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November Is Caregiver Month

What is a caregiver?

Caregivers help people do the things they can no longer do for themselves.  This loss of function may be due to accidents, illness, or just the aging process.  Caregivers work 24 hours seven days a week and all hours in between. Many caregivers assist the elderly as they are experiencing physical and mental limitations. 

Many times younger people need caregivers too.  Caregivers don’t possess any specific credentials; they just step in and help when they are needed.  Caregivers may not always possess the appropriate caregiving skills, but they learn during the process of caregiving for a loved one.  Caregivers may be a family member, or someone whom you hire through a non-medical homecare agency.  

My own personal experience with needing a caregiver

Recently, due to an accident I ended up with a fractured clavicle of my right shoulder which happens to be my dominant side.   In an instant I became helpless and required help.  I was rendered unable to perform any personal care, preparing food, opening my medications, driving to appointments and just doing all the normal activities of daily living.  My initial reaction was to cry because of the helplessness I felt.  I realized all the normal activities or routines of my life had been put on hold.  I could not perform any of the routine care activities without the assistance of another person.

How it feels to be dependent on a caregiver.

One of the things I immediately became aware of was the fact that my private life had now become public. I now needed a caregiver to assist me in my home; a stranger whom I didn’t know would be coming to my home every day to help me with my routine daily care activities.  This person would see me without my face being washed or teeth brushed and would have to help me with everything including my shower and dressing.  I was experiencing mental anguish and turmoil, because of my loss. I felt anxiety and many fears about having a stranger come to my home.  Once I went through the process of grieving my losses and was able to think rationally about the help I needed, I was able to start the process of planning.  I considered whom should I call, how much will this cost, and what will I all need. Fortunately it is possible to find a trustworthy and reliable caregiver by calling a non-medical homecare agency.

Characteristics of a compassionate caregiver

image-discharge-transitionSome of my clients have offered video testimonials on their caregiver experiences. Now I feel the same gratitude, appreciation and love for my caregivers. Caregivers come in all shapes and sizes, color, credentials, and experience. What I have experienced is their patient and respectful attitude.   When they have come to my home it has been about my care needs and doing it the way I like things to be done.

I have a daily routine and they have respected that daily routine. If I like my eggs done over easy they do my eggs over easy, and if my shower is after breakfast they have complied with that without hesitation.  They have been sensitive about my pain and fatigue, and have let me rest as my body dictated.  They have found other things to do so they have been self-directed but always told me what they were going to do before starting the task.  When I didn’t feel like talking or being engaged in conversation they didn’t take it personal. They understood that I was experiencing pain and just needed to take a rest. And they left me alone to rest.  So from my experience an excellent caregiver is one who blends in just like a family member. They ask questions, offer advice, but in the end respect the clients need.  They empathize but are clearly there just to assist the client with whatever their needs are that day.

How do I locate a caregiver?

AA Care Services is a nonmedical homecare agency. AA Care Services is licensed insured and bonded. The hourly rate for care is very reasonable and minimum hours usually required are four hours per day, or four hours 2 to 3 times per week. A simple phone call to the agency will get the process started. The agency Referral Coordinator will ask some basic questions about the care needs and schedule an appointment to come to the home, meet with the client and the family, at their convenience.  The nurse will assess clients care needs, home safety, and housekeeping needs.

A care plan will be developed with the client and family including the hours per day. The client can also meet and interview the caregiver before the services begin.  If indicated the nurse will also come on the day the services begin with the caregiver to ensure that everyone is clear on the Care needs of the client. After a day or two of receiving services from the caregiver, the client will be grateful that they are receiving assistance in their home. Many times the client will comment I wish I would’ve known about the services a long time ago.   Do not hesitate to call on a professional agency. If you know someone who is struggling at home and requires the assistance of a caregiver please call AA Care services for a free in-home assessment by a nurse.

And, this month, please thank all caregivers for their compassion and care for the elderly, sick and injured adults.

Helen Trowsdale, President of AA Care Services, is a nurse administrator with over 30 years of experience as a BSN, psychiatric nurse, and geriatric care manager with adults as well as pediatrics in hospitals, private duty home health care agencies, and residential home health care. Her team of caregivers are dedicated to serving their clients with home care in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Austin; providing clients with consistent, quality care while minimizing the number of caregivers in the home. Learn more about AA Care Services.

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