How to choose a caregiver for an elderly person?

It is common for the elderly to need support and care when carrying out daily activities. This need applies not only to immobilized elderly people but also to those who are fit and lack only companionship. Regardless of whether care concerns dependent or independent elderly people, it should be provided by a qualified caregiver for the elderly. When choosing a caregiver for our loved one, we face one of the most important decisions. Not only because we want to provide him with the best possible care, but also because we know how important the caregiver is in the life of the mentee. It’s not just someone who helps with everyday activities. It is above all a companion who becomes a part of his life. 

Competences of the Senior Caregiver

Before we choose a caregiver for the elderly, we need to think about what we expect from him. Every senior is different, and it often happens that the requirements related to care change during cooperation. However, certain competencies and features of a caregiver for the elderly are universal and necessary to meet the requirements of a senior. It is worth paying attention to whether the potential caregiver for an elderly person has them.

Caregiver personality

Recruiting caregivers for the elderly is not the easiest task. First of all, the safety of the senior should be taken into account. Elderly people often require specialist care, which is why it is crucial to hire a professional caregiver for an elderly person. When deciding with whom we will cooperate, it is worth considering what services we want to use to help the elderly.

Caregiver empathy

The ability to empathize with the emotions of the other person is certainly essential in the work of a caregiver. Thanks to this, he can better understand his desires, fears, and concerns. This, in turn, is the basis for building a strong and trusting relationship.

Communication skills – a bridge between the caregiver and the mentee

A good caregiver not only listens but is also able to express his thoughts clearly. Effective communication is essential to be able to respond appropriately to the needs of the elderly person and to inform the family about any important matters. The communicativeness of the caregiver is the key to effective and successful cooperation because seniors often have no one to entrust their worries to, or do not want to burden them with the family. Therefore, language and communication skills are necessary to be able to improve the well-being of the mentee. Care for the elderly is not only about providing help in the physical dimension because psychological support is equally important for the overall harmony of functioning.

Compliance – the foundation of trust

Confidence that we can rely on the caregiver, we trust him is extremely important, especially when he lives with the mentee. It must be ready to act, both in everyday situations and in the event of unexpected events. The family must be sure that they can rely on the caregiver at all times. Finally, the person using the assistant should feel safe and comfortable.

Patience – the art of understanding and support

Being a companion of an elderly person is not easy. Caring for a senior can bring many challenges. Moments of frustration, misunderstanding, or fatigue are natural. A patient caregiver can then remain calm, give support, and guide the mentee through difficult moments. For an experienced caregiver, there is no situation without a solution, and little can surprise him.

Assertiveness – the ability to take care of the good of the mentee

In certain situations, the caregiver must be able to clearly and assertively communicate his or her position on matters relating to the needs of his or her mentee. This can be about medical decisions, the organization of the day, or setting boundaries. Assertiveness is the ability to take care of the good of the senior, but also about one’s own needs.

Courage – readiness to act

The caregiver must be ready to make decisions, even difficult ones. It is often the person who is the first to react to unforeseen situations or health problems of the mentee. Courage is the key to effective care.

Availability – always present in times of need

A person who has undertaken round-the-clock care at home must be available practically at all times. It is not only a matter of physical presence, but also readiness to support, talk, or help in an unexpected situation.

Flexibility – adaptability

The needs of the elderly can change from day to day. Therefore, the caregiver must be flexible and able to adapt to new situations, while maintaining a high standard of care. He should be a companion of the senior through thick and thin.

Physical preparation of the caregiver

A senior is not always able to function independently and perform daily activities on their own. Therefore, the caregiver undertaking the work must be aware of how much effort this work requires. For this reason, he must have the appropriate physical preparation. Often, the health condition of the senior is associated with the need to perform activities such as carrying or lifting the mentee, which is why the caregiver must be able to cope with this task. It is equally important that the caregiver accepts getting up at night when the mentee needs help. Older people often need round-the-clock support, so being ready to work unusual hours is crucial.

Caregiver’s health status

There is no way for a person who needs help to help others. The work of an assistant for the elderly is demanding. It involves a lot of sacrifices and commitment. In addition, the role of the caregiver of an elderly person is extremely responsible, which is why it is not possible for a person whose condition does not allow for full and professional performance of duties to undertake work in care. Therefore, the health of a potential caregiver is another important element that is worth paying attention to. Good physical fitness of the caregiver will not only allow for more effective performance of duties but also ensure the safety of the mentee. A sick or weakened caregiver may not be able to meet certain challenges that may suddenly arise during care. Therefore, before making a decision, it is worth conducting an accurate diagnosis of what people in need of care require.

Remember that the right choice of caregiver for an elderly person is the key to ensuring their comfort and safety. Working with a healthy caregiver with good physical condition, we can be sure that the patient will be provided with the best possible care.

