There are many ways to be a family caregiver. Most people think of the traditional physical caregiving when the term “family caregiver” is used. However, there are other types of caregiving roles that family members can have– besides being the one who assists with activities of daily living. One of those is the Caretaking or Maintenance Caregiver.
The great majority of people responsible for the care of their elders are women. Adult daughters, granddaughters, nieces, daughters-in-law and sisters are usually the go-to folks for providing care to their aging family members. Most of these women caregivers provide in-the-home assistance or oversee paid caregivers who do.
But this doesn’t have to be the only way to be a caregiver, especially when it comes to finding a role for all the family members in eldercare. I always ask my audience members to say out loud with me “Everyone has a Role to play in eldercare!” Indeed, we can all contribute to the team in some way.
A role for “handy” family members is the Caretaking Caregiver. This is a wonderful role for the family members who enjoy lawn and garden work, DIY projects and mechanical repair.
Elders often need help with home and vehicle maintenance. Following are tasks that are done around the home and yard that elders can no longer do easily or without assistance:
- Lawn mowing and edging
- Gardening, weeding, planting annuals and digging in flower beds
- Moving plants in/out for winter or spring season
- Taking screens on/off for the season, including storm door inserts
- Window washing
- Deck maintenance, including power washing, re-staining and repair of loose or warped boards
- Cleaning gutters
- Painting, both inside and out
- Replacing batteries in smoke detectors
- Cleaning and repairing grout
- Plumbing repairs
- Changing light bulbs
- Repairing electrical appliances
- Spring cleaning – fridges, floors, inside window cleaning
- Carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning or repair
- Changing the oil, air filter or other basic car maintenance
- Washing the car
Elders still need these tasks done. They still appreciate a clean house. They just might not have the health or energy to do these tasks and/or might not be able to see that they need to be done.
Many of these items need to be done on any property, regardless of whether your elder owns or rents their residence.
If your elder still owns their home, a bonus to having these tasks done regularly is maintaining the value of the house and property. How many of you have been to a home shown by a realtor that hadn’t had any maintenance done in years? Leaving these tasks undone whittles away at what is usually the elder’s largest asset – their residence.
If someone in your family can be the Caretaking Caregiver, it frees up funds that can be used for other things, including aides and other paid caregivers.
Most often I find that many family members don’t know what to offer to do, so they don’t offer at all.
At the next family gathering, ask who might be interested in these tasks and let them know how much their work means to both the elder and the other members of the family.
A Caretaking Caregiver is a HUGE part of the team of family caregivers (it could even be a friend too). I’m sure there’s one in your family just waiting to be nudged into action!