What is a caregiver? We can easily break down the actual word for the definition, do a Google search, or check the dictionary. But the better question is, who is a caregiver? And when I ask “who”, I mean in terms of character. The job or role of a caregiver is not black and white. It cannot simply be composed of a list of tasks that can be checked off when completed to signify a job well done. There is more to being a caregiver than someone who gives direct care to someone else (e.g. helps or provides protection). That’s like saying a teacher is someone who makes sure a student received her textbook, hands out assignments and tests on time. We all know there is more to being a teacher than that. So there is definitely more to being a caregiver than simply providing direct care. A person’s character is what should be used to fill the role of caregiver. The role of caregiver is so under-appreciated that it’s scary. The pay is barely minimum wage at times and that is astounding. Let’s go through what a typical day for me and my mom is as caregivers.
First, Monday – Friday is split between me and my mother. My mother has from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. to get my grandmother up out of bed, freshened up, dentures in, dressed and fed with medicines given too so that my grandmother can be on the bus to the senior center on time (they come at 6:30 a.m. to pick my grandmother up). Then, while I’m at work, my mom is able to have the rest of the day and most of the afternoon to herself to catch up on rest, groceries, chores, feed her cat, etc. My mom returns to my house around 3:00 p.m. to get ready for my grandmother (who sometimes is dropped off at 4:00 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. or anytime in between). My mom gets dinner ready for herself and my grandmother before my granny arrives. Once home, my mother changes my grandmother. This could mean a full bath or a sponge bath. But it definitely means a new pull-up and a change of clothes to comfy pajamas. I’m usually home by the time my grandmother finishes her dinner but if I’m running late, my mother squeezes in some exercises. Once I’m home, I tag my mom out so she can go home and recharge for the next day and I start my caregiver duties for the night.
My full time, round-the-clock care often starts when I get home from work on Friday as I live with my grandmother and there is no senior center for her on the weekends. That means I’m on point for all needs, all weekend long, with minimal breaks in between.