Elderly caregiver duties vary, depending on needs.
So what comes to mind
when you think of elder caregivers?
Senior home care? Elderly long-term care in assisted living facilities?
A nursing home, or memory care facility?
Or you?
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. 

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 would provide?

About Caregiver Duties

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 facility.

This is especially true if progressing elderly problems or illnesses are involved, particularly dementia. 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 can’t.

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.

Main Caregiver Duties

 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 site.
  • 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 hobbies.
  • Activitiesif you need activity ideas we have lots!
    See about our books, below

A caregiver duties list is important 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!

Activities Books

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:

“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 at:

“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).

Also be sure to read:

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’s it all about exactly? Get 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. Learn what to expect, what to ask caregivers, and possible sharing of caregiver duties.
Care For Elderly In Home – Tips and Ideas
— It takes a lot of planning, whether a loved one is staying in their own home or moving in with someone else (perhaps you). Some great tips and ideas, including fun!

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Care for elderly in home takes a lot of planning. Whatever way it happens, it may involve big changes in life style, and it’s best to plan for in advance, if possible.

Care may take place in their own home (perhaps with home healthcare services too), or your elderly loved one may be moving in with someone else (perhaps you). Which was my case. I found that I indeed did need some home services later on.

You cannot do this alone.
It is important to stress right here. Even if you are doing it alone. That was a big mistake I started to make at first. And there are many ways to find support (see below).

The state’s trend in Minnesota, is to encourage care for elderly in home, including with family, for as long as possible. The reasons?

Cost is the first. It is less expensive and therefore seniors do not go through their assets as rapidly, at which point the state would subsidize care. Another is health and well-being. The state is very aware that senior health is much better when living with loved ones, largely due to better nutrition, social interaction, personal supervision, and mental stimulation.

Every situation with care for elderly in home is unique and different. But I learned there are common tips to consider.

First, educate yourself as to the fundamentals of caregiving, and of typical caregiver duties. Some of the preparations must be done before a loved one moves in with you. Or, if they are remaining at home, take action right away. With ta good approach, it’s very possible to care for elderly in home for a long time.

My story – and what I needed to do

…to move my father in with me, from assisted living, and why. He felt that at this time of his life, the most important thing to him was to live with family for as long as possible. Dad has serious vision and hearing loss but is otherwise in very good health. But no matter what the circumstances, care for elderly in home involves many of the same considerations.

As we mentioned in our page on Elderly Help – Making A Plan, there are several categories to consider for your particular situation:

  • Health care
  • Safety
  • Social needs
  • Nutrition
  • Personal needs
  • Daily tasks and housekeeping

When my father and I decided he would move in with me from assisted living, there were several factors I needed to consider. He was in great need of social interaction and activities, and help with daily tasks. Because of his deaf-blind condition, he became somewhat lonely and isolated, although surrounded by lots of people in assisted living. He could only socialize or participate on a limited basis.

I knew that it was of utmost importance to make sure Dad had plenty of social interaction and positive attitude to maintain good memory and mood. This is one of the advantages of care for elderly in home.

Dad was already in very good health, exercised a lot, and had excellent nutrition. (If you’d like elderly nutrition tips, see our page on Elderly Nutrition.) For us, the main issues regarding care for elderly in home were safety, and social and mental stimulation.

Nevertheless, I knew I had to be prepared that anything could change in any area at any time. I had to have a game plan in place. There are many specifics to plan for with care for elderly in home. Some of the situations we had to think through are below.

Planning Care for Elderly In Home

Information

asian female doctor

Emergency and Directions
Care for elderly in home requires detailed information that all involved have access to.

On the fridge, post a sheet of paper with all of the necessary medical information, doctors, hospital, important phone numbers and addresses, who has power of attorney, who are the primary contacts, etc. Also include detailed prescription and medication information and schedule. This was a valuable idea we learned that was mandated at Dad’s former assisted living.

