10 Top Senior Caregiver Duties You May Encounter
If you are contemplating taking on the role of primary caregiver for your senior parent, you undoubtedly have various concerns and questions. Among these concerns and questions are those centering on the duties you are likely to encounter as the caregiver for your senior mother or father. Indeed, there are 10 caregiver duties that you will likely face in assisting your mother or father as a primary caregiver:
- Assess medical needs
- Prepare a care plan
- Assist with activities of daily living
- Provide consistent companionship
- Help with housekeeping
- Medication management
- Meal Preparation
- Assess and review the care plan
- Assist with transfer and mobility
- Provide transportation
Assess Medical Needs
Assessing the medical needs of a senior parent can be daunting and potentially overwhelming. To ensure your senior parent is getting the care they need, it’s important to understand what types of medical conditions they may face and how they should be addressed.
The first step in doing so is to understand your parent’s medical history. This includes any chronic illnesses or conditions diagnosed over the years and any medications or treatments they may be taking currently or have taken in the past. Knowing this information can help you identify potential issues that require further evaluation or treatment.
It’s also important to speak with your senior parent about their current concerns and any symptoms they are experiencing. A conversation could reveal signs of pain, fatigue, difficulty breathing, changes in weight or appetite, confusion or memory loss, difficulty sleeping, depression/anxiety, and other physical changes that could indicate more serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, or cancer.
It’s also wise to consider asking your senior parent for permission to speak with their primary care doctor about their overall health and any recent test results that may provide useful information on potential risks or underlying issues. This allows for accurate diagnoses and timely treatment if necessary.
Prepare a Care Plan
Like assessing your senior parent’s medical needs, preparing a care plan for your senior mother or father can be challenging. To ensure you can provide the best care for your aging parent, it is important to take the necessary steps to create a comprehensive and personalized care plan.
As we have just discussed, the first step in creating a care plan is assessing your parent’s current needs. Knowing their exact needs will help you determine what kind of care plan will be most beneficial for them.
Once you know your parent’s needs, you can start thinking about what care best suits them. Various options are available depending on your parent’s particular needs and preferences. They could receive in-home care from professionals such as nurses or aides or move into assisted living or nursing homes if their condition warrants it. You should also consider whether you and other family members might be able to provide some extra support for your senior parent at home by helping out with activities like shopping, cooking meals, doing laundry, and providing transportation if needed.
When choosing a type of care for your senior parent, it is important to consider their physical and emotional well-being. Consider how comfortable they feel receiving help from strangers versus family members or close friends. If necessary, arrange counseling services to help them cope with the changing aspects of growing older.
The next step would be deciding on the source of funding that will pay for the chosen type of care plan, whether it’s insurance coverage, private funds, or public aid programs, such as Medicaid. Research different plans available through local providers and get advice from financial advisors specializing in elderly services if possible. This way, you can ensure that all costs associated with the plan are covered without burdening yourself financially.
Once a suitable arrangement has been made, work closely with healthcare providers involved in setting up the care plan to ensure that all details have been properly addressed, including medications and treatments that may be administered during this period. As discussed later in this article, the care plan needs to be monitored and revised from time to time.
Assist With Activities of Daily Living
A major duty of a typical caregiver for a senior parent is assisting with activities of daily living. Activities of daily living are everyday tasks that an individual must do to support independent living. Activities of daily living are important for a person’s physical health and emotional well-being. By regularly participating in these activities, an individual can meet their basic needs more effectively. These activities also provide opportunities for social connection with other people. Additionally, participating in activities of daily living helps individuals maintain their independence and increases the likelihood of them being able to live at home rather than needing residential care.
Activities of daily living are often divided into basic and instrumental categories. Basic activities of daily living include:
- Toilet use
- Ambulation and mobility
In addition, as a caregiver, you may be called upon to assist with what is known as instrumental activities of daily living. These are activities related to such things as the maintenance of the home environment:
- Meal preparation
- Medication management
Provide Consistent Companionship
Yet another primary duty of caregiving for your aging mother or father will be to provide consistent and reliable companionship. Companionship is an essential part of life for seniors. As people age, loneliness can set in as friends and family move away, pass away, or start to spend less time with them. But companionship doesn’t necessarily mean having lots of people around. Sometimes just one or two close friends or family members can provide the support and connection that seniors need.
Studies show that regular, meaningful contact with others benefits seniors’ physical, mental, and emotional health. Studies have linked social isolation to an increased risk of cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Regular companionship can help combat these risks by giving seniors a sense of belonging and purpose. It can also reduce feelings of loneliness, which can be damaging to their health.