Candidate’s experience in care services

When choosing a caregiver for an elderly loved one, it is important to pay attention to their experience in the care industry. Working in care is not only about doing household chores or helping in everyday activities but also understanding the specifics of the senior’s needs. An experienced caregiver will be able to better anticipate and react to possible problems and effectively communicate with the mentee while building trust and a sense of security.

References of a caregiver of an elderly person than previous employers

Thanks to written opinions from previous seniors or their families, we can learn about the strengths of the caregiver, whether he can create warm relationships with the charges, and whether he fulfilled all the duties of a caregiver of an elderly person. Employing a caregiver is therefore associated with the need to ask for references. This should be a standard procedure during the interview, as it allows you to get to know the candidate thoroughly and minimize the risk of mistakes. When reading references, attention should be paid to the scope of duties of the caregiver, and in particular to the diseases occurring in seniors with which he had to deal.

Courses and trainings held by a senior caregiver

Specialist care for the elderly is not able to be provided by everyone. Education in the field of care for seniors is the key to professionalism. The willingness to constantly expand knowledge and competencies is a testimony to the commitment of the tutor to professional work, so when choosing a tutor, it is worth paying attention to the courses and training he has completed. It is a measurable indicator of his commitment to personal development and a testament to his extensive knowledge of elder care. Only a qualified caregiver for the elderly will give a sense of security and peace of mind to the family.

The relationship between the senior and the caregiver

The key element worth paying attention to is building a positive relationship between the senior and the caregiver. Support during adaptation is essential, especially when the senior caregiver moves to a new location. Understanding the culture and getting to know the senior’s family can help alleviate feelings of loneliness. In addition, it is important to provide the caregiver with an adequate amount of rest and free time, only in this way he will be rested and ready to work, which translates into a better quality of care provided. Therefore, the requirements of the caregiver of the elderly should be taken into account to be able to meet his expectations regarding cooperation. Only then will it be able to proceed effectively.

Senior and family requirements

Relatives of the senior must think carefully and determine what he needs and what they require from the caregiver. An employee of a care agency should conduct a meticulous interview to learn about the family’s assumptions about care. Relatives and caregiver agencies mustn’t hide anything from the caregiver. All arrangements and requirements should be included in a precisely written contract. This applies to both household chores and the number and method of reporting days off.

When choosing a caregiver, we must take into account the number of charges to be cared for, their health, illnesses, and mobility. The extent of care they need is crucial – including whether the caregiver will have to get up at night to help the senior. In such a situation, it is worth considering round-the-clock home care. It is a model of care involving the need for the caregiver to live with the mentee, to help him whenever the need arises. Such job offers are extremely popular in Germany, but not only. Certainly, care with residence is an option that gives the family confidence that the person closest to them is constantly under the care of a professional caregiver of an elderly person.

In addition to taking care of the senior, the caregiver often has tasks such as shopping, cooking (senior diet), cleaning, or ironing on his or her list of duties. Depending on individual needs, he may also be responsible for transporting the mentee to specific places and taking care of the house and garden. All these obligations must be clearly defined and accepted by both parties before cooperation.

Accurate setting of expectations and transparency in communication is the key to satisfying cooperation with the senior caregiver both for the family and for the senior himself.

Choosing a caregiver for a family member in a nutshell

A caregiver is not just an employee – he becomes an integral part of a senior’s life, being his companion, support, and friend. It is therefore extremely important that this function be taken up by a competent person who has the skills of caring for the elderly, who has the character traits that he should have, and which have already been mentioned above.

To choose the best senior caregiver, several criteria must be taken into account. From personal competencies, through experience, to the individual needs of the senior. It should be remembered that every elderly person is different and requires a specific approach. It is also worth consulting experts in the field of care for seniors and using references from other families who have already used the services of a given caregiver.

The most important, however, is the comfort of the mentee. It is this person who will spend the most time with the caregiver and knows best what care he needs. Therefore, before making a decision, it is worth conducting a trial meeting between the caregiver and the senior to make sure that both parties understand each other well and feel good in each other’s company. Such a conversation will also show us the character traits of the caregiver and it will be easier to verify whether he has those that we require.

You can look for a caregiver not only in the country of residence but also in others. Care job offers abroad are a common phenomenon. For example, Polish women very often look for a job as a caregiver for the elderly in Germany. In such a situation, conducting a familiarization conversation with a senior, before starting a hypothetical cooperation, is also possible. The modern world provides us with solutions that help to conduct such an online meeting without any problems. The only thing we need to meet a potential babysitter is a phone with Internet access. Then we can organize a short video call, thanks to which deciding on cooperation will become much easier.

If we are afraid to decide to employ a specific person ourselves, it is worth using help. Choosing a care agency that will help us find a caregiver that meets our expectations is a very responsible and right decision in a situation where we do not feel strong enough to do it ourselves. This action gives us confidence that people who know this industry inside out will help us find the person we are looking for.

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