Being a caregiver

What is caregiving?

In its broadest sense, caregiving is an act that helps to deliver care to an individual or group that would not necessarily be able to undertake certain actions themselves. This usually means daily activities in most cases, such as getting up and dressed, doing the laundry and taking care of personal hygiene. In a hospital setting, these sorts of caregiving jobs are generally assigned to nursing staff and orderlies. However, a caregiver tends to be the term that is used in wider society for much the same activity. As such, a caregiver usually performs some form of social work role in the community. Some operate on a live-in basis while others visit. In many situations, caregiving is carried out by a family member, usually to look after a child, a geriatric person or to help someone who has a chronic condition that prevents them from looking after themselves adequately.

 How do you go about caregiving?

 One of the key aspects of being a caregiver is to work out how to interact with the person you are administering care to. Communications skills are, therefore, a high priority, especially when the person receiving care may not be able to communicate verbally, maybe because of trauma or due to a condition they are suffering from. Once boundaries with physical contact have been established, you can then proceed to administer care, ensuring that hygiene is maintained at all times so that both the caregiver and the recipient do not suffer from any communicable diseases. Caregivers will typically wash, dress, administer drugs, assist with eating and drinking and help to improve the quality of life of those in their care, sometimes by chatting or playing games.

Why is caregiving rewarding?

Because it is so often an intimate activity, caregiving means you need a good deal of empathy for the person receiving care. Bonds can grow between the caregiver and the people they look after, which means that helping them can prove to be extremely rewarding. Although caregiving is often not paid or, when it is, remains a low-paid job in many parts of the world, lots of people who do it say that it is a vocation they feel drawn to and miss it when they no longer take part in caregiving activities.

When is caregiving too much?

Because it is intense, caregiving can have an accumulative effect, especially when it is relentlessly carried out every day. Respite breaks are a must for all long-term carers and caregivers, especially when they have an additional emotional aspect to consider when looking after a loved-one or a family member. This can be the case when caregivers never escape their role, usually because they live under the same roof of the person they are looking after.

Can you make a career out of becoming a caregiver?

Although caregiving is often considered to be a rewarding role, it is not always well paid. That said, as the population ages, so more and more demand for professional caregivers is likely, especially those with relevant qualifications. Indeed, some people do have successful careers as caregivers and are often rewarded by some tender moments in the course of their careers.

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