Are you trying to determine the best caregiving style for an aging family member or loved one? In this guide, we’ll review the responsibilities of a caregiver and the five different types of caregivers. We’ll look at the pros and cons of different types of caregiving, so you can make the right choice for you and your family.
Types of caregivers:
- Family caregiving
- Professional in-home caregivers
- Virtual caregivers
- Nursing home caregiving
- Assisted living facility caregiving
Note: Although we don’t discuss hospice in this guide, that is another type of caregiving for seniors needing end-of-life care. Learn more about palliative and hospice types of caregivers here.
What are the responsibilities of a caregiver?
Some of the roles and responsibilities of a caregiver include the following:
- Assisting with daily personal activities, like bathing, dressing, toileting
- Assisting with mobility, like walking and getting in and out of bed
- Promoting physical therapy like stretches and exercises
- Scheduling, going to, and managing doctor’s appointments
- Managing medication regimens and adherence, including administering meds at appropriate times, monitoring side effects, and communicating with healthcare professionals about current medications
- Providing wound care and medical treatment
- Transporting senior family members to events, activities, and appointments
- Managing the household like cooking, cleaning, running errands, and doing household tasks
- Handling home maintenance and home modifications
- Providing emotional support and companionship
- Encouraging seniors to stay engaged in communities and hobbies and arranging social events
- Communicating with family members
- Advocating for the senior with healthcare providers, insurance companies, assistance programs, senior services, and more
- Coordinating appointments, claims, finances, medical bills, support services, and more
There are a lot of responsibilities of a caregiver. For family caregivers, these roles can often feel overwhelming and challenging. That’s why many people choose to incorporate multiple different types of caregivers into their care plan, like family members teaming up with professional caregivers and GoGoGrandparent support services to create a cohesive care team.
1. Family caregiving
Family caregivers are one of the most common types of caregivers for the elderly. This type of caregiving is when spouses, children, or relatives assume the responsibility of caring for an aging loved one. This informal or formal type of caregiving can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be challenging on a regular, full-time basis.
Pros of family caregiving
1. In-home care: One of the greatest advantages of family caregiving is that it allows seniors to remain in the comfort of their own homes. This can create a sense of stability and normalcy, which is particularly important for those seniors with cognitive concerns.
2. Emotional support: Family caregivers often offer companionship, empathy, and understanding that professional caregivers may not, simply because they are your family. This can help seniors stay connected to their loved ones while offering a high level of necessary support.
3. Familiarity: Family caregiving often allows for a more intimate understanding of their loved one’s needs and preferences. This means they can help provide personalized, in-depth support that a third party may be unable to offer. Moreover, many seniors may be resistant to receiving care from strangers, so having the familiarity of a family member, at least part-time, can be helpful.
4. Relationships: A family caregiver will often find that it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of their life. “Giving back” to someone who gave so much to you can be life-changing for you and your family member. This can build your relationship in new, profound, and beautiful ways.
5. Lower cost: Hiring professional caregivers in-home or in a facility can be expensive. Family caregiving is not a “free” type of caregiving, but it can often be accomplished successfully at a lower cost than other types of caregiving.
Cons of family caregiving
1. Burnout and stress: Family caregivers often find caring for an elderly relative emotionally and physically demanding. Stress, burnout, and exhaustion are not uncommon side effects of all the responsibilities of a caregiver. To avoid this, investigate respite care programs, consider hiring part-time help, and leverage GoGoGrandparent as part of your caregiving team.
2. Limited expertise: You probably have a good sense of your loved one’s needs and preferences, but you may not be as experienced as licensed, trained professional caregivers. Family caregiving can be particularly challenging for seniors with complex medical conditions, who may require specialized care and healthcare support.
3. Limited flexibility: Family caregivers likely have other responsibilities and commitments like work, children, and social activities. This can limit the ability to provide flexible, consistent care for an elderly family member. The best way to handle this is to hire part-time help or add GoGoGrandparent as an extension of your care team.
4. Family dynamics: No matter how much you love your parent or family member, family caregiving can add tension and stress to a relationship. Your loved one may feel like a burden, and caregivers may experience guilt or resentment if they feel they can’t fully and adequately provide different types of caregiving.
How to make family caregiving work for your family
Family caregiving can be the best caregiving style for a lot of families. Here are some tips on how to make family caregiving work for you.
- Consider respite care support, which allows family caregivers to take time off while effectively meeting their loved one’s needs.
- Consider hiring part-time professional help. This can give you the benefits of professional care and family caregiving.
- Practice self-care. As a caregiver, don’t neglect your own needs. Remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup.
- Join a support group for family caregivers or consider a professional therapist to ensure your own emotional and physical needs are met.
- Look into insurance options and financial assistance programs to help with the cost of family caregiving that you may not have considered before, like home modifications, cost of medications, additional nurses, etc.
- Register for GoGoGrandparent to help take care of your loved one. GoGo offers rides, grocery delivery, healthy takeout delivery, medication delivery, and home professional services – all protected and screened by our GoGoGuardians. This takes a lot of the burdens of caregiving off your plate, so you feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
Family caregiving is the best caregiving style for many families, but it’s not suitable for everyone. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of caregivers that may be a better fit.
