'Be anxious for nothing..." ~Philippians 4:6

Saturday, March 25, 2017

CAREGIVER DIARIES

Caregivers do a lot in a day. They take multitasking to dizzying heights, and develop skill sets they, perhaps didn't know they had. Studying people may be one of them.

In the interest of a loved one who desires to remain in his or her own home, a caregiver's discernment becomes keen. Give care for any period of time, and it is easy to see where each person stands in the life of the aged or ailing person. You will know who the real friends are, and who they aren't. Those real friends are like angels.

When you see some people drive up, or see their names on the caller ID you're either relieved and happy, or disgusted and annoyed. Don't fret, though. As time passes, like snow, eventually, those whose presence has never truly been authentic, will slowly disappear, while others step up to the plate and consistently swing. To some, aged and ailing people translate "hard work". People who used to declare how they'd be there through thick and thin, suddenly thin out when health fails, eyes dim, and steps become slow. 

As a caregiver, you quickly learn who the genuine people are in the life of your loved one. You find out who demonstrates concern and faithfulness, as opposed to nosiness and opportunistic tendencies. Some people are good at phoning. That is is no way a criticism, unless of course, the topic of their conversations are consistently morbid, divisive, critical, antagonistic, or counterproductive. Some people phone to interrogate. Others phone to cheer and encourage. Ailing and aged individuals need contact; they need good, pleasant conversation that keeps them engaged. Some people are adept at that. You can tell by the mood of your loved one when certain calls end. 

Other people are good at showing up. Yes, they have responsibilities of their own, but they make time for their aging or ailing friends. Before they show up, they call. They even ask if you need anything. They ask how you are. They're not too familiar. They are respectful of your presence and position. They don't treat you like some peon or slave. They understand the gravity and necessity of your presence. They are a friend of your loved one, and don't dare assume that means they are an instant friend of yours. But by virtue of their friendship; by virtue of the fact that you are caring for their friend, they in turn, are concerned about you and your well-being. You can't help but appreciate a person like that. You're not surprised when you begin to call them friend, too...and thank God for their attentiveness and kindness...and hope He blesses them and their loved ones.

Helping really is a ministry. Some people are incredibly gifted at it. They are patient and gracious. "I'd like to help you help him (or her)". Those words are music to a caregiver's ears.  

Too often, people on the outside looking in, think live-in caregivers have it made, and spend their days lounging and sitting as if some woodland fairy is flying in at night with a woodland fairy clean-up crew. Maybe caregivers make care giving look too easy. Maybe some people can't get over the fact that the dynamics in the home of their friend has changed, and they can't do what they used to do, or have the unlimited  access they used to have. Maybe they don't think that there's anything about you that they're bound to respect. Maybe some people don't think they should have to regard a caregiver, so they get mad and make themselves scarce. Maybe caregivers haven't asked for help, or don't know who to trust. I don't know. What I do know is that one of the greatest gifts to a caregiver is the knowledge that there are people who understand--often by virtue of the fact that they have either been caregivers, or needed care themselves. 
Caregivers don't need busybodies, micro-managers, instigators, gossips, or inspectors. They don't need people with agendas. Caregivers need care, and sometimes that manifests indirectly. 

For someone to volunteer to take your loved one on an outing isn't just a beneficial thing for your loved one. It's good for you as a caregiver, too. Not just any someone, however. I've experienced some people who had an uncanny way of including a trip to a bank in every outing. I'm not talking about jokers like that. I'm talking about genuine, empathetic, compassionate people of integrity, who not only have your loved one's best interest at heart, but recognize your need to rest and recharge, too.

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