10 Qualities that the Best Senior Caregivers Have in Common
As people age, many seniors come to rely on senior care or companion care in their older years. While friends and family can provide companion care for their loved ones, often, this is not possible. There are a variety of reasons one might consider in-home care for a loved one, including work schedules and physical limitations. In many cases, family members might lack the skills necessary to provide an adequate level of care.
The good news is that senior care management services can help take care of your loved ones during their times of need and provide the companion care they require. Senior care management also includes options for special needs individuals, such as care for dementia patients. Regardless of one's circumstances, there are always senior care management solutions available that will make life easier for everyone.
The main things to consider when hiring a senior care management company are the qualities and skills of their caregivers. Since companion care can be a difficult job, it takes a special kind of person with the right qualities to excel. This is especially true for caregivers who must provide care for dementia patients. That being the case, one should become familiar with the top ten qualities to look for in senior care management personnel and companion care services:
One of the most important qualities of a good senior caregiver is patience. Giving care to seniors can be an incredibly stressful yet rewarding job. Things may not go as planned all of the time. It's for this reason, the caregiver needs to be able to remain calm, think clearly, and provide the best care possible under demanding circumstances.
This is especially true when seniors in their care become uncooperative. During such situations, a caregiver must remain calm, collected, and not allow frustration to affect the quality of care that they provide. This is a difficult skill to master, but good caregivers will be able to care for their patients with calmness and professionalism even in the most challenging situations.
Speaking of which, a good caregiver will remain professional at all times. Not only does this include having the patience to deal with difficult situations, but it also means being able to keep work and personal business separate. A good caregiver will focus their complete attention on their seniors when they are at work.
Another sign of professionalism in senior care management workers who provide companion care is the ability to show friendliness toward patients and clients without overstepping boundaries. This is especially important for caregivers that provide care in their client's homes. Many seniors who receive in-home care don’t have the option to separate their personal lives from their care. It is up to the caregiver to set and stick to clear boundaries.
A few signs of professionalism include:
- A positive attitude at all times
- Always treating the patient with respect
- Working to adapt to the client and patient's schedule
- Avoiding distractions that might impede the quality of care provided
3. Time Management Skills
A good senior caregiver should be competent at managing their time. Once again this is even more important for senior care management personnel who work in people’s homes.
Senior caregivers often must work around their client's schedules. This could give them a limited amount of time to do what they need to do, especially if they have multiple clients they need to visit in a day. Being able to manage their time while still providing quality care for their patients can be difficult, but it is something that the best companion caregivers will have mastered in order to better serve their client's needs.
Companion caregivers often must deal with a range of emotions such as frustration, depression, and even embarrassment. A good senior caregiver will understand what their seniors are going through, and will be able to empathize with them and their daily struggles.
When providing care for dementia patients, having empathy is even more important than ever. This is because patients suffering from dementia can oftentimes have rapid mood swings brought on by their condition and can experience extreme emotions such as fear and rage. Being able to understand these emotions, and empathize with them, is a key factor in being able to provide care for dementia patients.
Things don't always go as planned in life, and this applies to senior care management as well. A good senior caregiver will have the kind of flexibility that allows them to make adjustments to their schedule and the care they provide so that they can give their seniors the best care possible.
Being flexible also applies to honoring requests from seniors. Sometimes clients will give their caregivers feedback, and based on that feedback the caregiver will need to alter their approach or handle their duties in a different way. Since every patient is different, being flexible will allow senior caregivers to adapt to each patient's needs quickly and efficiently so that they can provide the best care possible.
6. Observation Skills
Having an eye for detail is a big part of companion care. This is because a senior caregiver will oftentimes be the one who has the greatest amount of insight into how their patients are doing on a day-to-day basis. If their patients develop new symptoms, illnesses, or conditions that need to be addressed by a doctor, the senior caregiver will need to identify and report these issues.
It should be mentioned that being on the lookout for new health problems goes beyond just the physical. Sometimes there are signs that a patient is experiencing psychological distress as well, such as a lack of appetite, an uncharacteristically bad attitude, or trouble sleeping. Being able to spot the signs of psychological issues can help seniors to notify their clients that something is wrong so that the patient can get the help they need.