2. Professional in-home caregivers
Professional caregivers are trained individuals who provide a variety of services to seniors. The three types of certifications for professional caregivers include nursing assistants (CNAs), home health aides (HHAs), and personal care aides (PCAs). Depending on their certification and history, a professional caregiver can provide everything from transportation and daily needs to more complex medical care and support.
There are different types of caregivers for professional services.
- Independent caregivers are hired directly through the family and do not have an affiliation with a caregiving agency
- Private duty caregivers (also often referred to as home health aides) work through a home care agency or individually; they may be able to provide medical, nursing, cleaning, home and transportation services
- Care agencies assign one or more caregivers with a variety of skills and certifications
Pros of professional caregivers
1. Training and expertise: The most significant advantage of professional caregiving is the quality of care. These caregivers are trained and licensed in elder care. Many are also trained to manage complex medical needs, administer medications, and assist with physically exhaustive activities. This level of training isn’t feasible for many family caregivers.
2. Reliability: Professional caregivers are paid to do this job. They work on set schedules and routines. This can be important for those seniors who require consistent, round-the-clock care.
3. Less burnout: Professional caregivers are less likely to experience burnout or stress from the responsibilities of a caregiver. They have a network of support and are often given respite care as part of their job.
4. Peace of mind: You can feel confident that your family member receives high-quality support from a trained, experienced professional. This can give you more time to focus on building your relationship with your loved one and meeting their emotional and social needs rather than focusing on day-to-day care.
Cons of professional caregivers
1. Cost: Professional caregiving can be expensive, especially for seniors who require complex medical care. This is generally the biggest barrier to entry for a lot of families. To offset these costs, you can consider financial assistance programs and/or hire professional caregivers part-time or for respite care.
2. Lack of familiarity: Professional caregivers will learn about your loved one’s needs, but there can be a learning curve initially when learning the specific responsibilities of a caregiver for your loved one. Some seniors who are more resistant to change might find this transitional period upsetting.
3. Lack of flexibility: Professional caregivers work on a set schedule. Unless it is built into the care plan, the caregiver may not have flexibility in their schedule to provide additional support, emergency help, or more customized plans.
4. Reliability: This is both a pro and con on this list. While most professional caregivers are reliable, like any kind of employment, people will call in sick to work, run late, or not show up. Dealing with reputable types of caregiving agencies can help reduce these concerns, as they will provide stand-in or replacement caregivers if needed.
Pairing professional caregiving with GoGoGrandparent
Many of GoGo’s registered members have part-time or full-time professional caregivers. Family members often use GoGoGrandparent to give their loved ones additional independence and security alongside their caregiver. For example, if you have a home health aide who doesn’t drive, GoGo Rides can take your family member and their caregiver where they need to go. Or if the caregiver doesn’t know how to cook heart-healthy meals, GoGoGourmet can deliver healthy takeout.
GoGoGrandparent is a great way to streamline the caregiver’s job while filling in any gaps in the responsibilities of a caregiver.
3. Virtual caregivers
Virtual caregivers or tele-caregivers are becoming more popular in today’s Zoom era. These professional caregivers deliver support remotely through technology like video calls and monitoring devices. The responsibilities of a caregiver remotely can include medication management, monitoring of vital signs, and virtual companionship. Virtual caregiving may also refer to technologies like medication monitoring phone apps.
GoGoGrandparent is often considered a virtual caregiver because our GoGoGuardians use technology to provide top-notch care. Our members call our phone number, and our friendly operators can help them with various services like rides, groceries, takeout, medications, and home professional services.
Pros of virtual caregiving
1. Convenience: This is one of the best caregiving styles for those seniors who are still living independently but require extra assistance. Seniors can receive care right from the comfort of their homes. This is particularly important for those who live in remote areas, have limited mobility, or prefer to age in place at home.
2. Personalized care: Like different types of caregiving, virtual caregivers help create a personalized care plan to meet your loved one’s individual needs and preferences. This can include coming up with solutions for daily activities like bathing and dressing, medication management, medical bills and finances, and more. For example, many people use GoGoGrandparent for transportation when they can no longer drive safely.
3. Cost-effective: Virtual caregiving can be less expensive than an in-home professional caregiver or an assisted living facility. This is a great option for those seniors looking for additional help but wanting to keep their expenses low.
4. Connection: Virtual caregivers can work directly with family caregivers to keep them informed about their loved one’s health and well-being. For example, GoGoGrandparent offers a Family Dashboard where family members can monitor their loved one’s rides, deliveries, and services. Family members can even pay for these services right through the app.
Cons of virtual caregiving
1. Limited physical presence: Virtual caregivers are not physically present in the home, which makes it difficult to provide hands-on assistance. That means it’s likely not the right choice for those seniors with mobility issues or requiring in-depth or round-the-clock care.
