Caregiving

11 Most Common Caregiver Duties

As a caregiver, you wear a LOT of hats. Nurse, chef, house cleaner, driver, advocate…just to name a few. We asked our community about the tasks and activities they regularly perform to help care for their family member or friend. They provided some amazing insights into what the life of a caregiver really looks like.

Here are the 11 most common caregiver duties and responsibilities that our caregiving community reported:

1. Handling Doctor’s Appointments

Caregivers are no stranger to regular trips to the doctor. Scheduling and confirming doctor’s appointments are one of the most common undertakings. Depending on the state of the patient, caretakers may need to attend the appointments as well to act as an advocate for their loved one and ensure they’re adhering to the current medical needs.

2. At-Home Care

When your loved one isn’t in the hospital, caregivers take over doctor duty. Medication management is a very common task; patients may require multiple types of medication that need to be taken at specific times each day. Caregivers often need to control the medication administration as well as picking up prescriptions. Many patients will also need toilet assistance and help getting dressed and with bathing.

3. House-Cleaning/Maintenance

Keeping your loved one’s home in good shape is an important part of caregiving. This involves basic day-to-day tasks like washing dishes, laundry, watering plants and dusting, as well as more intensive work like lawn care or hiring someone to fix the furnace if it breaks down.

4. Transportation

Add chauffeur to the list of duties. Driving is one of the most common activities reported, whether it be heading to doctor’s appointments, social interactions, family events, church…the list goes on.

Tip: You can request carpool help with a CaringBridge site. You can link your site with your favorite tools, like a personal fundraiser or calendar, so you’ll always have a place to send people when they ask, “How can I help?”

5. Cooking/Feeding

Providing meals is a regular duty for at-home caregivers. This involves buying groceries, cooking, meal-prepping and potentially helping to feed your loved one if they are not able to feed themselves. It’s important to provide your loved one with nutritious meals that follow any dietary guidelines their doctor has provided. Try to serve healthy proteins like chicken and fish alongside an array of colorful fruits and vegetables. Your loved one’s water intake is just as important – make sure they’re getting enough fluids as dehydration can lead to more issues.

Tip: These easy, nutritious meals take less than 20 minutes to prepare, and are sure to satisfy everyone at the table.

6. Pet Care

Caregiving isn’t just for humans. A furry friend may also be part of the equation. If this is the case, make sure you’re stocked up on pet food, have annual vet appointments scheduled and a few pet sitters lined up in case of a last-minute hospital visit or a trip out of town.

7. Helping with Exercise

Getting proper physical activity may be an important part of your loved one’s care plan. Caregivers should make sure to add low-intensity workouts to the regular routine. This also could be a good opportunity to bond with your loved one as you both get your sweat on together.

Tip: These at-home exercises are low-impact and are a great way to keep patients in shape (and avoid having to drive to the gym).

8. Organizing the Calendar

Coordinating your loved one’s schedule is an important part of caregiving. You want to make sure they’re getting to their appointments while also trying to fit in family and social events. Sometimes, the person in need of care is still in school, or requires assistance getting to work. So it’s important to track exactly when and where they need to be somewhere.

9. Running Errands

Even when your loved one is sick, little day-to-day errands still need to be completed. This includes clothes shopping, runs to the post office, getting oil changes and more. To get a realistic idea of what your loved one might need, try keeping track of all the errands you run in a month.

Tip: Many online stores like Target and Amazon offer free and fast home delivery. For miscellaneous household items like toilet paper, laundry detergent and cat food, this can be the difference between an hour at the store, or simply answering the door.

10. Financial Assistance

Add banker to the list of hats. Caregivers frequently help out with paying bills, managing funds, helping with taxes and more. This assistance may also extend to helping out financially from their own pockets, a duty that for many is a significant burden.

11. Accepting Help

Ironically, caregivers often reveal that accepting help is one of the most challenging aspects of the experience. When you’re used to doing it all, it can become your default setting. But family and friends are willing and able to help, so let them! After all, you want to provide the best care for your loved one, and we all operate at our best when we’re supported. Giving up control can be challenging, but it doesn’t mean you’re incapable. In fact, accepting help shows your strength. So next time someone offers to take over carpool duty or help out around the house, just try saying, “yes!” It will get easier.

Caregivers, We Want to Hear from You!

These ideas came from our community of caregivers, but we always want more feedback! What other caregiving responsibilities are part of your regular routine? If you have any ideas, please share in the comments section below.

Comments (15)

