5 Qualities to Look For in a Caregiver
If you are looking for a caregiver, or if you are seeking a caregiver for your senior parent, there are some specific qualities that you will want to look for in your search. Specifically, there are five qualities to look for in a caregiver:
If a family member has been the caregiver of an older loved one, that individual may not have had experience before assuming that role. If the decision has been made to seek a professional homecare aide, you want to focus on individuals with experience in the field. Your senior parent or other loved one should not become a training ground for an individual new to the caregiving role.
Because of the importance of experience, when a decision is made to obtain professional caregiving assistance, another option is the possibility of a move to an assisted living community. Such a move better ensures that a senior family member or other loved one is cared for as needed by an individual with experience.
In addition to experience, another key quality to seek in a caregiver is expertise. Broadly speaking, you would not hire a former nanny who tended to children to assist in the care of a senior adult.
Beyond this more generalized expertise, when seeking a professional caregiver with appropriate expertise, you want to select an individual with a developed pedigree in assisting with the needs required of your senior family member. For example, if medication management is a top concern, a selected caregiver needs to have experience in caregiving and established expertise in effective medication management.
Often, a family seeks caregiving assistance for a senior parent diagnosed with dementia. This is a specific area where an engaged caregiver needs expertise. This expertise is something beyond experience in working as a caregiver. Instead, it typically means selecting a caregiver that has a background in working with individuals with dementia but who has also obtained training specific to this type of caregiving work.
Caregiver compassion is a necessity in three different areas when it comes to assisting with the needs of a senior:
- A caregiver must demonstrate compassion for the person receiving assistance
- A caregiver must demonstrate compassion for the family and friends of the person receiving assistance
- A caregiver must demonstrate compassion for his or herself
There can be times when caring for an aging individual can prove challenging. Provided a caregiver truly is compassionate, that individual should be able to address these challenging moments appropriately. A compassionate caregiver is empathetic to an individual in need of assistance with activities of daily living and so forth.
In an aging senior life, a parent or other family member can present unique challenges to the rest of the family. While caregivers cannot walk precisely in the shoes of family members, they can come to a reasoned and compassionate understanding of what they are experiencing.
Finally, regarding the quality of compassion, an effective caregiver will be one who understands that self-care is not selfish. An effective professional caregiver extends compassion to his or herself. The necessity for a caregiver to balance assisting a senior with all other aspects of his or her life cannot be understated. In the final analysis, if a caregiver does not practice self-care, burnout is a very likely, if not inevitable, possibility. Caregiver burnout does no one any good.
Finally, a vital caregiver quality is a patience. In reality, providing assistance as a caregiver to another individual, including a senior, can test a person’s patience. This can be the case even when a particular individual is otherwise an exceptionally patient individual.
On a related note, losing patience is a common and understandable human response to what fairly can be said to be a frustrating situation or moment in time. Part of the caregiver’s quality of patience is knowing when such a professional is on the verge of losing his or her patience. Ultimately, a caregiver needs to have the ability to maintain patience even in challenging situations (more often than not). Moreover, a suitable caregiver must be well-in-tuned to warning signs that his or her patience is ebbing. In that scenario, a skilled caregiver will have an action plan to address waning patience when working with a senior or that older person’s family or other loved ones.
Communication is yet another key quality needed by a professional caregiver. Communication is a multifaceted quality.
First, when it comes to communication, a caregiver must be able to communicate effectively with the individual in his or her care. A caregiver must communicate with seniors in his or her care in a respectful and understanding manner.
Second, when it comes to the necessity of a caregiver to be an effective communicator, that individual must be able to communicate consistently well with the family members of the person being assisted. This includes having the tenacity to convey difficult information to the loved ones of a senior, even when that can be challenging.
Finally, a caregiver must be able to establish and maintain open lines of communication with other members of a senior’s care team. These team members may include:
- Primary care physician
- Other healthcare providers
- Certain family members
- An agent designated through a power of attorney
- Other individuals that provide important support to a senior
In undertaking due diligence to select an ideally suited professional caregiver for a senior parent, senior family member, or other loved one in his or her Golden Years, these five key qualities can serve as a guide. Through a review of a prospective caregiver’s resume, an in-person interview, and feedback from references, a solid decision is more likely to be made when selecting an appropriate caregiver for an aging family member.