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Providing Senior Care for a Friend or Neighbor

by Richard Bitner
Providing Senior Care for a Friend or Neighbor

As the general population grows older, more and more seniors require at-home care. For the majority of seniors, that care comes from family members — their spouses, children, and grandchildren. In other cases, it comes from professional caregivers. But for some seniors it comes from friends and neighbors. Providing Senior Care for a Friend or Neighbor
According to data from the AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, 1 in 10 seniors who receives at-home care considers a friend or neighbor their primary caregiver. This can happen for a number of reasons, but it most often occurs either because family members live too far away to help or because a senior is without immediate family to care for them. Providing Senior Care for a Friend or Neighbor
Some friends are close enough or comfortable enough with one another that care comes naturally. But in many cases, the transition from a friendship to a care-focused relationship can create challenges for both parties. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common challenges when friends become caregivers and how seniors — whether they’re receiving care or providing it — can manage those concerns.

Coordinating with Family

When you’re the primary caregiver for a friend or neighbor, one of the biggest challenges can be coordinating care with that person’s family. You may find that your friend/neighbor’s family members are quick to ignore your input when it comes to care decisions. In other cases, you might find that their family members take your assistance for granted, assuming you’re always available or willing to take on any responsibility they see fit.
One way to avoid these problems is to develop lines of communication early between yourself and your friend/neighbor’s family members. Let your friend or neighbor know that you’d like to exchange contact info with their family members and introduce yourself as a precaution in case of a future emergency. A quick call or email will allow you to introduce yourself, explain your relationship with the care recipient, and outline how you are becoming involved in their care. This can help open avenues of communication, making it easier to coordinate care with family members and reduce the likelihood of conflicts down the road.

Managing the Comfort Zone

Depending on the situation, becoming a caregiver for someone can push you far out of your comfort zone. That’s particularly true if you are caring for a non-family member like a friend or neighbor. If the care recipient requires assistance with personal tasks, such as dressing, bathing, or going to the bathroom, you might find these aspects of care unsettling or uncomfortable to perform.
While you shouldn’t force yourself to perform tasks that violate your personal boundaries, allowing your sense of compassion to overrule your sense of discomfort ensures that your friend or neighbor receives help that he or she truly needs. Remember that if you feel hesitant performing a task, it’s unlikely that your friend or neighbor would be asking for help if they did not absolutely need it.
If you find that the care your friend or neighbor requires has become too much for you to handle or you simply can’t get comfortable with some of the tasks required for care, it may be time to consider bringing in help from a professional caregiver. At home care agencies, like Visiting Angels, can provide assistance with a wide range of non-medical tasks and offer respite care that helps the caregiver find relief.

Medical Obstacles

One of the biggest challenges as a caregiver for a friend or neighbor can be managing the health care system. While family members have certain privileges when it comes to medical information and medical records, friends and neighbors have no such privileges. This can make it difficult to manage care for a friend or neighbor if that person suffers a major medical episode, such as a fall, stroke, or heart attack.
A simple way to remove this obstacle in advance is to have the care recipient sign an authorization that allows you to access medical information and — if needed — make medical decisions on his or her behalf. If you live in a state governed by the CARE Act, you can also have yourself listed as a person’s primary caregiver. This way, you’ll be automatically notified when the person is discharged from the hospital.
Do you have a friend, neighbor, or relative who requires at-home senior care? If so, your local Visiting Angels can help. Call your local office today to schedule a no-cost care needs assessment.

Providing Senior Care for a Friend or Neighbor

Providing Senior Care for a Friend or Neighbor


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