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Deborah Bohan Jun 17, 2019 11:01pm
In my case, it is spending hours researching, reading and studying about my husband’s complicated disease so that I can be an informed advocate during doctor’s visits and treatments. This also includes collecting and organizing medical records, taking notes at doctor visits, keeping medications straight, asking questions and speaking up when my husband can’t.
Melody N. May 22, 2019 1:40am
I'm ready for some help. Doctors appointments mainly. I think I have the rest covered. (Maybe)
Pat May 10, 2019 10:12am
I’ve been 24/7 caregiver to my husband who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009. He’s been bedridden since 2017 after suffering cardiac arrest and respiratory arrest in our home due to a blood clot. The travel went through his filter and lodged in his lung. He was incubated and we were in the hospital 27 days. He’s cared for in our home with dignity , respect, compassion, kindness, patience and love.
Jeanne Jensen Apr 28, 2019 1:23pm
I need some information about anyway to re-cope costs of care-giving and not being able to meet my own needs!
Shirley McCann Apr 28, 2019 12:12pm
All of the caregiving tasks mentioned become exhausting and frustration can suddenly make easy tasks harder. My husband has dementia-like symptoms (memory, difficulty finding words, etc.) from viral encephalitis. We are in the 8th year of this and it doesn't get easier. I have no help and go from coping well to wanting to run away. I need a break, but do not see any options for that. My escape is gardening, painting and other hobbies that can be stopped and re-started as necessary. Sixteen years of marriage and 8 years of caregiving is not what either of us expected. I have to remind myself that he is challenged daily by what he can no longer do. It helps, a little.
Judy Mccoy Apr 20, 2019 3:58pm
Plus, working a 40 hour week outside of the home.
Debbie Lee Apr 16, 2019 1:22pm
I miss caregiving for my husband. He lost his battle at the at of 52 with an eight year fight with mulitple myeloma. It was trying at times but miss him so much.....
Linda Greenhow Apr 12, 2019 9:08am
I am now a caregiver for my ex husband. He’s been diagnosed with severe COPD and dimensia. His children all live out of state si it’s just me. I also have some bad health issues.. I never realized how hard it could be. My mom had dimensia and Alzheimer’s and it is horrible. Now I am dealing with it again. Some days I feel like crawling n a hole. You never know from hour to hour what will set him off over simple things. One day recently, I got a phone call from home owners insurance company wanting to update the insurance. They asked if we wanted to come in or just mail the paperwork, I told them to mail it as he had just came out of the hospital with pneumonia. They did. I showed it to him but he didn’t read it that day. So a few weeks later I brought it to his attention again. The first page of the letter said Linda, here is the paperwork we spoke about, please look it over and get back to us. Second page had his name first mine second showing what they recommended. All he seen was my name on the first page and that’s all it took. went into a rage. He said I was trying to take over everything and I didn’t show him that letter. He went into a rage. It took me two days to try and make him understand that all they wanted was theletter was is to inform us of changes. . I now have to do everything, . It’s constantly calling me for something to ear or a cup of coffe or a snack, along with cleaning, cooking, laundry, Dr appointment, errands and so on. I try very hard o do all I can. Like I said I have terrible heart and kidney problems. I wish I could somehow make it better, but there’s no cure.
Susan March Apr 01, 2019 12:58am
I left my home of 30 years and moved back to the family home to help my Mom. My life changed drastically. I, Susan, the adult is back to being treated like a child. As in you can't go out because it's dark outside. Almost everything I do is centered around my Mom. My 2 siblings call daily and they get to go back to their daily lives. I'm living in the house and because of my Mom's needs, I don't get out much. An hour or 2 here or there. There's no room for most of my stuff. My Mom has lots of stuff all over except for my bedroom. Right now I have stuff on the dining room table and sometimes the kitchen table. I don't know where to put papers etc...because now I deal with household papers in addition to my own. Yes, I am resentful of my sister and brother and their financial situations. I'm disabled and Social Security is what I get and I'm very grateful. I've been unable to work for close to 30 years and that's sad. I have multiple chronic conditions and it affects how I take care of my Mom. I stay up very late because after my Mom goes to sleep I have time for myself. I read, work on the computer, do jigsaw puzzles. I'm also the chef and server. Another side of the picture is how my Mom took care of my Gramps and my Dad. She was heroic. She went 3 times a day to the nursing home to be with my Gramps for his meals. My Mom became the family leader in many respects. The care she gave my Dad was remarkable. So, if I can do a tiny piece of what my Mom did for my Gramps and Dad, I will feel satisfied.
Joyce Knolhoff Mar 28, 2019 7:50pm
I know how overwhelming it is to suddenly become thrown into a health crisis and how it interrupts every aspect of your life. My home caregivers helping me with Nursing, Occupational and Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy also help my husband be an awesome co-pilot of my care plan. My family and friends are a top flight crew. My medical team has an flight plan carefully guided by the pilot. Can you tell we plan to travel again? I ❤️all caregivers and thank caring bridge for all the helps on this site!
Diane Mar 25, 2019 4:36am
Thanks very helpful article
Renee whaley Mar 24, 2019 9:12am
drugs.org is a great website for seeing if their medications are conflicting with one another, doctors are busy and these things get overlooked at times so be their advocate as well as their caregiver. it could save their life.
Renee whaley Mar 24, 2019 9:09am
keeping them socialy active by getting them out of the house. let them help you create something like arrainge flowers or play music to them or with them. Make sure they can care for their grooming, always ask or assist if your able , and all positive to them, driving them to visit family members drink a lot of water I cannot stress this enough, over 80 years old and the requirements for water consumption increase due to the inability for the body to fight certain things their immune system used to , the body is more fragile and the vital organs is what becomes the first things , kidneys, expecialy the boys water or lack of those organs will be target when the body starts to consume itself, .
Renee Mar 24, 2019 9:02am
I so appreciate this because I cannot express enough how caregivers paid or not sacrifice their energy and care to another human being. I care for my mom with dementia due to Alztiemers . It is challenging and I live with her still at the age of 51. If your a family member like me on a daily basis, it is hard for anyone else to understand the time and patience it realy takes and the toll it leaves the caregiver. This is a cut and dry reality for onlookers to try and understand that they need help if if they don't ask , and if they do, please ask how you can help them. remember one day you might need someone helping you. it takes a village.
Joey Mar 20, 2019 6:53pm
Finding entertainment, reassuring them they are doing amazing, yard work...including disposing of fallen tree branches, shoveling snow, cleaning decks, refurbishing and watering plants, phone calls to get solicitors off their back, putting up with friends family who put even more stress in the mix. Giving up all that matters to you so others can take a free pass.