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Guide to Caregivers and Their Role

This article is not intended to provide you with legal advice. Should you seek legal advice, please consult an attorney. KTS would gladly recommend an attorney should you need one. It’s important to have an attorney take appropriate actions on your behalf and to avoid issues that may be discussed in this article.

Caregivers help seniors and the disabled.

What is a caregiver?

Caregivers help seniors and disabled individuals to stay independent, healthy, and happy in their homes by providing a variety of services. Quality home health care often depends on them.

They help with daily tasks and assist in meeting the needs of an older or disabled adult. In addition, they attend to chronic condition care, mobility issues, memory loss, and/or injuries that can increase the challenges of caregiving. 

Despite these challenges, providing care to an individual in need can be rewarding even though the caregiver may not receive a home care salary. And with longer life expectancies, the care recipients welcome their assistance. 

Who are these caregivers?

Caregivers have many faces and represent a wide variety of individuals who provide assistance to adult loved ones, neighbors, even friends who are disabled or need help with health issues. These caregivers may also have a significant relationship with the senior. Family members and caregivers are often one and the same.

According to AARP’s Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 Report, “53.0 million adults have been caregivers (unpaid) to an adult or child” in the year preceding their study. Sixty-one percent are women (3 in 5), and 39 percent are men (2 in 5) with an average age of 49 years old. 

Even if you don’t see yourself as one, if you have taken on the responsibility to care for someone—a parent, spouse, neighbor—you are an informal caregiver. On the other hand, if you are paid and did not have a prior relationship with the senior, you are a formal provider.

As a caregiver, you know how difficult this responsibility can be and how it can progressively get more difficult as the care recipient ages. Caregivers for seniors know the many challenges of elderly care.

As the demand for caregiving at home gets greater, the decision on whether to seek professional care may surface. But since senior home care is not covered by medical insurance, the question of whether or not they can afford the in-home caregiver salary becomes an issue. Other decisions, like the need to consider a pooled trust, may also come into play.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a caregiver?

Giving care to a senior or disabled person may start out with certain day-to-day tasks that evolve and become more complex over time. They may begin to face increasing challenges and be ill-prepared and lack needed skills like caring for wounds, giving injections, etc. Indeed, with significant caregiver stress, the caregiver may need caregiver support.

As a result, family caregivers who take on these responsibilities may benefit from training or decide it’s time to consider a private, professional caregiver. As mentioned in CDC’s article on “Caregiving for Family and Friends,” these responsibilities may increase and evolve as the care recipient’s needs increase. This can add additional strain and stress on the ones providing care, compromising caregiver health.

Here is a list of some of the caregiving tasks provided on a daily basis:

Personal Care Assistance:

  • Bathing, grooming, hair care, dressing 
  • Feeding
  • Toileting 
  • Assist with transfer and mobility 
  • Supervision
  • Manage behavioral (symptoms)

Emotional Support:

  • Provide companionship
  • Facilitate activities 
  • Troubleshoot conflict/problems

Health:

  • Assess medical needs
  • Monitor and administer medication
  • Operate medical equipment
  • Provide wound care
  • Prepare meals for a special diet
  • Respond to emergency and critical needs

Household:

  • Help with housework
  • Wash and dry clothes
  • Shopping
  • Preparing meals
  • Manage money
  • Handle/pay bills
  • Provide transportation
  • Household maintenance

Coordinating Care/Advocacy:

  • Prepare and facilitate a care plan
  • Arrange appointments
  • Coordinate external services
  • Communicate with health providers
  • Communicate with family members

Surrogacy:

  • Participate in health decisions
  • Manage legal or financial affairs
  • Handle personal property
  • Take part in advanced planning

Source: What Family Caregivers Do for Older Adults

What makes the role of caregiver so critical?

Family life has changed over the decades. The elderly were part of a closer-knit community and lived in the same neighborhoods as their family. Sometimes in the same house. These arrangements made it easier for family, friends, and neighbors to help out with daily, routine tasks. 

But today, many aging individuals find themselves alone and unable to get the needed support from those around them. They may not be able to get around the way they used to and struggle to do self-care activities. So, although their living situation has changed considerably from what you would expect in the ’50s and ’60s, the senior care needs of this aging group have not. 

Caring for an elderly person is not just about daily household tasks or personal care. It’s also about tending to their social and health needs. And although most aging individuals may not give an official cry for help, they will progressively decline in health and wellbeing without the appropriate care. 

What are the benefits of having a caregiver?

