Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding and satisfying, but this does not mean that it’s an easy job. There are indeed certain caregiver skills to keep seniors happy and safe in their homes that you need to possess and master.
There are a variety of skills you need in order to be an effective caregiver to seniors, skills that will keep everybody happy even when life isn’t looking its best.
One skill a caregiver needs to have is physical strength. Whether you want to call this a skill or attribute, it is something you will need. Caregivers have to carry groceries, do vacuuming, sometimes move furniture around, and yes, sometimes you might even have to carry the seniors from one spot to another, or at least to help them walk by supporting their weight. It takes a good deal of physical strength and stamina to help seniors get through their day.
One of the most important attributes a caregiver needs is compassion. More often than not, seniors that need taking care of live in pretty rough situations. Seniors are most likely ill to some degree, they may be suffering from memory loss, their friends and families have passed away, and they feel lonely.
Caregivers need to be able to connect with the seniors they are tasked with caring for, to understand their pain and their needs, and most important of all, sympathy and empathy, the will to actually help make their lives better and more comfortable. If you aren’t an empathetic caregiver, most likely you won’t do the best job possible, and of course, that’s not right.
Another needed skill is observation. This is because often, seniors are not willing to share their secrets, divulge that they are in pain, and they don’t like to admit that things are getting worse, that they have problems that they can no longer deal with themselves; they may never tell you if something is wrong or bothering them, simply because they are too proud or stubborn to ask for help. Some seniors may even go out of their way to hide issues, serious ones that do need attention. Therefore, you need to be able to observe the seniors, and the way they act. Often, it is up to you, the caregiver, to find out what is wrong, and then to find an adequate solution, or at the very least, get help.
In addition, you will need to be observant for any changes in your senior’s condition, whether it is mental or physical, to be able to notice any deterioration or improvement in their condition. Often it comes down to a medical situation, and maybe even being observant for reactions to medications, or improvements or none due to a new medication.
Seniors won’t always try and hide serious matters or problems, and just as often, they will tell you what is wrong. It is up to the caregiver to really listen to them in depth, and to come up with solutions and fixes to any problems that may arise. There is more to it than this, because sometimes these people are just lonely and need someone to talk with, to tell a story to, or to share their day with.
Although you don’t have the time to spend hours chatting away, a bit of pleasant conversation will go a long way in making a senior happy. There is also the fact that you do need to be straightforward with seniors, or in other words, if you see something is wrong or you think something needs to be done, you need to be able to tell them, even if it may be uncomfortable, and the same goes for communication issues with family members too.
Another important skill that you need to possess as a caregiver is patience. It can be difficult to deal with seniors at times. Some of them have physical disabilities that slow them down, some have mental disabilities, and some have both. At the very least, some may be grumpy and have rude or unpleasant demeanors.
It is up to the caregiver to be patient, to be understanding, and to take the time to really understand what is going on. Some clients can be irrational, critical, and unreasonable, but this is just something you will need to learn to deal with, and if you don’t have the patience for this kind of thing, it will only make it worse.
Something you may have never thought of, in terms of caregiver skills, is cleanliness. Often, you may be tasked with cleaning the homes of these seniors. This could mean doing the dishes, mopping floors, doing laundry, and yes, cleaning toilets.
You as the caregiver are the only one who is doing these tasks, you need to do them right, and you need to ensure that the homes of these people are clean. Some seniors may have immune systems that are not functioning properly anymore, and this makes cleaning and ensuring that there are a limited amount of germs and bacteria around all that much more important.
Yet another important skill for a caregiver to seniors to possess is organization. For one, you may have a number of patients to deal with on any given day, which means that being organized is key. You need to have patient files on hand, and you need to know the layout of their homes. You need to be organized and knowledgeable of an individual patient’s needs.
Everything has its place in a home, and you need to know it. On that same note, you need to have good time management skills. There is a fine balance here, because you cannot rush through the job at hand, but you also cannot take forever. There is more than one senior relying on you for care.
When all is said and done, these are the seven most important skills that any caregiver needs to have to keep seniors healthy and happy in their homes. Without these skills, a caregiver cannot perform their job to satisfy the needs of their patients.