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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

  1. Assisting with personal care: bathing and grooming, dressing, toileting, and exercise

  2. Basic food preparation: preparing meals, shopping, housekeeping, laundry, and other errands

  3. General health care: overseeing medication and prescriptions usage, appointment reminders and administering medicine

  4. Mobility assistance: help with getting in and out of a wheelchair, car or shower

  5. Personal supervision: providing constant companionship and general supervision

  6. Transportation: driving to and from activities, running errands, and help getting in and out of wheelchair-accessible vehicle

  7. Emotional support: being a stable companion and supporter in all matters personal, health-related and emotional

  8. Care for the elderly: orienting or grounding someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, relaying information from a doctor to family members

  9. Back-up care (or respite) services: providing other caregivers a break

  10. Home organization: help with organizing, packing or cleaning for a trip, or general house care and cleaning

  11. 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.


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