Caregivers

Caregivers for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Everyone needs empathetic caregivers - parents, family, teachers, support groups, volunteers - for rightful development to reach one's potential. So does the the persons with blindness and visually impairment, albeit, often in a different way. In this section we have collated information on guidelines, policies, awareness and advocacy initiatives, availability of support groups & services, vision & Braille centers, information for teachers and educators, and manufacturers & distributors for the ease of functioning of the caregivers.

Caregivers and their Roles

Caregivers invest time, money, and emotion helping a friend or loved one manage loss of sight. The support might be as simple as listening but it can become much more, from managing finances and schedule to assisting with all ADL’s. Caregiving is what someone who has lost their sight desires – assistance with things they can no longer readily accomplish but not coddling or “babying”.

While caregiving is noble, it must be borne in mind that most people who have lost their sight don’t want someone hovering over them or cautioning them every time they try something new. Their goal is to live as normal a life as possible and to receive help when required but not be viewed as helpless.

So caregivers need to learn to be attached in a detached manner.

* ADL: Activities for Daily Living

  1. Seek support from services for the blind, services for seniors and from other caregivers.

  2. Take care of your own health so you can be strong enough to care for your loved one.

  3. Build a team of caregivers.

  4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors and service providers.

  5. Caregiving is demanding work so take respite breaks regularly.

  6. Watch out for signs of depression and don’t delay getting professional help when you need it.

  7. Be open to using technologies that can help you care for your loved one.

  8. Organize your care receiver’s personal, legal, financial and medical information so it’s up to date and easy to find. Create a file or notebook; it can be paper or electronic or both.

  9. Make sure the documents to manage your care receiver’s finances are in order.

  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can. Celebrate your successes and accomplishments.

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Qualities of a Caregiver

5 Excellent Qualities of a Caregiver

The following personality qualities help to make choosing a career as a Certified Caregiver easier.

  • Caring Nature

If you find that you often are the person who steps up to soothe and care for others in situations where comfort is needed, then caregiving may be a career that fits you. Nurturing is a definite, encouragement, and soothing are all traits that make an outstanding caregiver.

  • Strength

Being strong willed and able to handle situations that can be difficult is a definite strength needed if you are thinking about being an in-home caregiver. Messy situations, need for controlling situations that may become volatile, and knowing how soothe a person in order to gain control of the situation are all a part of certified caregiving that will give you a sense of pride as you “handle the situations” of the day.

  • Patience

Having the patience to work well in frustrating situations is a definite plus. As a caregiver you will experience both times of resolving patience and times of sheer happiness as you see the difference you make in someone’s life.

  • Empathy

Understanding how a person feels is important in the work of a caregiver. Being able to put yourself in a client’s shoes will enable you to care for them and their family members with an open heart and understanding mind.

  • Reliability

As a caregiver you have one of the most important jobs working with a person who needs assistance. You have to be a reliable resource that takes pride in not only being able to get to work regularly and as scheduled but despite obstacles that may otherwise cause others to simply call off. The people you care for rely on you, often as their only source of outside help and this makes you one of the most important people in their life.

There are several things which parents need to keep in mind while dealing, interacting or educating their kids with special needs.

These are:

  1. Parent of a kid with special needs should build expertise on their kids: Do research and stay updated with new developments in therapies, educational techniques and learn about disability programs. Help your kids to learn and grasp new things.

  2. Do not underrate your understanding for your child: Spend more and more time with your child and learn how he/she interacts and conveys a message to you. It will help in developing better understanding with your kid.

  3. Remember they aren't different than any other parent: Never consider yourself different from other parents and do not compare your child with other kids.

  4. Parenting a child with special needs may sometimes get lonely: Sometimes, parenting a kid with special needs may make you a single parent as your partner might not be ready to take up the responsibility.

  5. Parenting a special needs child can become exhausting: Your kid might demand your attention all the time, especially from mothers. Stay on your toes and learn about the coping strategies, effective for each family unit.

  6. Always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst: Stay hopeful, observe and understand your child's behaviour. Not all days are same days. Some days will be peaceful while some days will be cranky.

  7. Know that God only gives special children to special people and so, you are special: You are gifted with special kid and you have the capacity to put forth your best parenting skills in shaping the life of a child with special needs.

  8. Sometimes you may get defensive for your child but it's completely normal: It is normal to get defensive. Your child needs your defensive shield initially, like every other kid.

