Yes, these days, the term caregiver is being batted around the world. COVID-19 has increased the visibility of caregivers and the need for extended health care.
No matter where you live, the world is aging, even in the small tropical paradise where I live. There are now millions of people over 65 among us, and they are living longer, with more of them to come. But how to care for them once they can no longer manage on their own?
Don't count on the government, that's for sure. In Malaysia, we are behind most of the world, let alone Asia. The responsibility for most care is not going to be the government.
A caregiver is a trained professional who specifically takes care of older adults, most often in the person’s home or the family's home. So, let's look at when you might need a caregiver and what they can offer.
When Might You Need a Caregiver?
There are several situations when you might be in-home extended health care. They include:
● On an as-needed basis, for short periods of time. The care is intended to help maintain an individual’s independence if an existing caregiver is on leave or need help with a medical appointment, or perhaps a senior's children need to travel or are away from home. There are many reasons as you can imagine.
● For extended time periods, such as a few hours a day each week, or for a few weeks or more, or for care requiring help with daily activities.
● For around-the-clock care for seniors who are not mobile or have chronic illnesses.
What Can Home Caregivers Offer?
As we get older, we often need help with daily activities. People require extended care for many peoples due to health changes, mobility problems, memory issues, or just "slowing down" due to aging. The objective is to maintain independence for the senior in his or her own home environment. Being in familiar surroundings is critical for elderly happiness.
If you have caregivers, perhaps family members, they will need a break at some point. This is called "respite care." Caregiving is hard work and often emotional work. Giving a caregiver a break is a great way to let them "recharge" while bringing in someone for a day or two (or longer) to help out. Respite care could allow the primary caregiver to address personal issues, visit friends or family, or have a holiday.
Getting in-home can be helpful when a spouse dies as it can be a tough time for the senior and their family. The surviving spouse now finds themselves alone. Without the support of their spouse, they could need full or part-time help. They could just feel lonely and need companionship services. Often it is a combination of both. The adult children are not usually prepared to address this situation, and home caregivers can help.
Recovering from Illness or Surgery or Ongoing Chronic Care
If you or a loved one is recovering from an illness at home, it's an excellent time to bring in a caregiver to help someone until they can manage independently. This helps to maintain their sense of independence, and it helps get them through a crucial post-illness time period.
If someone is facing a chronic or long-term illness, caregivers are particularly important. Besides handling daily activities, a caregiver can help manage an illness's impacts, such as side effects, medication compliance, assistance with bathing, using the toilet, and other activities that pose unique challenges for patients. A caregiver for a chronic patient can help ease their mind and ensure they are comfortable at home.
End of Life
When a person is nearing the end of their life or in the advanced terminal illness stage, it is emotional for them and their families. Those in this situation need care in four areas—physical comfort, mental and emotional needs, and spiritual issues.
A home caregiver can help out nurses and other medical professionals who may be helping the patient at home. Whether it is help with things like running errands, ensuring the individual is never alone, and helping the family with everyday needs that they may be incapable of handling at the moment.
Family Should Discuss Options
Bringing a caregiver into your home--and indeed a stranger--is not an easy decision. It is hard on the care recipient and hard on their family.
The decision to bring in in-home care requires discussion with the care recipient and their family.
Vet caregivers carefully. Just because someone is a friend, don't assume they know about caregiving or your family situation. In fact, talk to a professional caregiving organization--several of them exist today--and learn more.
About the Author
Andrew Mastrandonas, Co-founder & CEO of Pillar (www.pillarcare.com), Asia’s leading home care company. He is also Director of JPE Group, Asia's Most Comprehensive Care, Recovery & Senior Living Solutions organization. For more information please visit www.jpecare.com. This article was reviewed by Dr Lim Geng Yan (M.D).
Contributor since June 16th, 2019
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