Caregiving can be one of the most difficult jobs in the world, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. The full time caregiver is the only person who cares for the patient in many cases. It is a huge responsibility to be tasked with the care of another human being. Caregivers often fill many roles at once, including a nurse, a counselor, a friend, a family member, and a child who assumes the role of parent. Deciding how and when these distinct roles should overlap is most often at the discretion of the caregiver.
While most of the time it is intuitive to take care of one’s own personal needs, switching gears and caring for the needs of someone else is not always intuitive. For some people it is not easy to put someone else’s needs before your own. Caregivers requires a desire to develop the necessary knowledge and skills that can make life easier and better for someone else, and then comes the realization that caregiving can be incredibly rewarding.
Here are a few examples of the knowledge and skills you need to become a caregiver and to provide exceptional round-the-clock care for your loved one.
- Caregivers should have exceptional verbal and written communication. Having strong communication skills is a very essential caregiving skills. Caregivers must be able to efficiently communicate and interact with their family members, physicians, nurses, and others on behalf of their loved one. Clear and concise written communication is necessary when the well-being of the patient is being reported and/or documented.
- Caregivers should be empathetic and compassionate. While these vital qualities are often considered inherent traits, they are also an extension of interpersonal abilities. An empathetic nature and caring manner are essential to completing the tasks of a caregiver. A very empathetic and compassionate person should possess the ability to navigate delicate social situations with grace as well as demonstrate successful interpersonal skills.
- Caregivers are expected to have incredible patience. Patience is a prerequisite to be a caregiver. The person to whom you are providing care may have a variety of health or other challenging issues that require your attention on a daily basis. Not every caregiver is blessed with someone who is docile and calm, some people become combative and difficult and caregivers need to learn to navigate the differences. It is not always easy to remain calm, sometimes caregivers just need to walk away for a minute to “regroup” but the main objective is to recognize your loved one most often cannot comprehend the difficulty of the situation at that moment. So be patient and know this, too, will pass.
- Caregivers must be keen observers. When caring for an elderly loved one, health situations can deteriorate rapidly. The caregiver should be vigilant of any change in health status or behaviors. If something appears off or irregular, the caregiver must make the determination to call the doctor to report the issues at hand, or contact 911 in the case of a true emergency.
- Caregivers must exercise superb time management. Throughout the day caregivers have a lot to contend with and generally follow a routine timetable. Elderly loved ones also respond more positively if their day is planned and coordinated. Caregivers can avoid undue stress for themselves and their loved ones by having a routine, setting reminders and planning ahead for scheduled appointments.
- Caregivers should be good problem-solvers. There is rarely a day when everything goes precisely as planned, and in caregiving, it’s no different. When plans change, appointments are cancelled or new routine come into play, a caregiver must be able to respond appropriately by either rescheduling or establishing a fresh plan. It could be problematic for both members of the family to panic at the same moment. A caregiver must possess the ability to remain calm during any issue or crisis in order to carry out caregiver tasks in the most effective and efficient manner.
- Caregivers must attain a flexible attitude. Because the condition of a patient can change from day to day, your job as a caregiver can also change. No two days or visits are the same. A caregiver needs to be flexible in order to successfully manage these changes. As caregivers rarely operate on set business hours, this flexibility also applies to scheduling caregiving duties. The needs of a loved one are not, after all, limited to Monday through Friday, from 9 to 5.