Top Caregiver Duties
Elderly caregiver duties vary, depending on needs.
So what comes to mind when you think of elder caregivers?
care? Elderly long-term care in assisted living facilities?
home, or memory care facility?
Caregiving is one of the growing elderly issues, and all
of these scenarios are common today. The elderly caregiver, therefore,
certainly could be you. Or partially you. In my case, it was first
partially me and then fully me. And that made a huge difference.
It is very possible that at some point you will need part-time
or full-time caregiving from the outside, such as elderly home care,
either for yourself or a loved one. So it's important to understand a
good elderly caregiver description.
I definitely needed to know this for
myself, and also in the event that I would need additional help in
caring for my dad. But what could I expect regarding duties a caregiver
Clarification of your needs vs. elderly caregiver duties that are
available is crucial before proceeding with obtaining senior care,
either from an outside senior service, or in an elderly long-term care
This is especially true if progressing elderly problems or
illnesses are involved, particularly dementia (see our dementia overview). Our family had to really assess the needs of our Dad before we made decisions as to what I could and could not handle.
The best approach is to first thoroughly know what you're dealing with and then begin making a plan for your care of elderly. to help with fundamentals of caregiving.
It is vital to assess the needs of your loved one realistically
in order to provide the necessary care, and to ensure that you are not
over-extending yourself beyond your limits. Don't pretend you can handle
something if you have a feeling in the back of your mind that maybe you
Many caregiver duties are very personal to the patient, as with
my father, and you should discuss with your loved one whether they have a
preference or need for a male or female attendant. Any safety issues
should also be discussed. Needless to say, an attitude that is caring
and respectful should always be maintained by the caregiver toward the
patient and any elderly problems.
In working with my father and other caregivers, we have developed some of the top caregiver duties that may need to be performed by either you and/or an outside person(s).
- Grooming assistance – Brushing teeth, washing, shaving,
fingernail and toenail care, etc. (Most of this I did handle with Dad,
but eventually had someone come in for his toe and fingernail care, which he loved).
- Assisting with dressing -- Can be anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes in the morning and/or evening.Sometimes it's just a matter of someone being present, just in case, letting the elderly person do as much as they can.
- Shampoo and bathing – Assistance getting in the shower or
bath. May include help with actual bathing. The caregiver is usually present the
entire time, not leaving the patient alone. (Dad could handle all this himself, even at a ripe old age. But I always sat right outside the bathroom. We never had any problems). The number of times per week
should be discussed.
- Transferring - Examples: from chair, toilet, bed, into vehicle. Some elderly need only a minimal amount of help. There are a variety of aids and devices for bed-side and chair-side assistance too. You may get a million mail order catalogs, like we do.
- Toileting - Different types of assistance may be needed.
Especially important is dryness and cleanliness - for comfort and
hygiene (for prevention of bacteria spreading). Discuss full details
with the prospective caregiver. And also the elderly person being helped. Dad like to always have pop-up wipes products available in the bathroom. Also discuss safety bars and devices that may be needed at the toilet area, as well as a portable toilet near the bed, for nighttime and naps.
- Medication – All medication assistance must be administered
with strict adherence to doctors’ orders. No changes should be made
without family and doctor approval. However, help can be as simple as
assuring medication is taken, to preparation, to actual administration. Elderly often forget about correct dosages, time of day, etc., so although it is important to include them in discussion, they may not ultimately be relied upon for medication decisions.
- Meal preparation and serving – Which meals and how many times
per week. A nutritious menu must be discussed and approved, consistent
with the patient’s dietary requirements and doctor's orders. Any eating difficulties must be discussed (such as with chewing, or digestion issues).
- Mail and newspaper – Brought in daily. Decisions should be
made regarding who will read and deal with the mail if the patient has
vision or cognitive impairment.This is an especially important to consider if no family member lives nearby, since mail can be confidential and personal.
- Housekeeping – Caregiver duties can include cleaning, making
beds, doing dishes, laundry, ironing as needed, cleaning kitchen and
bathroom, and especially maintaining sanitation.
- Sanitation – This could include, aside from personal sanitation, regular
garbage removal, ensuring sanitary bathroom areas, making sure pet areas are clean and home is free of pet messes, and cleaning out old or tainted food in the fridge and cupboards.
- Transportation – To and from appointments, stores, entertainment, adult day care.
- Errands and shopping – The patient/client may be able to go out with escort assistance, or errands may need to be done by the caregiver.
- Ambulation assistance or exercise – Whether the patient/client is able to
walk or is confined to a wheelchair, it is important to exercise
regularly. (See our page on exercise for seniors -- my Dad was a champ at this). There are also exercises available for most wheelchair and bed-ridden elderly. The doctor may have given guidelines for exercise, so discuss
the type of walking or exercise needed and how frequently.
