Monday, November 29, 2010

Patience as a Caregiver

Patience may have been eulogized in various contexts, but there's nothing like patience when it comes to senior/elder care. In fact, patience is probably more important than most medicines when it comes to caring for the elderly. Many old people do really have any particular disease as such, except that they are old. They may like to talk about their memories, they may find it difficult to do simple things like hygiene, and yet they may be fussy, attitudinal and angry. The most important care that you can give to them is to listen to them, pay attention, be kind and sympathetic when helping them with their daily tasks, and not respond in kind when they misbehave. Try to understand that their anger is not really directed at you, but by their own impotence and helplessness. It is not easy to be not able to do the simplest tasks; things that they may have done for decades. That makes them angry, and as a caregiver, you are required not to reflect that anger back at them.

Another way to be patient with the elderly is by listening to their ramblings. A seventy year old person has a thousand memories, and almost no one they can share them with, because it is possible that most of their peer group is dead. So, they have no one to talk to, no way to vent or just talk to someone, and a great part of caregiving for the elderly is to just listen and let them talk. That kind of patient attention is very difficult to have, sure, but it is also the primary quality that a caregiver for an elderly should have.

If you find it difficult to be patient, tell yourself how you would feel if your own children did not give you any attention when you become older. Just that thought will make you patient.