“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” ~ Rosalyn Carter
This month Alaka’i Associates recognizes and celebrates all that caregivers bring to our lives. Often overlooked are the traits of a caregiver, whether it be in celebrating what we have already done or learning to build new skills. As you read through this list take note of what you have accomplished and where you may need support. We are all in this together.
In Good Health: Taking care of your health might be the most important quality of a good caregiver. It’s important to eat well, get enough sleep, and get regular exercise. Making and keeping your own doctor appointments is also key. And a good caregiver finds time to do something they enjoy. You can’t take care of others well if you don’t take care of yourself.
Compassion: Empathy and understanding are absolutely necessary. Even when they are caring for an abusive person, caregivers try to find balance and understanding.
Patience: People who need care often take longer to complete simple tasks. As a caregiver, you might have to answer questions over and over. Good caregivers need patience to deal with anything from a loved one’s memory lapses to angry outbursts. They practice staying calm and avoiding frustration.
Being Present: Good caregivers know the importance of respecting their loved one’s current abilities. Rather than focus on what your loved one can no longer do, be in the moment with them. Look at photos, listen to music, cook a favorite meal. At the same time, remember that they weren’t always sick.
Humor: Finding something to laugh about can make a tough situation bearable. A sense of humor keeps a caregiver emotionally strong and is a great stress buster.
Cooperative: A good caregiver is part of a care team that may include doctors, family, and friends. Being understanding and flexible goes a long way toward being a successful team player.
Assertive: Good caregivers advocate for their loved ones. They ask questions and expect answers. Good caregivers learn about their loved one’s condition, and they make sure their loved one gets the care they need.
Willing to Set Boundaries: Respecting your limits, and saying no to demands, is an important trait.
Fit: Caregivers may make several trips up and down stairs every day. Others need to help their loved one move from bed to chair. Helping with these transfers can cause injury. Being strong isn’t always enough to avoid hurting yourself. Caregivers need to know how to manage these chores safely (or get help).
Able to Accept Help: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. A good caregiver realizes they can’t do it all alone. They line up friends, family, or professionals to step in when they need a break.
Pause right here and give yourself a hug, pat on the back, and take a deep breath before you resume your caregiving duties.
If you need additional wellness support reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org