Many aspects of caregiving, such as legal matters or housing, involve a cut-and-dried checklist. The daily life of a caregiver, though it requires supreme organization, has no such checklist. Caregivers must constantly adapt to their aging parent's needs while coping with the unexpected turns their own lives take. The numerous tasks of caregiving add up to a full-time job, on top of a career and regular family commitments.
Caregivers may be called upon to tackle diverse tasks, including:
- Preparing meals and feeding them to the aging adult
- Providing transportation to medical appointments, picking up prescriptions and administering medications
- Bathing and dressing the aging parent
- Assisting the aging person with getting on and off the toilet or changing diapers
- Managing finances and paying bills
These tasks are complicated by the many medical conditions that can befall the elderly, including adult-onset diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, glaucoma, cancer, depression, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, to name but a few. It will become increasingly difficult to care for a person who can't communicate his or her needs if they have impaired speech or hearing or memory loss, and watchful supervision will become even more critical in the case of impaired sight.
If you're feeling completely at a loss for how to complete some of these tasks, consider caregiver training provided by the Red Cross or another community group. In these classes, you'll learn specific skills for attending to the elderly, including how to transfer a frail adult from a bed to a wheelchair, how to bathe someone who can't get out of bed and how to help someone who's fallen.
Caregiver training also offers a way for people to make contact with other people in their situation. Having a support group can make all the difference in not losing your mind and your life to caregiving. Find out more about getting help on the next page.