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Being a caregiver

Is caregiving a rewarding career?
Yes, I have a creative personality and passion to find solutions. Working for others did not provide that freedom, which was a trade-off for security. Eight years ago I started my own business helping seniors to downsize their home, pack and unpack for relocation, and organize the home for ease of movement. This process is more than just packing and unpacking. Now the family can learn how to properly do these tasks for themselves by hiring me for coaching sessions over the telephone.

As time went on, I created friendships with other senior care providers. It became clear that there was a gap with respect to information, resources and the caregiver. Unfortunately, aging is not a pleasant thought and people wait for the last minute to think about it.


There are two types of caregivers.
There are both family and professional caregivers.

What does it mean to be a family caregiver?
Family caregivers are on call 24/7 should a loved one\’s health and care change. Today a loved one may be independent but a fall tonight could mean hospitalization. Next may be a need for rehabilitation and care when they return home. That is if they return home.

Describe a day in the life of a family caregiver.
From rising in the morning, responsibilities start with making sure a loved one takes meals and medications; is bathed and dressed; cooking, cleaning, shopping and providing transportation. Don\’t forget the importance of social interaction with the loved one.

What kinds of people are most in need of caregiver services?
Caregiver services should be available to someone who has physical, mental or age related challenges.

What do these people need the most?
Support and services in a clean, caring and affordable environment.

What kinds of advice do you give to a Boomer who is considering getting a caregiver for his or her parent?
Plan ahead by asking friends for referral services they have used. Keep a record of this for future reference. Doctors and organizations provide referrals, but that does not mean they have ever used them or know someone who has.

If a professional caregiver is required, interview their company as closely as they will interview you.

  • Is the company and staff bonded?
  • Will one person be the primary caregiver?
  • Does the personality of your loved one work with the personality of the caregiver?
  • What is the pricing?
  • Perform company background checks.

If my parent requires daily aid supplies and equipment, where do I find them?
The first step is to explore Internet healthcare product websites. You will be overwhelmed with all the products available to you. There are daily aids for vision, hearing, mobility, bed, bathroom for special physical challenges. Explore special kitchen, hobby, and outdoor aids if your parent is living with arthritis.

How do I purchase these items?
Ask your local medical supply store if they carry it. Remember that if they special order a product, they will charge you more than buying it yourself. When you ask an Internet Shopper, they will take the information you provide them, shop for a variety of items fitting your needs and make price comparisons. An Internet shopper looks for items that are on sale. The final decision is yours about who will purchase these items.

What are some of the disadvantages of being a caregiver?
Burnout is a big concern if there is no personal respite time allowed. Sometimes a spouse feels guilty about taking time away from the ailing spouse. What happens is that the healthy spouse might die first.

Aging is a process.
Preparing for reality of aging is as important as preparing for retirement.

Family and professional caregivers must work as a team.
A perfect scenario of how to be a great caregiver includes planning ahead for any contingency, which includes a list of products, services and resources within reach. However, this is not reality since most caregivers wait until a crisis to think about these things. There are unknowns, such as being independent until illness places them into a nursing home. Years ago there wasn\’t any in-between stage. Now we have options such as Assisted Living and Continuing Care Facilities.

Important acknowledgement
This interview first appeared in NowWhatJobs.net, the resource for job transitions after age 40.

Phyllis Slater, owner of Slater Solutions LLC, has devoted eight years to providing concierge services to the working caregiver and aging parent. She provides Internet research and shopping for healthcare products for the working caregiver. She has been interviewed in on-line radio shows, along with providing monthly articles to senior care websites, member of the National Association of Baby Boomer Women, Waterford Senior Network and Michigan Women\’s Marketplace. (248) 681-9872 www.eldercareconcierge.net

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