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.
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.
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?”
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.