered?
Curbing your own tendency to lose patience and become angry is essential to good caregiving. Your patient may ask you to do a million things one right after another. They may wait until you sit down and then think of something else that they need.
Remember that they must ask you as they are not able to do things for themselves. You must realize that being quick tempered can cause you to actually do harm to your loved one.
Mental, emotional and physical abuse often arise out of someone not being able to handle their temper. You don’t want to risk having that to happen.
Do You Get “Cabin Fever” If You Cannot Get Out Of The House?
Before you make a long term commitment to care for someone, you must recognize your own natural tendencies. An important one is whether you can remain inside for long periods of time. Some patients become completely bedfast. The only way you can leave them is if there is someone who can relieve you.
If your patient is able to go out with you then that can relieve both of you from cabin fever. When Jay’s friend/patient is well enough, they often take a short daily ride.
Do You Have A Good History With The Patient?
You fought all your life with your Mother or Dad. Suddenly, something happens and you have to take care of them. If this were the actual case, then it will be very hard for you to provide such care. It is not impossible but you may need some help. You may need some counseling to learn how to deal with this new caregiving responsibility. If your history has been good, then your chances to cope with such care are also good.
Do You Have A Full Understanding Of The Patient’s Illness And Probable Outcome?
If you don’t, then you need to learn as much as you can about it. Some illnesses have symptoms that cannot be overlooked or your loved one can be in sudden danger.
You also need to know how to deal with changes in personality. Are these changes a part of the illness? The more you know the better you will be able to handle it.
Do You Have The Needed Skills Or Know How To Get Them?
When caring for a loved one you may find yourself in need of some skills that you never needed before. You will need to learn how to lift and move a patient in a proper manner so as not to risk doing harm to yourself.
Learning how to check a blood pressure, pulse and respirations are not that difficult to learn. You can consult a healthcare professional and learn them in one afternoon. There are also videos on You Tube to assist you.
If your patient is diabetic then you need to know how to check their blood sugar. You need to learn the symptoms of low blood sugar and what to do as this can be an emergency.
When you call your healthcare provider, it is always helpful to be able to answer their questions relating to these simple skills. It helps them to help you to care for your patient.
Putting The Care In Caregiving
To give proper care in a home, your first priority must be that of your patient. You need to do everything in your power to see to it that they really do get the tender loving care that they need. They are your responsibility. They are just as dependent on you as a tiny baby would be.
You must keep them clean, dry, and keep their skin moisturized and healthy. You must watch their nutrition and be sure that they get what they need. You must also be sure that they get some needed exercise to keep their muscles from withering away.
You will have the ability to make that person’s day a good one or a bad one. Your attitude towards them should always be one of caring. If you have read this far down, then it may be because you are one of the fortunate few.
You may realize that you have found your purpose in life. You are one of those who is truly thrilled when you are able to make someone else’s life better. That is when you realize that there really is true joy in caregiving.
The Importance of Having the Right Knowledge
We mentioned learning needed skills above. In addition to learning how to take the vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, heart rate), You need to learn how to perform CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.) Not having this knowledge could seriously put the wellbeing of your loved one or patient at great risk ! If you don’t know how to do these, then you MUST learn how to do it. You can take a class somewhere or at the very least you can learn from some videos.
Below are two very helpful videos that you SHOULD watch to learn how to take vital signs and perform CPR for your loved one or patient at home…
Taking Vital Signs Training Video
New Guidelines for CPR in an easy to understand video
As you can see, it is no longer a complicated procedure trying to do CPR. Simply call for help and get hands on. We suggest that you review these videos every so often to be able to remember them long term. You never know when you may need these skills whether you become a caregiver or not. You may simply be in the right place at the right time.
Are You Still Considering Becoming a Caregiver?
Does it seem like being a home caregiver is an almost impossible task? It can seem that way but we have known many people who lack some of these suggested skills or qualities. Even so, many of them are excellent caring caregivers. They simply learned how to adapt to the job. However, the job should not be taken lightly.
Unfortunately, we have also come across people who actually got the training to do CNA work who were not really caring people. They thought that being an in home caregiver would be an easy job where they could be there for a few hours each day and collect a paycheck.
If that is your attitude, please do not become a caregiver. Yes, there are some situations that are easy. Others are quite difficult. No matter whether it is easy or hard, unless you go in with the purpose of making life better for the patient, then you do not need to be there. You can get a paycheck some other way. Not only will you make the patient’s life miserable but you will be too.
Good caregivers are badly needed. That is both for full time caregivers and also for those who can just devote a few hours a day. Home Health Agencies are always looking for good caring people.
We encourage you, if you have looked at the obstacles and are still here, please consider getting the training, if you need it. If you have a loved one who is facing going into a nursing home, see if you are capable of making a huge difference in their lives. If you have the caring attitude… you can get the training. We have given you some things to think about. The rest is up to you.
Your comments are always welcome.
Jump to section of page
- 1 Why Do I Want To Be a Caregiver?
- 2 Do You Have The Physical Strength To Do The Job?
- 3 Are You a Patient Person?
- 4 Are You Slow To Anger Or Quick Tempered?
- 5 Do You Get “Cabin Fever” If You Cannot Get Out Of The House?
- 6 Do You Have A Good History With The Patient?
- 7 Do You Have A Full Understanding Of The Patient’s Illness And Probable Outcome?
- 8 Do You Have The Needed Skills Or Know How To Get Them?
- 9 Putting The Care In Caregiving
- 10 The Importance of Having the Right Knowledge
- 11 Are You Still Considering Becoming a Caregiver?