There is an amazing amount of pressure on family caregivers who are doing all they can to look after senior parents. They are juggling their time between careers and children and their aging parents the best they can. Perhaps there just might be an answer to help solve the problem. Senior citizens and a unique caregiver strategy might make life easier for all concerned.
Dementia is especially difficult for caregivers to deal with and it can be very physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding.
MILLIONS OF SINGLE SENIORS ARE LIVING ON THEIR OWN
In the USA there are about 13 million seniors living on their own. In Canada, there is about another five million in the same predicament. Hiring a professional caregiver is out of the question for many because of the cost involved.
The cost of senior facilities is continually increasing and many seniors simply can’t afford it and are doing all they can to age in place in the family home.
The thought process is that every year they can spend in their own home is money saved.
When there is no other choice but to move out of their home, at least they have cut back on the number of years they have to spend on the senior assisted living facility.
It works well to age in place if they are in good health, but as they grow older issues can arise that make fending for themselves very difficult. A family caregiver does all they can, but there are limits to how much time they can spend away from their other responsibilities.
So what are families to do?
A POSSIBLE CAREGIVER SOLUTION
There are many college and university students that struggle with living accommodations while they are trying to improve their education and earn degrees that will help them when the day comes that they join the workforce.
They are going to school far from home and it’s often a struggle financially for the students and their parents to cover the cost of dorm living.
What if students were able to act as caregivers for seniors living on their own? In return, they would not be paid but would have free accommodation.
With the price of housing and rental options escalating across North America, this seems like it could be a win-win situation.
It’s almost like an untapped resource that could make a huge difference in the lives of seniors, students, and family caregivers. If the students shared the duties with family caregivers it would take a huge amount of the workload off of the adult children of the senior.
FINDING THE RIGHT STUDENT CAREGIVERS
There are many students who are instinctive caregivers. It’s something they would love to do.
What if a call was put out for students in nursing classes for instance to be caregivers for lonely, single seniors? In many ways, it would be an extension of their school instruction. It would almost be like learning how to nurse before you actually become a nurse.
That’s not to say that students studying other fields would not be excellent caregivers, but nursing students would seem to be an obvious first choice.
HELPING WITH EVERYDAY TASKS
Students could help the senior by housekeeping, cooking, yard work and shopping. If a student drives, they could also take a senior to doctors appointments when necessary. Often these are tasks that family caregivers have to do.
This would free up a lot of time for the family caregivers who could begin to concentrate on raising their own family. If they had to fill in when the student caregiver couldn’t be there it would still be a huge plus to have a lot of the hours and tasks filled in by the student.
Apart from the menial tasks, just having a student there for a company would be amazing for single seniors who are sequestered in their homes with little in the way of social contact.
Then there is the matter of safety. Recently, there was a senior lady who fell in her kitchen and broke her hip. She lay there for three days before she was found. There is no way this could happen if there was someone there on a daily basis.
THE VETTING PROCESS FOR STUDENT CAREGIVERS
Of course, you can’t just let any student more into your parent’s house. There would have to be interviews and vetting by family members to ensure the student fully understood what would be required of them.
You don’t want a student that will call all their college friends to come over for a party. Even worse, you don’t want a student who might steal or be cruel to a senior.
That’s why it would be important to find students who are natural caregivers and perhaps are one day planning on going into that line of work once they are finished school. Maybe they want to be a nurse or a social worker one day. If that’s the case, they would most likely be excellent caregivers.
It would also be an exceptional hands-on learning opportunity for them.
Better still, it would be a beneficial life experience to include in a job resume’. It could make all the difference in landing a great job if they can say they spent time acting as a caregiver for a senior. That would be sure to impress a prospective employer.
WHY NOT GIVE IT A TRY?
In the event I was a caregiver who was struggling to find the time to take care of an elderly parent I would certainly entertain this idea as an option.
If I lived in a college or University town it might just be an excellent decision to put an ad out in the local or college newspaper stipulating exactly what you are looking for.
Keep in mind that there are also caregiver schools. This could be a goldmine of opportunity if there is such a learning institution in your city or town.
There are also caregiver training programs for students coming to North America specifically for that reason. They want to be caregivers for children or elderly people.
Just think what a difference it would make if you happened to interview the perfect student who was all for caring for your elderly parent while at the same time greatly reducing college living expenses.
What would you have to lose by agreeing to a one-month trial period so everyone could see how things worked out? It’s quite possible that it could be the perfect situation for everyone involved.
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