Caregivers can be spouses, partners, adult children, parents, other relatives, friends, or neighbors. As we live longer and the 65+ population is set to double, the likelihood greatly increases that we’ll become engaged in caring for an elderly loved one. Already 40 million people in the U.S. are serving as unpaid caregivers for an aging parent or grandparent.
Hospice caregiver support is an essential part of caregiving because 80% of all caregiving is provided by relatives and friends who have little or no experience. However, lack of experience doesn’t mean a lack of good, quality care! Caregiving is a selfless and generous thing to do. It can be rewarding – and it can be exhausting.
Caring for a loved one with a serious illness is one of the most important roles you’ll play. Below are some of the duties you can expect as a hospice caregiver, plus a hospice caregiver guide with tips for caring for yourself as you care for your loved one.
Your hospice caregiver duties include many responsibilities, from buying groceries and cooking meals, to arranging medical appointments and handling finances, to providing hands-on care such as bathing and changing bed linens.
These countless skills, combined with the love and commitment of family and friends, can produce the very best results for the comfort of your loved one. Continue reading our hospice caregiver guide below for more information about the physical duties you’ll perform as a caregiver.
Good mouth care is always important and becomes even more crucial when we are seriously ill. Keeping your loved one’s mouth clean may help prevent aspiration pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia is when food, saliva, or any foreign substance is inhaled into the lungs.
Cleaning your loved one’s mouth is important for comfort also. Some medicines and diseases leave the mouth dry and/or sore. Routine care will help to prevent infection and irritation.
As your loved one weakens, they will spend more time in bed and it will become necessary to change the linens while he or she remains in bed. Attempts should be made to keep the sheets fresh and free from creases and moisture.
The thought of making a bed, with your loved one in it, can be overwhelming. Utilizing the hospital bed will make this task easier. Plus, your hospice nurse will take the time to provide hospice caregiver support. He or she will show you how to do this important task.
A bed bath is given to your loved one while he or she is in bed. Bathing is a crucial part of caregiving because it refreshes the body and the spirit. It also provides comfort. This is an essential hospice caregiver duty.
Bathing is a very personal function. You want to give your loved one as much privacy and dignity as possible by shutting the door or the shades, and keeping all of the body covered except for the section you are washing. The best time to give a bed bath is when your loved one wants to, and about an hour after he or she has taken pain medication.
When your loved one is confined to a bed, re-positioning them is essential. If your loved one stays in bed for a long period of time the skin may get irritated and abrasions or pressure sores may form.
You should make sure the skin remains clean and dry, exam the skin daily, and make sure the bed linens remain dry and free of wrinkles. Remember, skin is one of the biggest organs on the body and it has numerous purposes so it needs to be taken care of. Your hospice nurse will take the time to provide caregiver guidance about skin care.
Hospice caregiver stress is the emotional and physical strain from caregiving for your loved one. As a hospice caregiver you are providing support and help almost all day. This leaves little time for work, other family members or friends.
As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don’t realize your own health and well-being are suffering. Use this guide to identify signs of hospice caregiver stress:
If you are you experiencing any of the above symptoms, we recommend seeking hospice caregiver support. Too much stress, especially over a long period of time, can harm your health. As a caregiver, you’re more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. In addition, you may not get enough sleep or physical activity, or eat a balanced diet — which increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
To Do List for Caregivers
Thou shalt not be perfect or even try to be.
Thou shalt not try to be all things to all people.
Thou shalt sometimes leave things undone.
Thou shalt not spread thyself too thin.
Thou shalt learn to say “NO”.
Thou shalt schedule time for thyself and thy support network.
Thou shalt switch thyself off and do nothing.
Thou shalt not even feel guilty for doing nothing or saying “NO”.
Thou shalt be boring, untidy, inelegant and unattractive at times.
Especially, thou shalt not be thine own worst enemy, but be thine own best friend.
It’s important to maintain your health and well-being when you’re caregiving for someone. Too much stress, especially over a long time, can harm your health. Here are some tips to managing stress and maintaining your health:
For more information on hospice caregiver duties, please contact Samaritan at (800) 229-8183 or fill out this online form.