The information is for anyone who may need to help in an emergency. The information should also be given to all appropriate family members or caregivers who will be involved with your loved one.

Make sure power of attorney has been designated, as well as an executor, plus healthcare directives in place. Also it’s ideal to have a letter of instruction, a will, living trust, etc. The appropriate family members or people involved should all be given the same information. 

caregiver with elderly woman with walker

Help and Resources
When you care for elderly in home, you do not need to feel alone. I did lots of research and made a list of various resources in my community  to draw on, should something happen. Some of these may also work for you:

  • Home healthcare services and visiting nurses (quality and reputation will differ).
  • Source or store for independent living aids and assistive devices (a local pharmacy specialized in this).
  • Geriatric case manager, if appropriate (his doctor recommended one, should the need arise).
  • Visiting companion services (I got a referral from church and also the senior living campus down the street).
  • Church contacts (many have a visiting parish nurse or a befriender program).
  • Library visits (local libraries have volunteers for seniors).
  • Help from state blind or deaf organizations, and other appropriate organizations with lots of advice and even free devices and materials — it was wonderful for Dad. They came to visit several times a year with updates.
  • Neighbors, friends or family who can pop in while you’re out.
  • Local small businesses who run errands and help with the elderly may also sit with them while you are out.
  • Who can help if and when you go on vacation.
  • Respite care resources (our senior campuses have a set up for this on-site for up to a week).
  • Adult day care (it may include transportation to and from).
  • Senior transportation.
  • Support groups (for you, if needed).
  • Hospital and hospice (check into these before you need them and while you’re not in a crisis).

This list should include phone numbers, addresses, web site addresses, and contact names. Give this list to all family or others who will be involved.

Health

This is a vast topic. With care for elderly in home, there are a myriad health issues that can come and go, some will be more serious. You must be very knowledgeable about all your loved one’s current health issues, treatments, medications, and what the doctor believes could be expected to occur in the future (if known).

Dad and I determined that as things happened, we would call upon home healthcare when necessary, allowing him to stay living with me as long as possible.

In the meantime, I took precautionary steps for “just in case” scenarios. With care for elderly in home, you never know what can come up. One step was purchasing incontinence products in advance, should that situation occur, and special cleaning products.

Talk to your loved one’s doctor and local pharmacist for guidelines about products, sanitation, assistance, procedures, and other matters. Play out possible scenarios in your mind and how you would handle them. What would you do, at least temporarily, and who would you then go to for help.

Safety Measures

When Dad moved in with me this was very eye-opening. Lots of changes needed to be made for safety. So we discussed planning, crucial communication, what to do when he’d be home alone (which was infrequent and for a very short time), re-vamping areas of the home prone to causing accidents like the bathroom, stairs, bedroom, kitchen, etc. You can find many catalogs and online sites for senior products that offer lots of solutions.

Activities and Keeping Busy

Care for elderly in home also involves fun!
Plan with your loved one about what activities, hobbies, and projects they enjoy, and which chores they can help with to keep busy. This also allows them to feel a sense of contribution. Also ask them which activities they want you to participate in, and which they like to do by themselves.

One of our favorites is me reading aloud to Dad. Each evening I read from a book, and twice a week I read him the local newspaper. A schedule is very important to the elderly (and caregiver), to add structure, continuity and something to look forward to and count on. Within this schedule can be variety or something new and fun. Most elderly need consistent meal and snack times.

My Dad liked to walk. This was difficult during the winter here, and when living with me he no longer had many long halls to walk down, as in assisted living. So his doctor recommended a very simple treadmill. He also walked through our rooms and halls, and went up and down the stairs to exercise with me. (Get exercise ideas on our exercises for the elderly page).

When you go out, decide which outings they can come along on. Especially during inclement weather.

