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What is a Personal Caregiver?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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The term personal caregiver usually means an employed professional who works to see to the needs of someone who is in one or more ways incapable of personal care tasks. This could be someone with long-term physical or mental disabilities, or a person recovering from a temporary disabling illness. The amount of time a caregiver could provide to the person could range from an hour or two a few days a week to most of the time. Sometimes the personal caregiver lives in the person’s home and is available around the clock, though more often when this level of supervision is needed two or more caregivers share this responsibility.

There isn’t necessarily defined training for the personal caregiver. Instead they may have on the job training or some are certified nursing assistants. Should greater medical supervision be required, a home nurse or visiting nurse might be used instead. Any administration of medications, especially by intravenous (IV) line, could require additional medical skill a personal caregiver can’t provide.

Jobs of personal caregivers can vary significantly. These workers often do housework, such as cleaning houses, changing beds, vacuuming, and et cetera. They could also shop for or prepare meals for their clients. Part of the job can very much be helping clients with personal care needs. They could change diapers, help with bathing/showering, or assist with a variety of personal grooming tasks. Alternately, they may help lift and move clients that have limited mobility issues.

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To an extent, caregivers are also in place to present a cheerful demeanor and to talk to those for whom they care. This can be very challenging since some patients are morbid, depressed, or very angry. On the other hand some clients are cheerful and delightful. It might vary by day and vary by person, but caregivers of this nature may experience caregiver strain and their tremendous salaries do not mitigate this. US Employees of this nature tend to make between $10-11 US Dollars (USD) an hour or less, little more than minimum wage.

Many times the personal caregiver shares work of taking care of someone with family members. Alternately, family members could end up taking on the job of caretaker for a relative. For the professional, sharing the work means not just coping with the client. Caretakers might need to report to, get along with, and support other family in different ways.

Even the amateur relative caregiver, may need to hire a personal caregiver from time to time. Just as professionals are subject to caregiver strain so are direct family members, perhaps more so because they are related to the people for whom they care. Finding a balance of professional and family care may prove very helpful for all, reducing stresses that may be felt in a family.

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