Many of the benefits of having a personal care aide (paid or not) are obvious and inherent in the daily activities performed by the in-home caregiver. But this personal and homecare assistance goes well beyond routine tasks. These attentive home care aides provide comfort and help boost the quality of life with benefits that keep seniors healthy and content. Here are a few of the many benefits: 

Aging in place and being independent – The dream of many elderly persons is to grow old in their own homes and care for themselves. But as time goes on, simple tasks become more difficult. Chronic health problems can make things increasingly difficult. The help they receive from attentive in-home aides can motivate them to achieve what’s possible and to continue to do what they can accomplish on their own for as long as possible. 

Provide social interaction and companionship – Being alone and isolated is tough on anyone and especially difficult for seniors. Socializing and having moral support help their well-being and positive outlook on life. Just having someone to talk to, share leisure activities, and provide companionship can make all the difference in the world.

Attending to health issues with efficient care – An in-home aide can help provide the added security of someone attending to critical needs resulting from chronic illness and disease. Having at-home care can help delay being placed in a nursing home and result in fewer emergency room and hospital admissions. 

Provide consistency and peace of mind – Having a consistent schedule and caregiver who is attentive and aligned with the senior’s needs can do wonders for the elderly individual and their family. This consistency can help in building a strong relationship, keep confusion at bay, and promote wellbeing.

Should you be a caregiver for your family member or friend?

Being a caregiver for a friend or family member can greatly alter your plans for a career, result in loss of income, and affect your current job and retirement plans. It’s an enormous decision and comes with many challenges, albeit it can also be very rewarding.

If you are weighing the pros and cons, here are a few that John Hopkins Medicine suggests should be considered:

  • What amount of time will be needed to assist your loved one at home? And will this invested time increase or decrease?
  • Do you know and have the skills needed to give the homebound person the best type of care for their situation?
  • Will providing this help at home become a burden and potentially overwhelm any one family member, friend, or neighbor?
  • What about the senior/disabled person’s opinion regarding family (informal) versus a private, professional (formal) caregiver?

What is the pay rate to be a caregiver for your family member?

Most caregivers who are caring for family and friends are not likely to receive any pay for the precious time they invest. Bottom line is that most don’t receive any family caregiver pay rate for what they do for an elderly loved one. 

You may be wondering how to get paid to care for a family member. According to AARP, the best chance of getting a personal/home attendant salary is if your loved one is a U.S. military veteran “or someone eligible for Medicaid, but other possibilities exist.”

 For Medicaid recipients, all 50 states offer programs that can include “hiring a family member to provide care.” The rules, eligibility, coverage, and benefits, however, vary from one state to the next. Paying family caregivers, in some programs, exclude legal guardians and spouse. And in some cases, these home assistance aides will be paid only if they do not share the same residence as the individual receiving care.

For those interested in becoming a paid caregiver, the job platform, Indeed, states the average salary in the United States for caregivers is $13.73 per hour. 

Should you hire someone to be your loved one’s caregiver?

Caring for a loved one, although purposeful, can reach a point when decisions need to be made about the care recipient’s continued long-term care. In fact, caring for another is also stressful and can create a strain on those providing these needed services. 

Research indicates that many are taking on this role increasingly in recent years and without training or support. With this reality, many can be facing their own mental and health issues as a result. It may be time to seek resources to help you cope or look for a skilled professional.

Understanding the declining needs of your loved one’s care can signal the importance of choosing a professional caregiver. A skilled caregiver will help meet the unique needs of the care recipient. Although typically paid by the family, these formal caregivers can also help family members in learning how to cope and provide a sense of calm.

About the author, Carlos Nath:

Carlos Nath is the Senior Trust Advisor with KTS Pooled Trust. As a seasoned professional with over four years of experience in the New York pooled trust space, Carlos has helped thousands to enroll and set up their accounts with KTS. He is proficient in understanding the Medicare process and provides assistance in clarifying what clients may need. Previously, Carlos worked with a Medicaid consulting firm as an advisor who helped clients who were seeking Medicaid assistance.

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As individuals begin to age, concerns over health and long-term care may start to take front and center. Many times, our loved ones are a constant reminder that we need to think about our own future healthcare needs.
New York State Medicaid is a program available to eligible, low-income New York State residents who require additional help paying for their medical expenses.

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As individuals begin to age, concerns over health and long-term care may start to take front and center. Many times, our loved ones are a constant reminder that we need to think about our own future healthcare needs.
New York State Medicaid is a program available to eligible, low-income New York State residents who require additional help paying for their medical expenses.