  9. The efforts put in nurturing a special needs child are rewarding: You will be delighted to see your child with special needs growing and learning. You will witness how your hard work and efforts paid you well.

  10. Amongst everything, you'll have to take out time to enjoy with your child: Playing and hanging out with them will help them to in learning how to behave in a social setup as well.

  11. Remember, parenting a child will be a hit and trial method, but eventually you'll succeed: You will face several obstacles and many of your methods may fail but at the end you will reap the rewards as you will witness your child's growth.

  12. While it's important to help your child, it's also important to take time out for yourself: Do not let situations consume all of you. Take out time for yourself as well.

  13. Don't compare your child with others as every child is unique in their own way: Comparison might create problems for you and your parenting skills. Accept that every kid is unique.

  14. Build a good relationship with the therapists and the school: Building a healthy relationship with the therapists and the school will help you to track your child's growth as well as shortcomings where you need to work.

  15. Therapies and clinical intervention are a good option to help your child: Staying abreast with the latest therapies will help your child to respond and controls the destructive behaviour of your kid.

  16. Don't believe the myth that therapies are expensive: Consult with several therapists and understand your child's condition. Accordingly, select a therapist after comparing the costs.

  17. Some therapies are provided at an economical fee at the comfort of your home: Consulting several doctors will help you to know about the cost as some therapies are economical and won't burn out your savings.

  18. Feel free to ask for help from your extended family: You can team up with parents of kids with special needs and learn how they help their child in various activities.

  19. Sit and decide tasks for equal division of work among the two parents: Both parents need to sit and divide tasks so that one does not get burdened and can spend time with the kid.

  20. Build a support network with parents of special needs kids: Stay in touch with parents of kids with special needs and build a network. Discuss and learn new skills and techniques, which will be helpful for your child.

As a parent, you have to be strong and adapt new techniques to help your kid with special needs. Grow with them!

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If you are describing someone who cares for something that isn't a person, you should use caretaker in both American and British English. For example, someone who attends the grounds of a cemetery is a caretaker. For someone who cares for a person, use carer in British English and caregiver in American English.

Caregivers vs. Caretakers

Caregivers are not the same as caretakers

You may wonder the difference between “caregiver” and “caretaker.” In some respects, they’re the same person but viewed from very different perspectives. The person who has lost their sight wants a caregiver. The individual helping the person who has lost their sight sometimes sees themselves as caretakers.

This is an important theme and is instructive when you consider how to interact with someone who is blind or visually-impaired. The goal is to make the person feel empowered. It might be best understood by explaining how to offer assistance to someone who is blind or visually-impaired when they are attempting to cross a street, navigate a tight space, or something similar. The temptation is to gently grab the person’s elbow, arm or shoulder. It’s a comfortable move and one we tend to do naturally when walking with a child. The problem is the person we’re helping probably isn’t a child. When you grab their arm, even if gently, you will likely cause one of three reactions, none positive:

  • You give the impression that you see them as helpless (rather than sightless). Something similar happens when people speak more loudly to someone who is visually-impaired. Have you ever heard someone exclaim, “I’m blind, not deaf”?

  • You may startle or anger them, as they’ll perceive that you’re pushing or rushing them.

  • You may also frighten them and even cause them to stumble or fall. When people first lose their sight, the world can be a very scary place.

Ironically, you are not even guiding them in a way that is most comfortable or safe for them.

What’s the right approach? It’s actually very simple…you just ask if they’d like any assistance with whatever task they’re performing. If that task happens to involve walking, then you can also offer an arm for them to hold, which allows you to guide while allowing them to feel in control.

You might do everything correctly and still get a negative reaction, maybe even a viscerally negative reaction. You have to keep in mind that people who are visually-impaired can still have bad days. You may think, “Maybe someone else just approached them the wrong way.” Have you ever heard the expression, “killing me with kindness”? The person, you may believe, wants to be left alone (even if help might be useful). At this point, you can just politely say, “I’m sorry” and move on. If you feel the person is in a potential dangerous situation, then you can remain nearby and possibly alert the person to an impending hazard.

My last thought for this section is focused on the caretaker/giver. Helping a friend or family member recover from loss of sight is challenging, yet you don’t want to complain as the person you’re helping has far more challenge. This issue arises in any caregiving setting. You can help best if you maintain your own energy and positive attitude. Remember to set aside time for yourself – it’s not just ok; it’s essential to being the best possible caregiver.

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