When elderly adults need periodic help at home or have moved to an assisted living facility, one thing that should not be overlooked is the quality of the caregivers who will be watching out for them.
As the long-time owner of Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, I know the difference a quality caregiver can make in a senior’s life. Caregivers are crucial to the well-being and mental health of those they care for.
So, today I’m starting a 3-part series on caregivers. In part 1, I’ll talk about the most important traits you should look for in these people who will be caring for your elderly loved ones or friends.
Here are 6 of the characteristics that I look for in the caregivers at Country Home:
1. Dependability. If your parent or elderly loved one needs help, you want the caregivers to be readily available when that help is needed. They need to arrive on time, not bring their own personal issues with them and be ready to jump into action when necessary. They should also be able use sound judgment when providing the type of care that is required in any given situation.
2. Attentiveness and ability to look at the big picture. Families rely on caregivers to be attentive to their loved one’s needs. By paying attention, caregivers will notice when the person they are caring for is undergoing physical or emotional changes.
And that’s why they also need to be able to look at the big picture. There are many factors that can be involved as seniors age – from medications and their interactions, to emotional and cognitive issues, to dietary needs and more. Good caregivers will take all of this into consideration when caring for their clients. They also should feel comfortable in taking the initiative and responding quickly when needed.
3. Good communication skills. A quality caregiver is a good listener and a good communicator with elderly individuals and their families. After carefully listening to the senior’s complaints or needs, good caregivers can then help take care of the issues at hand. They also should be able to share important information with family members in a clear and concise way.
With good communications skills, caregivers can develop a wonderful relationship with their clients and their families. It’s worth the effort. The seniors and their families will be happier, and many misunderstandings and possible health and safety issues will be avoided.
4. Empathy and patience. A little empathy and understanding of what senior clients may be going through will go a long way in helping seniors accept the care that is being provided and to build a solid relationship. With a healthy relationship, the elderly can feel comfortable sharing their honest feelings, which provides for even better care.
Those who care for the elderly also need to be patient, especially with clients who may have a hard time explaining things or who are resisting the care provided. I find that my best caregivers treat our residents at Country Home Assisted Living like members of their family or good friends.
5. Show enthusiasm and love for what they do. Quality caregivers love what they do. They take the time to listen, share stories, laugh, smile and hug the elderly people they care for. This is especially helpful for those who are adjusting to needing extra assistance and loss of some personal freedoms.
A caregiver’s enthusiasm can even help seniors deal with issues such as isolation and boredom. They can remind their patients or residents that they are still amazing and have a lot left to give. They can get them to exercise class, talk about their life and do things they have always loved to do.
6. Trustworthiness. Because caregivers often have access to a person’s belongings or money, this is an especially important characteristic to look for, especially since there are horror stories of caregivers taking advantage of the elderly. Look for someone who will not take advantage of the person he/she is caring for.
Next month we’ll look at caregivers who specifically provide care for people who want to remain in their homes rather than being cared for at retirement homes or assisted living facilities, such as Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, CO.