A few days ago we received a call around 8.30 am. A lady spoke hastily, “I need an ayah for 12 hours a day for a month for taking care of my ailing father.” She paused for a moment and then continued, “Well, you see, I feel a caregiver can also do the job. There is no need for an ayah even if it is going to be a tad expensive.” We were a bit confused and irritated. With due politeness we asked, “Madam, are you sure your father needs a caregiver and not an ayah?” Pat came the reply, “Dono same hi toh hai. I believe a caregiver is a more sophisticated version of an ayah.” We kept quiet for a moment and then explored with her the reasons for which she needed caregiver assistance. To cut the long story short, we realized the importance of conveying to our readers the role of a caregiver for the elderly.
Roles of a Caregiver
Assisting with personal care: bathing and grooming, dressing, toileting, and exercise
Basic food preparation: preparing meals, shopping, housekeeping, laundry, and other errands
General health care: overseeing medication and prescriptions usage, appointment reminders and administering medicine
Mobility assistance: help with getting in and out of a wheelchair, car or shower
Personal supervision: providing constant companionship and general supervision
Transportation: driving to and from activities, running errands, and help getting in and out of wheelchair-accessible vehicle
Emotional support: being a stable companion and supporter in all matters personal, health-related and emotional
Care for the elderly: orienting or grounding someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, relaying information from a doctor to family members
Back-up care (or respite) services: providing other caregivers a break
Home organization: help with organizing, packing or cleaning for a trip, or general house care and cleaning
Health monitoring: following a care plan and noticing any changes in the individual’s health, recording and reporting any differences
Thus, it is quite evident that the role of caregiver requires specialized skills set which comes only through training and practice. It also calls for certain degree education preferably graduation, or how else is a caregiver is going to provide an elderly person necessary emotional support? The scope of caregiver’s role is quite vast as it encompasses not only assisting with personal care but also home organization. Obviously, in this context the role of an ayah is usually limited to assisting with personal care and mobility assistance.