classical music

Ava has shared her experience as a professional caregiver with The Caregiver Space before. To see her first post click here. Ava is a caregiver for C, a woman with Alzheimer’s who lives with her daughter.

How has C been this past week?

Ava: I’ve noticed that C has more stamina and is getting stronger. Lately, I’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on getting her outside and walking around—if she’s up to it. I feel good about that. We have great times together—I try to make her laugh as much as possible. We’ll be talking about pleasant things and sometimes topics come up that I turn to jokes and a little harmless gossip helps her engage. I treat her as a friend. It brings me joy to know she wants me to stay all of the time.

How did you prepare for life as a caregiver?

A: I feel I was raised to be good caregiver. In Hungary, when I was growing up, families lived together with the elderly. Back then families took care of each other and the generations got used to one another. Our grandparents took care of us when we were younger so we take care of them as we get older.

With C, I try and respect her privacy as much as possible. If she wants to be alone in the bathroom, who’s to blame her. I just see myself at that age and I completely understand, I wouldn’t want anyone else in there. If she wants me to go in and help her I will and she almost always does. I stay at the door so I can hear her and stay in communication with her, ask her how she’s doing. It makes her feel better to have that little bit of independence. It helps with a general sense of well-being because I think the emotional toll of being treated as completely dependent can hurt the recovery process.

What helps make you a good caregiver?

A: The key to my caregiving journey is empathy—over the years it has gotten stronger and more significant in my life. When I was a child I saw my mother reacting empathetically to circumstances and I felt the same way but in school and in other environments I didn’t see that same level of empathy. There was much less. But since I’m getting older it’s more significant because I know I can make more of a difference with empathy. I am in touch with myself more and my experience—that helps me to grow. Empathy is important in caregiving. I try to make a distinction between my ego and what is best for my patient. I had to develop patience and not just react immediately to what is around me. In that way, self-knowledge protects us.

Anything exciting coming up for you?

A: Yes, actually! The next time I perform at a concert I’m planning to pick C up and take her since we both share a love of classical music. That will give her daughter the night off and something C will enjoy very much.

Written by Alexandra Axel
Alexandra Axel was the first founding staff member at The Caregiver Space. As a New York native, Allie grew up people-watching and story-collecting, eventually pursuing her undergraduate degree from The College of New Jersey in sociology and creative writing. At The Caregiver Space, she worked with social media, graphic design, blogging, and program development to brand and grow an online community composed of, and focused on, caregivers. From the seedlings of an idea to the thriving community that it is today, Allie was there from the beginning to support the evolution of The Caregiver Space. Allie enjoys writing poetry and short fiction, devouring books, biking, crafting, urban agriculture and imperfectly cooking. She currently resides in Brooklyn with her pup, Hen.

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