We planned for Dad to accompany me to the grocery store, department stores, or large discount stores, so he could do some walking in the aisles with me. If he got tired, we sat him on a bench or in the in-store coffee area for awhile. We went to church every Sunday as much as possible and if we couldn’t, we watched services on TV.

Your circumstances will be yours. But perhaps these tips and experiences about care for elderly in home will trigger more ideas for you. I can’t stress enough how important careful planning is.

Also of utmost importance is to learn to relax, go with the flow, and accept What Is. You learn to live in the Now, as they say. Especially in their now.

Caregiving involves Care and Giving, two very wonderful words. So relax and enjoy this time with your loved one. You’ll be less stressed. And you will be making very special memories.

And know that you are not alone. There is a wealth of resources available to help with care for elderly in home. Find out about them and get them in place as soon as you can. This will help with your peace of mind, and allow you to also take care of yourself.

Activities Books

Are you looking for lots of ideas for activities and games? Well we have a couple of excellent Kindle books for you! (And you don’t even need a Kindle device — you can just download them to your computer).

senior activities books

“201 Fun Senior Activities” — If you need a comprehensive book with loads of activities, 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:

“71 Fun Games for Seniors” — 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 at:

“Fun Party Themes For Seniors” — This is a really comprehensive book for full party planning, including easy and delicious family recipes right from my Dad’s recipe box — he loved to entertain! Even decorating (and some crafts) to follow the party themes. If you don’t have the time or desire to plan everything out, this book will do it. Or if you want a few new ideas, get them here. Take a look on this Kindle page:

Be sure to also read:

Elderly Health Care – Issues and Solutions — Get more tips and insights about various health issues that our elderly face (and that you may too, as a caregiver).


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Having good home healthcare information in advance is vital to screening and choosing top-notch home healthcare providers. This ever-growing field specifically provides care for elderly in home so they can remain there longer. They assist the family with elderly issues and caregiver duties they are not able to perform.

Services can be contracted with home healthcare providers on a custom-made basis for weekly or daily visits, for a home healthcare nurse, or even live-in assistance.

Home Healthcare Information

Fundamentals of caregiving include daily household tasks, medication help, transportation to medical appointments, mobility help, emergency care, helping with elderly activities, counseling, and more. See our page on Caregiver Duties for more details.

But who should you choose and what do you need to know about care for elderly in home?

Here is valuable home healthcare information on pre-screening a service, from Comfort Keepers, national home healthcare providers who are expert with the fundamentals of caregiving.

    Q) My husband can’t be left alone and I will need some in home care. What important questions should I be sure to ask prospective caregivers or agencies? — Edna W., Sarasota, FL

    Getting quality care without leaving yourself vulnerable can be trickier than most people really understand. The glossy brochures and a recommendation from a neighbor doesn’t give you some important information needed to find a good fit and protect your assets.

    Start with general questions about how many caregivers they have, what background checks are performed (do they do local and national checks), what happens if a caregiver gets sick. Also learn about the training and supervision of the caregiving staff.

    You will also want to know if the caregivers are employees of the company or independent contractors. If they are not employees of the agency you could become an accidental employer and possibly found to be liable for medical bills and lost wages in the event of injury.

    Does the agency carry liability insurance in the event you are injured while the caregiver is driving? Who is responsible for payroll taxes and social security payments? If you use private individuals or independent contractors you might want to check with your attorney on your potential liabilities.

    Don’t stop asking questions just because the brochure says bonded and insured – the caregiver may not be!

    For a free brochure – 20 Questions to Ask before hiring A Home Care Agency. Visit the Comfort Keeper web site.

According to home healthcare information and statistics, services typically cost $20 or more per hour. This is much more affordable than a nursing home or assisted living. But it is still costly.

After you have pre-screened home healthcare providers, you will need to know how to ask very specific questions about caregiver duties and services.

This home healthcare information will clarify for both family members and outside assistants just what the elderly problems and expectations are. These details ensure a more stress-free and satisfying experience for you and your loved one.

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