The winter holidays always carry a symbolic meaning of family, togetherness, and helping each other. People go back to visit their hometowns and spend time with their loved ones. It is the time we look forward to and gladly reminisce after many years. However, many of us don’t have that luxury. Many are either unable to leave home due to medical issues or have no family members. As much as we want to spend our time with our families, what better time to give back than for the holidays?
What Is A Caregiver?
If an elderly person is having medical difficulties, both mental or physical, they need assistance with daily tasks. A senior may be unable to walk, has trouble with dementia, or just needs company from time to time, so they don’t feel alone. There are many complex circumstances that make them feel left out and sometimes even afraid. A person who would take care of them part-time or would be fully devoted to them can be two different types of caregivers – a paid professional and a volunteer. Volunteering as a caregiver is not the same as taking this obligation as a professional. Certified professionals are already in the know with all their tasks and various approaches to work. A volunteer, on the other hand, is just that – someone who wants to help someone physically and emotionally but has no educational background.
Responsibilities Of A Volunteer Caregiver
Having certain skills is very much welcome especially when they need daily assistance such as feeding, bathing, transportation, and others. If you want to be prepared as much as possible, do research and learn before deciding to take responsibility for an elderly person. They have to fully rely on you so consider proper training and certifications. If you plan on helping others in the long run, take up caregiving training such as certified nursing assistant (CNA). However, a legitimate certification in CPR and First Aid is a good start and makes a difference in emergencies. Training such as this one can be attended online, so you can be flexible with your time.
Seniors who don’t have any medical issues also need our help. If they have no one to turn to for simple daily errands or for pure company, volunteers from their community take the role of a friend. Here the tasks would be running errands, walking, medication reminders, chatting, playing board games, and so on. Their mental health is equally important, so doing all these activities improves their cognitive function and their mood. Also, there are many cases where the elderly person became a significant part of a volunteer’s life. After some time spent together and sharing stories, caregivers consider them family and include them in important milestones.
Benefits Of Volunteer Caregiving
Firstly and most importantly, the main reason you should be volunteering is helping a senior in need. They will be thrilled to have you as a caregiver but also as a friend. On the other hand, there are a lot of advantages for the caregiver as well.
You will develop social skills and increase your self-esteem which will work for you later, both in your private life and career. When you look after someone, you may realize you should be caring for yourself more and start prioritizing what is important to you. The amazing feeling of purpose shakes you up and shows you what life is all about – being good to yourself and helping others.
We are caught up in the day-to-day tasks, work, school, and fast-paced life. The amount of stress nowadays is immeasurable and it takes a toll on our health. Working as a volunteer caregiver, you clock off from your problems and leave everything behind you, even just for an hour. You focus on the person you are taking care of and make sure your time together is well spent. Through different activities such as a simple walk and a conversation can significantly reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and bring your mind and body into a peaceful state.
If this is new to you and you want to contribute, start step by step. Go to your local volunteer community. They will introduce you to all the possibilities and how you should start. You’ll meet members who can tell you their background and how it has changed their lives. The experience will benefit both the volunteer and the senior person. With these programs, you’ll be able to help many elderly people this holiday season. The feeling of having someone to call whenever they need assistance or a chat makes them feel safe, welcomed, and important. It is good to know someone thinks you are a reliable, kind, and giving person.