The job of a caregiver is never easy or glamorous. Whether you’re a family member or professional caregiver, providing care for a senior comes with a complex set of responsibilities and challenges. We mentioned recently how caregivers can neglect their own lives and health when providing care for seniors. Providing the right emotional support to a senior citizen and their families is in itself emotionally demanding, and requires that the caregiver be physically and mentally healthy.
Despite the psychological and physiological demands, more people are becoming caregivers, as the career is very rewarding. Skilled caregivers, in particular nurses, are needed in greater numbers. Maryville University outline how the senior citizen population (65 years or older) grew from 35 million in 2000 to 50 million in 2016. The country needs more caregivers to meet the future needs of the growing senior citizen population. To provide the proper emotional support, caregivers and nurses must be skilled and understand how to make a senior, and their family, feel comfortable and happy. They must also provide social and emotional development through communication and visitations.
Therefore, effective caregivers should know how to interact with the seniors’ families and not only reassure them that their loved ones are in good hands, but also maintain effective communication. A study published by the Journal of Aging Studies found that staff-family interactions can lead to tension between caregivers and family members of seniors. This is often the result of demanding or angry family members who do not always know or understand the care provided to their family members. The study suggests, therefore, that creating positive staff-family interactions requires clear and frequent communication, and a meaningful connection with seniors’ families.
Effective caregivers and nurses encourage families to participate in the senior’s care planning, as well as providing regular reports to family members. The exchange of information will produce better outcomes for all three parties involved, and helps provide the emotional support needed by seniors and their families. In a study conducted at the University of Alberta in Canada, researchers noted that over 88% of caregivers were responsible for providing emotional support to their patients. Additionally, to support the wellbeing of their patient, caregivers provided transportation such as running errands and shopping, and attended medical appointments, among many other tasks.
Caregivers are instrumental to both the physical and emotional well-being of seniors and their families. Knowing they’re well taken care of also provides peace of mind for the family of the senior. By devoting their time and skills to support someone, caregivers are making a senior’s life more comfortable and at times just plain livable. Good caregivers are patient, possess empathy, radiate positivity and have a keen eye for the specific needs of the senior. According to a research paper commissioned by Loviisa City in Finland, the author defines the role of a caregiver as someone that provides emotional support and comfort, and makes the life of the person they are taking care of easier.
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