Help With Housekeeping
We already touched on the fact that as part of assisting with activities of daily living, a duty you will face as a senior caregiver is housekeeping for your senior mother or father. This is likely a major component of your efforts on behalf of your senior parent – and it bears mentioning.
As with housekeeping, we did touch on medication management a moment ago. In many instances, medication management is a primary duty of a caregiver for a senior parent. Medication management for seniors is an incredibly important aspect of senior care, as it can help prevent serious health issues and ensure longevity. With the right approach to managing medications, seniors can continue to lead healthy and active lifestyles for many years.
The most important thing for seniors regarding medication management is having the right plan to ensure they don’t miss any doses or take too much or too little of their medication. This means that seniors should always have a copy of their medication list available, keep track of when their prescriptions run out, and take their medications according to the instructions given by their physicians.
It is also incredibly important for seniors to keep up with doctor appointments so that any changes in medications or dosages can be updated promptly. This will also allow physicians to spot any problems associated with certain medications, such as adverse reactions or interactions with other drugs. It’s not just about taking the right amount of medication but also understanding why certain medicines may be beneficial and how they work together as part of a larger healthcare plan.
In addition to following the doctor’s instructions, family members or caregivers should monitor seniors’ medication habits and ensure they adhere to prescribed dosing guidelines. While this can be difficult due to memory lapses or reduced capacity among some senior patients, keeping track of monthly refills or visits to the pharmacy can help alert family members and caregivers if there is cause for concern. Finally, ensuring all necessary medication information is organized and stored safely can help alleviate confusion among family members and caregivers regarding refills or doctor visits.
As the caregiver for an aging parent, you will likely be tasked with meal preparation duties. Eating nutritious meals is extremely important for seniors, especially as they age. Seniors have different dietary needs than younger adults and must pay extra attention to their diets to stay healthy. Focusing on nutrient-dense foods with various vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients can help seniors maintain their health and prevent diseases.
Nutrition plays a critical role in maintaining the health of seniors. Getting enough energy, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals is essential for an active lifestyle. Eating nutrient-dense foods helps seniors get all the important nutrients they need while also helping them stay satiated with fewer calories—making it easier for them to maintain a healthy weight. Eating a balanced diet can also aid in preventing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.
Seniors often experience changes in their appetites as they age, possibly due to reduced metabolic rate or side effects of medications. Many seniors tend to eat less than younger adults because this decreased appetite leads to inadequate nutrition. To combat this problem, seniors should fill their diets with nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables that are low in calories but high in nutrition content. Additionally, lean proteins like fish or poultry can provide important nutrients without adding too many unhealthy fats or calories to the diet.
Assess and Review the Care Plan
The frequency in which a care plan should be reviewed varies depending on the individual situation of each patient and the nature of their illness or injury. Generally speaking, most healthcare teams will review care plans at least once every three months, but this timeline can be adjusted as needed. For example, if a patient is receiving long-term treatments or has a chronic condition such as diabetes or cancer, their care plan should be reviewed more frequently than if they have only had a one-time diagnosis or procedure.
There are also certain circumstances where an immediate review may be warranted. This could include any sudden changes in the patient’s condition or if medications need to be switched out due to side effects or other complications. Additionally, any major changes in the patient’s lifestyle, such as relocation or changes in primary caregivers, should result in an immediate review of the care plan to ensure it properly considers these new elements of their life.
When reviewing a care plan, all parties involved must consider both physical and psychological well-being when making decisions about appropriate treatments and strategies for managing chronic conditions. Patient input is also essential for ensuring that their goals and preferences for managing their illness are considered during the review process. Additionally, attending physician input can assist with addressing any issues that may arise from extensive treatments or hospitalizations and any potential risks associated with transitioning from one medication to another.
Assist With Transfer and Mobility
When it comes to caregiving assistance for a senior parent, you may need to assist in some basic ways. These include what is known as transfer and mobility. Transfer and mobility can consist of getting a senior parent out of bed or a chair and assisting your elderly mother or father in getting around from one part of the home to another and so forth.
Finally, when considering the 10 top duties you may encounter when serving as the caregiver for your parent, transportation is on the list. The time will come (or may already have arrived) when your parent is no longer safe behind the wheel of a car. Therefore, you will be tasked with ensuring that your mother or father can get from one destination to another, including medical appointments, shopping, religious services, and other activities and appointments.