Caregivers may be an essential part of aging for some people. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), over 65 million Americans serve as a caregiver to a loved one. There’s a lot of work that goes into caregiving and also a lot of possibly difficult conversations. Caregivers are there to assist with daily activities and having a caregiver doesn’t necessarily mean someone can’t live on their own.

What is a caregiver?

A caregiver is a person who assists with the daily activities, typically for the elderly. They can assist with groceries, light housekeeping, meal prepping, medication management, personal hygiene, and laundry, among other light tasks. These tasks after often called activities of daily living (ADLs).

Deciding on a caregiver

There are different paths to getting a caregiver. You first must decide who your caregiver should be. There are two types of caregivers: formal and informal. Formal caregivers are paid and trained aides, typically from a home health agency, like Area Agency on Aging of Western Arkansas. Informal caregivers are usually family members. They don’t get paid and it’s likely they are not formally trained.

It’s important to figure out what’s best for you. Typically, there are eligibility requirements for formal caregivers. For example, our homemaker and personal care services require patients have a current Medicaid card or be able to private pay, and the care must be prescribed by their primary care physician.

Although informal caregivers do not have eligibility requirements, they also are not getting paid. The majority of informal caregivers work full-time jobs aside from caregiving, which can also take up just as much time. According to the NAC, informal caregivers can also be put under a lot of stress as a caregiver, as they have many roles and responsibilities.

What to consider

There are a lot of things to consider when deciding on a caregiver. How much time is needed for the person in need of care? Is it temporary or permanent? Is only basic housework needed or are more health-related services required? Will loved ones be able to help with becoming overwhelmed? These are all things to consider when deciding on a caregiver service.

Check out Caregiving 101: A Guide for First-Time Caregivers our complete guide for caregivers!

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