Here is a brief list of things that a senior caregiver should report:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased sleepiness
- Trouble moving
- Discoloration of the skin
- Digestive issues
- Increased forgetfulness
- Diminished awareness
- Obvious respiratory issues
There must be a bond of trust between a client and the people they hire to provide companion care. If this trust doesn't exist, then the client will spend time worrying about their loved one and there may even be some friction with the caregivers themselves. This is why senior care management must always do their best to ensure that their employees are trustworthy.
As one might imagine, trustworthiness is even more important when a senior care provider is working within their client's home. It's for this reason that most senior care management providers do extensive background checks on their employees to ensure that they don't pose a risk to their clients or patients. This can go a really long way in helping to put their client's minds at ease, especially if the caregiver must work while they're not home.
8. Communication Skills
Different people in different age groups communicate differently. Since a person providing companion care will likely be much younger than their patient, they need to have the ability to communicate with them in a way that's clear and understandable. Not only is this useful for practical reasons, but it also helps to put the patient's mind at ease as well.
Another thing to consider is the fact that having good communication skills means being discrete as well. If a senior caregiver notices a problem with their patient it can be best to discuss this with their client in private so as not to upset their patient. This also includes reporting issues that can help them to provide better care for their patient as special needs and circumstances arise.
9. Physical Strength and Stamina
While a senior caregiver providing companion care doesn't need to be a powerlifter or marathon runner, they should possess the basic strength and stamina needed to perform various physically demanding tasks associated with companion care. These tasks can include things like lifting seniors, carrying groceries, or pushing a wheelchair for extended periods of time.
A professional senior care management provider will ensure all of their employees meet the physical criteria necessary to provide the appropriate care for their clients. If for some reason a senior caregiver seems to be struggling physically, asking their management to provide assistance is a good option.
10. Passion for the Job
One thing that's intangible but also a very important quality for senior caregivers is having a passion for their jobs. Working with seniors who can't care for themselves is a challenging task and one many people don't have the temperament to handle. Having a true passion for providing compassionate senior care will allow a person to push through challenges and maintain a positive attitude towards their patients, even when things are tough.
A person's attitude and feelings will almost always affect their job performance. If a person doesn't care for their job, the quality of their work could suffer as a result. This can have a profound negative impact on those being cared for.
Unlike being physically fit or organized, passion isn't something that can be detected in a straightforward manner. Instead, a caregiver's passion for their job will show in their attitude, and how they conduct themselves when things get difficult. This allows providers and their clients to discern which employees truly have passion for their work, and which might be unsuitable for the job.
Fortunately, senior caregivers that don't have the passion needed to do this job tend to give up and move on very quickly, leaving only those who are truly passionate. If a caregiver has been providing care for a notable amount of time, then chances are they truly love their work and are passionate about the care that they provide.
Getting to Know to Your Senior Caregivers
Having someone who is a complete stranger take care of a loved one when they're at their most vulnerable can be stressful. This is especially true if they are tasked with providing care for a dementia patient since that scenario offers its own unique challenges. It can be a good idea to talk with your care provider and get to know them a bit so that you feel more at ease leaving your loved one in their care.
One thing to keep in mind is that this shouldn't feel like a job interview, especially if the caregiver has been hired through a senior care management facility that's already done that step for you. Instead, you should get to know your caregiver on a personal level - within reasonable limits of course. This can be done by chatting with your senior caregiver when possible in order to get to know them better and see what kind of person they are.
It’s a good idea to keep an open and healthy stream of communication with your loved one who is receiving care. They can provide better insight into how the caregiver behaves and whether or not they're doing a good job. You should stay mindful of your loved one's demeanor when listening to them speak about their caregiver. Compassion is one of the most important attributes a caregiver can convey through their work, and your loved one should be responsive to a compassionate caregiver.
Families should feel comfortable with their senior caregivers. Knowing the qualities to look for in a caregiver can go a long way in helping to ensure that your loved one gets the best care possible and knowing that your loved one is in good, capable hands
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