If you are interested in offering help for elderly family members living at home, becoming an in-home family caregiver is a great start.
Offering your services as a caregiver can be a fulfilling path, as either a volunteer or a paid caregiver. Some people even choose to become a caregiver for a family member. No matter which option is most appropriate for you, you will need to learn how to become a caregiver and to find tips for taking care of the elderly or other people seeking assistance.
What is a caregiver?
A caregiver is a person who assists persons in need of an extra hand in carrying out personal activities. This may include the elderly, veterans, people living with a disability, or patients recuperating at home. Your caregiving duties might be as simple as buying groceries, driving the individual around, or reminding them to take their prescription medicine. However, some people need more significant assistance with daily living.
Understanding what a caregiver is will help you decide whether to work as a volunteer or as a paid caregiver. While in most cases you will only spend a few hours offering help for the elderly living at home, sometimes the duties may take so much of your time that you cannot work an additional job.
This means it is essential to choose your path wisely to avoid problems in meeting your own personal needs, such as paying your bills. All the same, assisting others can also be beneficial to your health, with some researchers suggesting it can help you live longer.
Becoming a caregiver for a family member, for instance, relieves you of the worries of leaving your loved ones with a stranger. You are assured that they are comfortable, aging gracefully, and not being taken advantage of. Knowing the best tips for taking care of the elderly will help you improve the care you give to your own loved ones.
How To Become a Caregiver
There are two main paths you can take to become an in-home family caregiver. The first is volunteering; the second is creating a career out of caregiving.
If you are thinking of working as a volunteer, your greatest asset will be a passion for taking care of those in need. Many nonprofit organizations offer free caregiving services and rely on volunteers to meet their clients’ needs. The organization should provide training so you know exactly what a caregiver is and the precise responsibilities of a volunteer caregiver through the organization you choose. Since you will not get compensation for your volunteer services, planning your time well is vital to effectively combine your regular job and caregiver activity to avoid caregiver burnout.
In most cases, you are not required to possess any specific training to work as a non-medical caregiver, but, of course, having some understanding of the best ways to work with patients and their families is a big help. Working as a certified nursing assistant, on the other hand, requires college training and certification so you can work as a medical caregiver.
You can become a family caregiver through any of the following ways:
- Join a caregiver agency as an employee; you will be assigned a client (a family member) by the employer and get a monthly salary, just like any other job.
- Get direct employment from people in need of assistance or their family; the person or their family will provide compensation for your services.
- Offer caregiver services to people who qualify for government caregiver stipends; you will get paid by the government.
- Volunteer through an organization or for your loved ones; you can care for a family member, a friend, or a neighbor without expecting payment for your services.
People with certain qualities may make a better in-home caregiver or may find more enjoyment from the process. You should be flexible and able to work in different locations and living environments. Note that your primary responsibilities will be offering help for the elderly living at home. You should also possess or be willing to build on your communication skills to communicate effectively with your clients. Perhaps the most important thing is being able to handle clients with care and respect. While caring for the elderly, many of your clients will require assistance with personal activities, such as bathing and toiletry. Maintaining dignity in these situations can be difficult but also necessary.
Tips for Family Caregivers
Becoming a caregiver for a family member may be a bit challenging, especially if it consumes most of your time. Doubling as a caregiver and a professional with your own, separate profession can quickly result in caregiver burnout.
To avoid burnout, you should consider requesting compensation and concentrating on one activity. Some things to consider and help you choose wisely before becoming a caregiver for a family member include:
- Check if you are eligible for paid leave for caregivers from your employer. If you qualify, you can comfortably manage your caregiving without financial strain, which can contribute to caregiver burnout.
- Investigate your loved one’s insurance coverage. Some plans provide caregiver compensation.
- Confirm whether or not your loved one is enlisted for veteran caregiver aid.
- If the above considerations are not an option, consider discussing the possibility of asking other members of the family to compensate you.
Although the lack of compensation can be a significant contributor to caregiver burnout, it is not the only issue. There are other forms of support for loved ones who step in as elderly or disability caregivers. This support is offered by state and local caregiver support groups. These support groups will help you deal with the various challenges associated with caregiving.
Taking Care of Yourself
Longtime caregivers are at an increased risk of depression because of caregiver burnout and lack of time for self-care. Just a few, simple caregiving tips can reduce these risks. Make sure you sleep for seven to eight hours each day and get regular exercise. Schedule time to spend alone recuperating or with loved ones who don’t require quite as much of you. If you are experiencing caregiver burnout or symptoms of depression, reach out to a support group near you.
For More Information
If you would like more information about how to become a caregiver or find support for loved ones who care for the elderly, we can help. Contact CareLink, or call us at (800) 482-6359. Together, we can help ease your caregiving journey.