Being a caregiver is not an easy task, no matter the needs or level of dependence of the individual receiving care. While taking care of one’s own personal needs is more or less automatic most of the time, switching gears and caring for someone else is not. Putting someone else’s needs before yours isn’t always easy or fun, but coupled with the knowledge that you made someone’s life easier and better, can be incredibly rewarding.
Devoting most of your time to the care of someone else is one of the most selfless things someone can do, but it’s not only about the time involved. Being able to understand the person you’re caring for, knowing their problems, challenges and desires will not only make it easier to care for them, but will undoubtedly improve the relationship you have with each other. Empathy is a big aspect of that, and being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and be empathetic will only increase the quality of care you’re providing.
Rarely is there a day in which everything goes exactly according to plan, and it’s no different in caregiving situations. When plans change, appointments get cancelled or new routines come into play, it’s crucial that a caregiver can bounce back, either rescheduling or creating a new plan, so the entire day isn’t ruined. Depending how dependent the caregiving relationship is, it would range from impractical to detrimental for both members of the relationship to panic at the same time. In order to carry out caregiver duties in the most effective and efficient manner, a caregiver needs to be able to keep calm during any problem or crisis.
Many facets play into being patient as a caregiver. It means slowing down and rethinking ways to communicate, the best way to provide care, and in the end, simply staying calm and present for whomever you’re providing care. Putting yourself second isn’t natural and might be challenging, but as a caregiver, that’s your job. It might take reminding yourself throughout the day about what you’re doing and providing for this person, because sometimes staying aware and present is the key to patience.
As instrumental as caregivers are, communication is key. It can be something as simple as going through the day’s schedule, or complicated as discussing health concerns, but no matter what it is, it must be done well. Subpar communication will do nothing beneficial for the relationship, and in fact, could damage it. Furthermore, as it’s likely there’s more than one caregiver in the individual’s life, and because of all the moving parts, communication is key to get information to all the relevant parties. Whether it’s relaying health information or just remaining congenial, communication between caregivers is important, second only to communicating with the individual.
Like with any job, approaching it with positivity and confidence is only going to make it more enjoyable for everyone. Not only will having confidence make you better at your job, but it’ll make it easier. Everyone will notice a positive attitude, and as positive attitudes seem to do, it’ll affect and spread to everyone you come in contact with. When you’re happier, the quality of care you’ll provide will be substantially better than the care of someone bored, unhappy or angry with their job. Lastly, everyone’s lives will be made easier when everyone has a positive outlook.
Being a caregiver isn’t easy, but at the end of the day, it can be hugely rewarding knowing that you’ve helped make someone’s life easier and better. Consistently being there for someone else will foster a remarkably strong relationship, based on trust and friendship, and keeping these five characteristics in mind will make your caregiving experience that much better.