Special Thanks once again to Greg Brown and James Armstrong, from Now What Jobs for this article. Many of us are attempting to deal with this new role in our boomer years.
Following is part two of an interview with Phyllis Slater, owner of Slater Solutions LLC. Ms. Slater has devoted years to providing coaching and concierge services to the working caregiver and aging parent. Visit Phyllis Slater’s website .
Q. Is caregiving a rewarding career?
A. Yes, I have a creative personality and passion to find solutions. Working for others did not provide that freedom, which was a trade-off for security. Eight years ago I started my own business helping seniors to downsize their home, pack and unpack for relocation, and organize the home for ease of movement. This process is more than just packing and unpacking. Now the family can learn how to properly do these tasks for themselves by hiring me for coaching sessions over the telephone.
As time went on, I created friendships with other senior care providers. It became clear that there was a gap with respect to information, resources and the caregiver. Unfortunately, aging is not a pleasant thought and people wait for the last minute to think about it.
Q. could we have an overview of caregiving?
A. There are two types of caregivers. There are both family and professional caregivers.
Q. What does it mean to be a family caregiver?
A. Family caregivers are on call 24/7 should a loved one’s health and care change. Today a loved one may be independent but a fall tonight could mean hospitalization, rehabilitation and care when they return home. That is if they return home.
Q. Describe a day in the life of a family caregiver.
A. From rising in the morning, responsibilities start with making sure a loved one takes meals and medications; is bathed and dressed; you cook, clean, shop and provide transportation. Don?t forget the importance of social interaction with the loved one.
Family and professional caregivers must work as a team. A perfect scenario of how to be a great caregiver includes planning ahead for any contingency, which includes a list of products, services and resources within reach. However, this is not reality since most caregivers wait until a crisis to think about these things. There are unknowns, such as being independent until illness places them into a nursing home. Years ago there wasn?t any in-between stage. Now we have options such as Assisted Living and Continuing Care Facilities.
Q. What kinds of people are most in need of caregiver services?
A. Caregiver services should be available to someone who has physical, mental or age related challenges.
Q. What do these people need the most?
A. Support and services in a clean, caring and affordable environment. Aging is a process. Preparing for reality of aging is as important as preparing for retirement.
Q. What kinds of challenges does a family caregiver face?
A. When a loved one can no longer be fully independent, many families have no idea of the emotional and physical stress it puts on them. The key is to avoid ?burnout? by taking time out for a quiet walk, lunch with friends or bringing a massage therapist and hair stylist to the home.
Q. What kinds of advice do you give to a Boomer who is considering getting a caregiver for his or her parent?
A. Plan ahead by asking friends for referral services they have used. Keep a record of this for future reference. Doctors and organizations provide referrals, but that does not mean they have ever used them or know someone who has.
If a professional caregiver is required, interview their company as closely as they will interview you.
* Is the company and staff bonded?
* Will one person be the primary caregiver?
* Does the personality of your loved one work with the personality of the caregiver?
* What is the pricing?
* Perform company background checks.
Q. What are some of the disadvantages of being a caregiver?
A. Burnout is a big concern if there is no personal respite time allowed. Sometimes a spouse feels guilty about taking time away from the ailing spouse. What happens is that the healthy spouse dies first.
James O. Armstrong, who is President of NowWhatJobs.net, Inc., http://www.nowwhatjobs.net, also serves as the Editor of NowWhatJobs.net. In addition, he is the author of “Now What: Discovering Your New Life And Career After 50” and the President of James Armstrong & Associates, Inc., which is a media representation firm based in Suburban Chicago.