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What is a caregiver and what are the benefits of having one?  Caregivers are professionals who assist seniors in their everyday lives. Any senior who feels that they're falling behind in their daily tasks or simply want to reduce the number of responsibilities on their to-do list may benefit from a caregiver. If you've never considered hiring one to help you or a loved one, the list of benefits may just change your mind. Explore the ways a caregiver can improve your life or the life of someone you love.

 

Caregivers Provide Non-Medical Support

Working with a caregiver adds another dimension to a senior's life. Seniors can often feel that their lives have been reduced to a series of medical appointments. Medical issues are important, but a singular focus on problems associated with the body can make life feel impersonal and limited. A caregiver looks at the fine details of the whole person rather than the big-picture issues of the body. For many seniors, this kind of personal long-term care and attention paid to comfort and happiness provides welcome relief.  This kind of help may seem small, especially for those who don't currently need help taking care of basic tasks like going to the bathroom, bathing, cooking, running errands and cleaning the house, but for a senior who's feeling overwhelmed by these everyday responsibilities, the help a caregiver provides is life changing. Caregiving provides non-medical support and focuses on helping with the everyday demands of life.

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Caregivers Provide a Link to the Life You've Always Known

Caregivers can be seen as a stepping stone for seniors who are still independent enough to live at home and don't require constant medical care but do need help with the logistics of maintaining a comfortable and healthy lifestyle. A caregiver can be the key to allowing you to stay in familiar surroundings and with the life you've always known. Many seniors note that aging is difficult because of how fast it seems to happen. One day you're living a routine life in the home you've known for years and the next you're unable to keep up with the daily life tasks you used to handle with no issue.

 

Opting for homemaker care rather than assisted living makes for a less dramatic and more comfortable lifestyle change, one that allows seniors to retain a sense of independence and stay put for a little while longer. Being able to stay in a happy and pleasant environment like this just makes life better. If staying in a home you know you can afford and that feels comfortable for you is the best current option, then caregivers can help.

 

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Still, being emotionally comfortable and physically comfortable isn't necessarily the same thing. Any tasks or obligations that are frustrating or physically challenging, such as vacuuming, mopping, changing bed sheets, dusting high shelves, changing heavy winter blankets for lightweight summer quilts, are the types of tasks caregivers can help with.

 

Caregivers Allow a Renewed Sense of Freedom

Independence—the desire to maintain it, to hold on to it as long as possible—is a major concern for many seniors. Our minds may be as sharp as they once were, but our bodies often don't cooperate as well as they did in the past. This often means that certain activities we used to enjoy aren't so pleasant anymore. Whether it's gardening, cooking, going to get new books from the library or doing little fix-it projects around the house, some seniors find that the things they used to do to entertain themselves are a little bit too difficult.

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There are other reasons seniors can give up on activities they once enjoyed, including the fact that they simply don't have the time or energy after taking care of day-to-day responsibilities. This is the stage in life where you planned to enjoy life and pursue your interests, but you might not have the energy to do so. The freedom to do what we want feels different through the lens of the aging. But a caregiver can help restore some of your time and energy by taking over the tasks you find so draining or by helping you out as you pursue these activities.  This may take some adjustment for some seniors, but many find that the adjustment period is shorter than they expected because they get such a useful benefit out of the caregiver's assistance. The idea of personal freedom no longer means doing everything for yourself, but that is itself a relief for many people.

 

Caregivers Provide Relief for Friends and Family

Caregivers provide help and relief for seniors and, in doing so, they also provide help and relief for the loved ones in those seniors' lives. While most of us are happy to do everything we can for the people we love, even the most selflessly devoted daughter, husband, or neighbor may reach a point where they begin to feel burdened or burned out from the level of care and attention they're providing to another person. This is a recognizable phenomenon known as caregiver fatigue and it can bring up serious feelings of guilt and resentment in the people who suffer from it. Self-care is important, but it's hard to do nice things for yourself when you're so selflessly focused on the care of another person.

 

Caregivers do this kind of selfless work for a living. It's not something they have to take time out of their schedules to do—it makes up the bulk of their work lives. This isn't to say that caregivers don't experience caregiver fatigue, but they experience it in the way all people do when they become a little frustrated with their jobs, and they can handle it in the same way too. A professional caregiver can take time off, go on a vacation and not worry about their clients' care during that time. Families don't really have this option.

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This professional separation can also make it easier for seniors to reach out and seek help. For some people, the dynamics of the parent-child relationship never really goes away and the idea of being managed by one's son or daughter can feel uncomfortable. The question of independence is important in this area as well. A caregiver is a service professional, not a family member, so the parent-child authority balance isn't in play. If the setup between the caregiver and the client isn't working out, seniors and their families can always hire someone else who might be a better fit.

 

Private Caregiving Provides Reliable, Helpful Companionship

Everyone has trouble asking for help sometimes, but it can be especially hard to ask for help when something is embarrassing or otherwise painful to admit. Caregivers are exactly the kind of people you can ask to help with these sorts of things. It's their job to help out, and they'll want to do what they can to make your life better, even if it's something you don't feel comfortable asking of friends or family members. Having someone you can trust to handle personal care tasks is a major benefit for some seniors, but that doesn't mean that caregivers are distant and cold. In fact, relationships between caregivers and their clients are often warm and friendly. Because you're working so closely together and because trust is so integral to the relationship, many seniors come to see long-term caregivers as friends. As you spend time together, you'll chat, learn about each other's lives and form a bond. Caregivers are usually younger than the seniors they serve, and they may be eager to hear interesting stories and sage wisdom from someone with more life experience.

 

This kind of personal connection is a major benefit of homemaker care, particularly for seniors who are living in homes after spouses have passed away and children have flown the nest for different cities or states. Our social lives don't always expand as we get older and while you may be active in your community, feeling lonely at home can hurt. This is normal, but it's not something you just have to accept. Caregivers provide valuable companionship in addition to their other helpful duties.

 

For more information or to set up a one on one consultation, call 5 Star in Chattanooga at 423-893-8181.  For middle Tennessee, call 931-474-7823.  Or visit www.5starHomeCare.com

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