There is a lot that comes with being a caregiver. There are many hats to be worn, and each of them is essential when it comes to assisting seniors.

Taking on a caregiver position is a job within a job within another job if one is to be a good caregiver.

On the one essential side, caregivers need to be knowledgeable about the needed personal care or activities of daily living (ADLs) that come with working with a client.

These are activities that every human needs to have accomplished daily, including eating, bathing, toileting, dressing oneself and the like.

A caregiver must be skilled in preparing meals, medication reminders, bathing, transferring, light housekeeping – and the list goes on, depending on each client’s needs and requests.

All those requirements are exceptionally important within the field of home care. They need to be done with patience, trust, kindness, privacy and professionalism.

On the other essential side, caregivers need to be compassionate listeners. They need to be mentally engaged with their client. Going through the motions is far from the right way to care for someone in any situation.

Think about it: A caregiver comes into a person’s home and helps the person with his private life. That is a very up close and personal position to be in.

A caregiver assumes the responsibility to take care of a life for the next few hours. If you put your life in someone’s hands, wouldn’t you want to feel safe, as well as happy, to see that person?

Working with a client is not just a “job.” The client is not the “job.” The “job” is what the caregiver does for the client.

A client is a human being who has thoughts, ideas and feelings. A client wants to enjoy the company of her caregiver.

Clients want to have good conversation. They want to be heard. They want to smile and laugh. They want to feel a connection with their caregiver who has become a part of their personal space.

Caregivers must never forget that clients are usually in a position that they are not really happy about. Having to ask for help with things that you used to be able to do with ease is not a favorable action for anyone. It can be a fragile situation that needs positive validation.

And that is where a good caregiver needs to always be mentally engaged with the client’s feelings.

With a compassionate listening ear, a caregiver can make clients not feel as if they don’t have their own voice anymore. A caregiver can make them feel heard, comfortable, liked and cared for.

When a caregiver wears all the essential hats within the job, it becomes second nature and rewarding for both caregiver and client.

An experienced caregiver, Zena Smith holds a master’s degree in Administration of Human Services and is the co-owner of At Your Door home care agency.