Whether you’re looking for a caregiver or need to become one for an aging loved one, here are some important qualities of a caregiver for the best care possible
There are more than 46 million seniors living in America today, and that number is expected to double by 2060.
Finding affordable and comprehensive care for yourself, or the senior citizens in your life, can pose a real challenge. Many people end up in nursing homes or assisted living facilities that are overcrowded or understaffed.
Most seniors prefer to stay in their own home as they get older and require more support. However, sometimes this is only possible with the help of the right caregiver.
What should you look for when hiring a caregiver? How do you know if someone is a good fit?
We want to help you answer those questions with our list of the most important qualities of a caregiver. Read on to hear about what they are.
1. Experience is a Must
Allowing a stranger into your home to help care for you or your loved one can be a scary thing. It’s really important to know that this person has a lot of experience working with seniors in the past.
There are a lot of health-related issues that caregivers need to assist with. While many people in this profession won’t necessarily have a medical degree, they will need to have a great deal of experience with being able to check a patient’s blood pressure, their breathing, and other vital signs.
These aren’t tasks that you want someone performing if they haven’t had a lot of practice with them.
Whether you’re hiring an independent caregiver or someone who works for an agency, they should have no problem providing you with information about how long they’ve been working in the field, and how many clients they have.
If possible, ask to check references. Finding other families who are willing to vouch for them is a great way to put your mind at ease.
2. Patience is More than Just a Virtue
Caring for elderly patients can be challenging. One of the most important traits to look for in a caregiver is patience.
Things can get trickier as people age. There’s nothing worse than having a caregiver who is unkind to you or your loved one when they forget things or are having a rough day.
You want to find someone who will be unwavering in their ability to remain calm, cool, collected and compassionate in any situation they might find themselves in. Especially for people suffering from dementia, a caregiver’s ability to be patient with your loved one is absolutely essential.
Learn more about why seniors with dementia require special care that might go above and beyond what your average caregiver provides.
3. Kindness is Essential
Patience and kindness go hand in hand. You can’t really have one without the other.
For a good number of caregivers, they’re working in this field because they have a passion for working with elderly people. They are naturally compassionate and empathetic people, who find fulfillment by being of service to others.
There is a clear divide between someone who is doing the job for the reasons mentioned above and someone who’s just doing it for a paycheck.
Spend some time with the person you are thinking of hiring. Having a few honest conversations with your potential caregiver should give you some insight into what is motivating them to do the job.
4. Someone Who Can Project
Having strong communication skills is crucial to being a good caregiver.
Many seniors become hard of hearing as they age, so finding someone who can speak loudly and clearly is important.
That being said, you also don’t want someone who’s just shouting at you all day. They need to be able to strike a balance between projecting their voice and still retaining that patience and compassion.
Having good interpersonal skills is important in any job, but in caregiving it can truly make or break a good working relationship.
5. Professionalism is Key
Caregiving is not a job for the squeamish.
There is a lot of deeply personal care that is involved. It requires a level of professionalism and maturity, to be able to handle these situations in a way that leaves people with their dignity.
Good hygiene is more crucial than ever as people age, so finding someone who can attend to these sensitive and personal needs is essential.
6. Physical Strength is Important
It might not seem like too big of a deal, but finding a caregiver who has a certain level of physical strength is actually pretty crucial.
If you or your loved one were to slip and fall, you want someone who can help them up right away. You need a caregiver with the physical strength to help you in and out of bed, the shower, the car, and in many other situations.
That’s not to say that they need to be a bodybuilder, but you want to make sure you find someone who is strong enough to give you the physical support that you need.
7. Someone You Can Count On
All of these other qualities become moot if you hire someone who is not dependable.
You need to know they are going to show up, day after day, week after week. You need to know that they’re going to inform you if they’re ever running late, and to give you enough notice if they get sick, or need to take a day off.
You should be confident that they’re always going to be there to prepare healthy meals, to keep the household running smoothly, and to provide the level of care that you or your loved one deserves.
8. Someone Who is Strong Emotionally
When times get tough, you want someone who can weather the storm.
Lao Tzu once said that: “From caring comes courage.” You want to find someone who embodies this principle.
Whatever tools the caregiver uses-whether it’s humor, distraction, storytelling, or any other coping strategy-they need to have those special skills that help get you through your darker days.
Seek Out These Qualities of a Caregiver
Jayne Byrne, Project Coordinator at a nursing home in Dublin comments that aging can be a challenging and frightening thing, but finding the caregivers out there who have passion for their craft can make a world of difference.
Now that you know what qualities of a caregiver to look for, we wish you luck in finding the right person for the job!
And don’t forget to check back regularly with our blog for more useful advice on how to keep you and your loved ones healthy.
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