The responsibilities of a caregiver can be overwhelming: Nearly 4 in 10 caregivers suffer from extreme emotional stress as they take care of family. Often, the role of a family caregiver develops slowly. You may offer occasional help or do simple favors for your senior parents—perhaps grocery shopping, helping them pay bills, or driving them to doctor’s appointments. Without even thinking about it, you took on the role of caregiving.
As your parents age and their needs grow, the caregiving responsibilities expand, too. Assisting with some tasks and activities may become a full-time job of medication management, financial caregiving, daily assistance, and physical care. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all alone. By learning the different types of caregivers and how to work with them, you can delegate other care tasks to maintain balance in your personal life.
Professional caregivers may or may not have a medical license but are always certified, providing either medical or non-medical care. Many of these caregivers work in senior housing facilities or are employed by agencies, and typically fall into one of two categories:
- Medical caregivers – These caregivers are trained medical professionals providing hospital care obligations at home, such as a registered nurse giving diabetes care or a physical therapist facilitating rehabilitation services to seniors with mobility problems. The physician usually prescribes these home health services to those who want to recuperate at home.
- Non-medical caregivers – These caregivers provide personal care services on an hourly or round-the-clock basis, depending on the need. They provide care support restricted to what a healthy person can do, such as cooking, cleaning and laundry. They also provide homemaking, medication and companionship support to help older adults maintain independence for as long as possible. You can hire non-medical caregivers even without a recommendation from a doctor.
Many family caregivers belong to the “sandwich generation” who juggle parenting with eldercare. If you find it challenging to meet the care demands of an aging parent with your limited time, hiring a professional caregiver will ensure their health doesn’t end up on the back burner.
Independent caregivers don’t work for agencies but are hired directly to help take care of your family. The family interviews, screens and assigns them as private-duty caregivers. Independent caregivers provide home health services and a wide range of non-medical care services, which is advantageous to the family—and can cost 20 to 30% less than home care agency caregivers. If you’re looking for affordable care services, hiring a senior independent caregiver may be a good option.
(Take note that if you pay $2,300 or more for an independent caregiver, you are considered an employer, which means you’ll need to conform to the IRS rules, such as paying for Social Security and state and federal payroll taxes.)
The goal of hospice care is to deliver comfort and relief to terminally ill patients through compassionate care. Hospice caregivers are part of a hospice team composed of a nurse, doctor, social worker and other health care professionals. Together, they provide hands-on care, like giving a bed bath, mouth care, skin care and other care needs of a person nearing their end-of-life.
When treatment no longer works, and a loved one is expected to have less than six months to live, every day can be enormously challenging. During this time, you should consider hospice care for your loved one in order to best take care of your family. Hospice caregivers specialize in symptom control and pain management and can help ease the severe pain your loved one is experiencing.
Individuals who volunteer their time to help seniors in their community are categorized as volunteer caregivers. They’re part of an organization or a community that offers limited but free home care services, such as house chores, running errands or securing daily supplies for your senior parent.
If you have an important meeting or you need to leave a senior parent for a while, a volunteer caregiver can accompany and look after your aging parent at home. Several resources are available to help you find volunteer caregivers, including:
Local organizations – Local communities often have organizations that help and support family caregivers. Ask if they have volunteer caregivers or can direct you toward local organizations or groups who provide volunteer care and support.
National Volunteer Caregiving Network – This site has a directory of almost 700 organizations that provide volunteer caregiving services nationwide. Volunteers provide non-medical assistance and home maintenance help.
Elder Helpers – The site recruits, screens and organizes training for volunteers to help seniors with light caregiving tasks. To use this platform, volunteers and seniors need to create a profile.
Collaborative care is key to take care of your family
Many family caregivers put their own needs last by doing everything for their loved ones. Although there’s nothing wrong with committing to caring for a senior parent, you also must not neglect your own well-being. That’s why learning how to collaborate with other caregivers is vital. Whether you need reliable backup support in housekeeping or different care needs, it’s through coordinated care you can take care of your family without compromising other aspects of your personal life.