Types of Caregivers for the Elderly

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The number of old age people have increased phenomenally, in India. Children and family members stay in different cities or countries, thousands of kilometres apart. It’s at such times that caregivers come into the picture. There are many types of caregivers that work with seniors. If you have an ageing parent, being aware of their roles and responsibilities will help you make an informed decision about employing the right caregiver. Rita tells us about the various types of caregivers, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

In this day and age, most of us are unable to provide daily, round the clock care and support to our elderly loved ones. Either we have to be at work for most part of the day or we live in different cities or countries, thousands of kilometres apart. It’s at such times that caregivers come into the picture. There are many types of caregivers that work with seniors. If you have an aging parent, being aware of their roles and responsibilities will help you make an informed decision about employing the right caregiver.

Non-Certified Caregivers/ Companions

Non-certified caregivers provide custodial, supportive, and long-term personal care services, which may also include housekeeping, preparation, and . These types of non-certified caregivers include attendants, ayahs, cooks, and domestic helpers, who usually work as either private-duty hires for or as employees of or non- home care agencies.

In-home, non-certified caregivers provide assistance and companionship to elderly individuals who need some help performing daily activities. Such a caregiver’s job description varies based on the elderly individual’s needs. Some common tasks include planning and preparing meals, light housekeeping, laundry, and other general needs, which, more or less, overlap with the duties of a cook and domestic helper. After receiving special training, caregivers can also assist with an elderly person’s bathing, dressing, and grooming needs. In short, non-certified aides provide general routine personal care services, which is commonly needed to help care for a loved one at home.

Non-certified caregivers include:

Medical attendants, also known as ayahs, fall under this non-certified category and they usually perform all non-medical patient duties including an elderly person to the bathroom, providing bed pans, washing bed linen, meal preparation, bathing, and other similar tasks. They can also be trained to administer daily medication to the elderly under family supervision.

Companions are those caregivers who do not perform direct personal care but instead are more focused on providing comfort and companionship to those people who cannot be left alone and unsupervised. Companions assist in a variety of non-medical activities such as engaging in conversations, playing board games, helping with paying utility bills, and banking assistance.

Certified Nursing Assistants

Certified nursing assistants work as an essential part of the home health care team, under the supervision of the attending doctor. These nursing assistants have successfully completed a training course and has broader healthcare training, including but not limited to home care.  Certified nursing assistants should be skilled in making competent observations of a patient’s condition for reporting to professionals.

Certified nursing assistants assist patients with activities of daily living, including personal care, ambulation, nutrition, medications, basic health monitoring (i.e. blood pressure), and health monitoring using medical equipment. Based on their level of training, certified nursing assistants may provide additional bedside care that includes wound/bedsore treatments and dressing changes, tube feedings, catheter care, ostomy changes, nebulisation, suction, and diabetic monitoring.

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses have more extensive education and must pass rigorous state curriculum requirements and a standardised exam to obtain their nursing license. They are competent to perform all aspects of skilled nursing care at home, in addition to supervising other members of the health team.

Therapists

Therapists including physical therapists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists assist in the rehab of seniors with physical injuries or disease. Restoration of mobility, strength, dexterity, balance, and communication skills is often the purpose for therapy. Therapists help individuals who are disabled by physical injuries or disease to regain maximum function with activities of daily living.

Geriatric Care Managers

Working with families of seniors, geriatric care managers provide guidance and lead families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, reducing worry, stress and providing time off of work for family caregivers through:

  • Assessment and monitoring
  • Planning and problem-solving
  • Education and advocacy
  • Family caregiver coaching

At Arogya HomeCare (www.arogyahomecare.in), our geriatric care managers provide comprehensive medical management that includes, but is not limited to, creating and maintaining digital health records, scheduling doctor visits and diagnostic tests, ordering and refilling medication, managing medical appointments, accompanying an elderly person to a specialist, coaching a caregiver about medical instructions, and helping with hospitalization and paperwork. A care plan tailored for each individual’s circumstances is prepared after a comprehensive assessment. The plan may be modified, in consultation with the elderly care seeker and family, as circumstances change.

©Rita Bhattacherjee

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Rita Bhattacharjee

Rita Bhattacharjee

Rita Bhattacharjee is a communications consultant with extensive experience in managing corporate and internal communications for companies across diverse industries, including non-profit organizations. She is the co-founder of Mission Arogya and Arogya HomeCare and has recently relocated from the US to India to channel her skills towards social entrepreneurship to increase awareness and reduce disparity in public health.She also writes poetry, some of which have been published in reputed international journals.
Rita Bhattacharjee
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