- Management of symptoms – If the patient suffers from an
illness that causes pain, rashes, lesions, swelling, breathing
difficulties, etc., the doctor’s recommendations for procedures must be
discussed. This may involve skilled nursing care.
- Therapy – Either occupational or physical. This may be part
of elderly home care, or the patient may go to an outside physical
therapy facility. Many continuous care campuses have physical therapy on
- Emergency service –
Make sure you have an emergency contact sheet hanging on the
refrigerator that lists the family contact, any serious elderly
problems, primary care doctor, any specialists, hospital, pharmacy, etc.
You may also want a DNR form (Do Not Resuscitate) as well. Discuss whether the caregiver will
administer CPR before or after dialing 911. The caregiver should be qualified in order to do this.
- Medical care – Caregiver duties provided by an RN or LPN, hospice staff (or
else staff in the facility) depending on the circumstances and as
recommended by a doctor.
- Hospice care – Hospice care is usually in duration of 6
months or less, to keep patient physically and emotionally comfortable
during transition period. Hospice service is ordered by the doctor. Hospice care may occur in the home or in a facility. It may be covered by Medicare.
- Short-term respite care – A senior home care service can come in to give the family caregiver a break either for a few hours or even days. Discuss which caregiver duties will need to be performed during that time. Another option is bringing the elderly person to a respite care facility. Be sure you are clear on what will be provided.
- Communicating – Both progress and any issues should be communicated by a healthcare service with the family. If you find a caregiver is not working out, you should feel free to discuss this and request a replacement. And this certainly does happen.
- Companionship – Assisting with attendance at social events,
escorting to adult day care, or the caregiver provides social activities
such as reading aloud to the patient/client, playing games, simply watching a favorite movie with them, or doing crafts and
- Activities – if you need activity ideas we have lots!
See about our books, below...
The list above includes a lot of caregiver duties!
My Dad did have many
issues that took special care. But he was ambulatory and could also do
his own grooming, eating, etc. It is a list to pay attention to so you
don't take on more than you can handle and get burned out. Which can
happen sooner than one thinks!
Are you looking for lots of ideas for activities and games? Well we have a couple of excellent Kindle books for you!
"201 Fun Senior Activities" -- If you need a comprehensive book with loads of activities, that can also help with your caregiver duties, then this is the perfect Kindle book for you! (Kindle books can also be easily be read on your PC without an actual Kindle device.) This book contains lots of new ideas,
as well as neatly organized activities from our web site -- so you
don't have to search all over. It's sectioned into handy categories,
such as General Activities, Activities for Men, Fun Food Activities,
Holiday Activities, Outdoor Activities, Dementia Activities, and much
more! Just go to our Kindle page at:
201 Fun! Senior Activities
"71 Fun Games for Seniors" -- Caregiver duties can involve a
little entertainment. Want some great game ideas? Whether for the whole
family, games to do alone, or ideas for activity directors, this Kindle book has load of games! Something for everyone and for just about every occasion. It contains lots of new games,
plus many of those mentioned on our web site -- all nicely organized so
you don't have to hunt all over. We have Holiday Games, Party Games,
Mind Games, Dementia Games, Outdoor Games, and much more. It is
thorough! (And you can read a Kindle book on your PC with a free
download, without a Kindle device). So check it out on our Kindle page
71 Fun Games for Seniors
"Fun Party Themes for Seniors" -- I share a ton of parties in this
book. Since major holiday parties are usually well-planned already by
most folks, I don't go into those as much. What I do offer is all kinds
of other unique themes for any time of year, outdoors or indoors, large
groups or small. And to fit just about any budget. Many parties can be
modified to work into other holidays as well. Plus, I include decorating
ideas and actual projects, and many recipes (many are right from my
Dad's famous recipe box).
Fun Party Themes for Seniors
Also be sure to read these other pages:
Home Healthcare - Pre-screening an agency
-- If you decide you need help, it is crucial that you understand about
to find out about the qualifications and certification of home
healthcare providers. Just because they have a glossy brochure does not
necessarily mean they're the best! (And reputation gets around).
The Fundamentals of Caregiving
-- What is caregiving all about exactly? This page contains information
about typical elderly caregiving provided by either a senior home care
service, in assisted living facilities, or nursing homes where you or
your loved one may live, even if temporarily. After you read our related
pages you will have a very good idea about what to expect, what to ask
caregivers, and possible sharing of caregiver duties.
Care For Elderly In Home - Tips and Ideas
-- Care for elderly in home takes a lot of planning, whether a loved
one is staying in their own home or moving in with someone else (perhaps
you). Here are some great tips and ideas to consider, including having
Return from Caregiver Duties, back to Care of Elderly page.