Caretakers care for a physically or mentally ill family member on an ongoing or respite basis. While some family members may find a care-taking job rewarding, others find the duties and responsibilities emotionally and physically draining. The key to caretaking is getting support, staying organized and taking consistent breaks.
Give Physical Care
Caregivers help an emotionally or physically challenged adult or child eat, bathe, dress, use the restroom and perform any kind of activity that otherwise would be difficult or impossible without help. Family caregivers prepare balanced meals that are visually appealing and tasteful, and help position the patient to facilitate eating. A caregiver also helps the patient with grooming and taking a shower or bath, taking the patient for walks, helping lift her legs so she can get into the car and positioning the patient so she is comfortable while sitting or laying down.
Caretake with Respect
Communication between patient and caregiver should be fluid. Caregivers should ask plenty of questions about pain and emotions the patient may be feeling, in addition to offering privacy and figuring out what changes could help the patient. This validates feelings and provides mutual respect. In addition, family members should think of ways to stimulate the patient's mind with reading materials, television or Internet usage, and appropriate games or puzzles.
Create a Schedule
Repetition of tasks at the same time every day establishes a schedule that makes the patient comfortable. When caretaker and patient know what to expect, emotional struggles and complaints are kept to a minimum. Adhering to a schedule also allows the caregiver to plan his own personal schedule and be better able to manage unexpected situations.
Driving and Errands
Whether dropping off prescriptions, picking up medication, taking the patient to the doctor and physical therapy or shopping for in-home medical equipment, the family caregiver is responsible for errands and getting the patient where he needs to be. So that the patient maintains some independence and control, the caregiver should always comply to reasonable requests, such as obtaining stamps to mail cards, purchasing a favorite food or buying comfortable clothing the patient would like.
Keep Patient Organized
Finances, medical transcripts, medications and doctor's appointments all need to be arranged and handled by the caretaker. Lists of contacts and phone numbers should be kept in one place, in addition to the person's will or healthcare wishes, insurance information and any healthcare proxy documents that may be needed.