2. Limited social interaction: Tele-caregiving doesn’t provide the same level of social interaction and emotional support as different types of caregiving, like family or in-person professional care. Seniors might miss the companionship that comes with face-to-face interactions. If using a virtual caregiver for primary caregiving, it’s important to encourage your loved one to stay active in their local community as well.
3. Technical difficulties: Virtual caregiving relies on technology. That means internet connectivity issues, device malfunctions, or router interruptions can disrupt care. Moreover, some seniors might find these technologies difficult or cumbersome to navigate. (That’s why GoGoGrandparent uses a dial-in service. Most seniors are comfortable using the telephone to order their rides and deliveries.)
4. Limited emergency response: Virtual caregivers may not be the best caregiving style if you’re worried about emergencies. No one is physically present to help if there is a medical emergency, which can result in delays in receiving medical attention unless there are other people in the home.
5. Nursing home caregiving
Nursing homes are one of the different types of caregivers for those seniors who require more intensive care. Nursing homes provide 24-hour care from experienced, trained professionals like nurses, aides, and healthcare professionals.
Pros of nursing home caregiving
1. Experienced care: Nursing homes employ healthcare professionals like nurses and physicians who can manage complex medical conditions. If your loved one requires specialized care, a full-time nursing home staff might be the best caregiving style to address their needs.
2. Social interaction: Nursing homes provide opportunities for seniors to interact with other residents through social activities and programs. This is a great way to prevent isolation and loneliness, which is critical to senior health.
3. Safety: Nursing homes have staff available around the clock. That means there are always people available to assist with emergencies and tend to the security of the residents.
4. Resources: Nursing homes generally offer a range of resources that your loved one would otherwise have to travel to and pay for separately. This could include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, mobility programs, hobby classes, and more.
Cons of nursing home caregiving
1. Loss of independence: Residents usually must adhere to the nursing home’s schedules, routines, and rules. This can result in a loss of independence and control, which may frustrate some older adults.
2. Expensive: Nursing homes can be costly. The cost can vary widely based on the level of care, location, offered services, and more. We recommend doing a cost-benefit analysis using concrete examples in your town.
3. Quality of care: Most nursing homes are safe and reliable. However, some facilities have substandard care or do not effectively meet the needs of their residents. Before deciding, carefully research your local nursing homes to select a facility with a strong reputation for quality care. You can even interview current residents about their experience or look for recommendations with your friends.
4. Lack of personalization: Nursing homes may not provide the same level of personalized care as in-home professionals or family caregivers. In some homes, seniors feel like “just another patient” and don’t get the attention they may require for their care.
5. Assisted living facility caregiving
Assisted living facilities are residential communities designed for older adults who require some assistance but do not need the intensive medical care provided by nursing homes. This can be the best caregiving style if your family member does not have extensive medical needs, requires mild to moderate help, and wants to live in a community setting.
Learn more with our article: What is Home Care vs Assisted Living?
Pros of assisted living facility caregiving
1: Socialization: Assisted living facilities offer opportunities for socialization and engagement that are harder to get when living alone. These facilities often have organized activities, social events, hobby and exercise classes, and outings that help seniors maintain social connections. This feeling of connectedness is vital to avoiding loneliness and isolation.
2. Safety: Like nursing homes, assisted living facilities usually have staff available 24/7 in case of emergency. These facilities also have safety features like handrails, non-slip floors, and emergency response systems.
3. Independence: Although these facilities assist with daily activities like bathing and medication management, seniors still maintain much of their independence. Many of our GoGo members live in assisted living facilities and use our transportation features to maintain their routines and lifestyles.
Cons of assisted living facility caregiving
1. Limited privacy: Although seniors may have more independence, assisted living caregiving occurs in a communal setting. This can limit privacy, especially when sharing living spaces and common areas. Some assisted living centers also have rigorous schedules and activities, so seniors may not have total control over their own routines. When choosing the best caregiving style for your loved one, you’ll want to balance the need for independence with the need for aid and social interaction.
2. Cost: Some assisted living facilities are expensive. Depending on the type of caregiving required, these can be just as pricey as nursing homes or full-time, live-in care.
3. Limited medical care: This may not be the best caregiving style for those adults who require intensive medical care. Although assisted living facilities have professionally trained staff, they are usually not certified nurses or physicians that can offer medical support.
4. Quality of care: The quality of assisted living facilities can vary widely depending on the facility. Before choosing a facility for your loved one, research to ensure it’s the best caregiving style and option for your family.
Which is the best caregiving style?
There’s no “right” or best caregiving style. You must weigh the pros and cons of the different types of caregiving to make the right decision for you and your family. Different types of caregivers have their own benefits, advantages, and drawbacks, so you’ll need to consider your family’s needs and preferences. With the right type of caregiving, you can feel confident that your loved one can age in place with dignity, comfort, and safety.
There are many responsibilities of a caregiver, so use GoGoGrandparent to lighten the load for family caregiving or professional in-home caregivers. GoGo offers help with transportation, food delivery, medication delivery, and home services like handymen, laundry services, dog walkers, and more. GoGoGrandparent is one of the best types of caregiving to help provide the highest level of care and support to your loved one.
Register with GoGoGrandparent to start caring for your loved one today.