As we are nearing the end of December, our focus here at CareFamily is on planning ahead. How does a family plan ahead for senior care? How can caregivers be prepared to fulfil their role? These are a couple of the questions we are exploring in our articles, videos, and webinars this month.
In this article, we’re going to discuss what every caregiver should know. This is not necessarily a comprehensive list, as caregivers may encounter all kinds of unique cases for which they will need to adapt. That being said, this is a great starting point for caregivers just getting into caregiving well as those seeking to advance their careers. I invite you to join us for our webinar this month to hear more about this topic.
#1: Flexibility Is Key
Again, there’s a reason we can’t have a comprehensive list here. That would require a book. Caring for the elderly necessitates that you remain alert and adaptable. One case might require simple transport and companionship services, while another might require toileting and bathing. And for many caregivers, these cases can be back to back in a single day.
#2: Training Is Available
As we’ve mentioned several times before in articles, videos, and webinars, caregivers have all kinds of options when it comes to training. If you want to look for jobs that offer higher pay, you might consider getting a CNA or LPN license. If, on the other hand, you simply want to become more knowledgeable in your field, you can take advantage of online courses we offer at no cost after you register as a CareFamily caregiver.
When you are stumped about what to do in a particular situation you encounter, training can go a long way. Nowadays, you can even find many of the answers you are seeking through a basic internet search. Feel free to search our site here by typing in the keyword you’re looking for in the search box at the top of this page.
#3: Clear Communication Is Essential
When you’re working with a senior, it’s not only important to have clear communication with him or her, but also with the family. The family will want to know how things are going, and it’s important to be honest with them even if you are having an issue. It’s better to be honest upfront so that false expectations are not created and so that changes can be made if necessary.
In certain situations, you may feel that something is inappropriate or you may be unable to perform the requirements of the case proficiently. In these times, never just quit on a day’s notice or start showing up late to avoid the situation. Instead, be clear in your communication with the family concerning your thoughts. You will either be able to resolve the problem, or you will be able to move on to another position without putting the family in a difficult place.
#4: Pay Is Important
Just because you love caregiving doesn’t mean you should work for pennies. If you are working through an agency, make sure you are clear about how much you are actually making, after taxes. If you are hired directly by a family through a company like CareFamily, you have some more flexibility in terms of pay. You can negotiate the rate at which you are willing to work in the beginning of the case.
Over time, many families will even be willing to give you a raise if you broach the subject in a respectful and reasonable way. If you’re consistently doing your work with excellence, there is no reason to avoid asking for a raise after six months or a year of work.
#5: You Will Get Burned Out
Almost every caregiver will experience some level of burnout at some point. To make sure you are ready for this, create a backup team of other caregivers who can fill a shift or two for you or who would be willing to take your place for a week so you can get a little rest or go on vacation.
The last thing you want to do is remain at work when you are feeling overwhelmed. If you are not mentally, emotionally, and physically strong, how will you be able to care for someone else? It’s important to always make sure you have someone you can share your thoughts and feelings with, who will be there to simply listen. And then when it’s time for a break, take one!
#6: Learn How to Stay Busy and Keep Laughing
Senior caregiving can be stressful. It’s important to know how to stay busy with the senior so both of you can remain positive. Find out what hobbies he or she enjoys and do them together. Whenever possible, laugh. Even if you are the only one laughing, this will help lighten the mood and will even help you physically and mentally throughout the day. There will be plenty of time for rest and quiet while working with a senior, but staying busy and laughing whenever possible are two ways to break up the day and enjoy the work.
#7: Death Is a Natural Part of Life
Obviously, this isn’t something that only caregivers need to know, but it’s especially important for you to accept since you are regularly dealing with the elderly. You will most likely see many of your clients, with whom you develop strong bonds, pass away. This is never easy, but it’s part of the job. It’s so much part of the job, in fact, that if you think you’ll have a very difficult time with seeing people pass away, you may need to consider a different career.
#8: It’s a Highly Rewarding Career!
As a final point, I want to simply encourage you in this career choice. Being a senior caregiver can be one of the most rewarding jobs you’ll ever have. Not only will you feel a sense of fulfillment from being able to support a senior with their needs, but you’ll also feel joy in being able to help a family have peace of mind. Your work behind the scenes does not go unnoticed. Caregivers are truly heroes, and we thank you for all that you do.