Whether you’re a family or professional caregiver, there are some important foundational principles in caregiving. Principles that can help you give better care, and can make the experience better for everyone involved.
Those Foundation Principles include the Three Ls of Caregiving…
- Learning and…
Listening is an art. Listening, really listening to the words spoken AND to the underlying message is a skill of successful caregivers. It can take some detective work, and maybe even some trial and error to discover what is really meant in the words spoken.
This skill is one that physicians used to learn. In the days before fancy tests and scans, it was the primary way physicians found out what was wrong. Oh there’s nothing wrong with scans and tests, but the hands on approach of listening, looking and touching the patient creates a physician-patient bond of understanding. Or a bond between care partners.
Listening can help you discover what is really going on. And it can be invaluable when your carereceiver can’t find the words to explain how he feels or what is wrong.
By listening you can discover what your carereceiver is really saying.
Is the anger and refusal to get into the shower really her way of expressing fear of water or of falling?
Does she refuse food because she’s not hungry, it doesn’t taste good or doesn’t loook right? Did you know that the amount of food someone with dementia eats can be influenced by the color of their plates?
She may no longer have the words to explain what she’s thinking. By listening, looking at her body language and softly responding with love, you may discover things you never knew before.
Learning is also part of caregiving. Learning new things like how to change an adult diaper may not be top of your list. But when it prevents a deep life-threating infection like osteomyelitis (an infection of the bone), personal hygiene takes on a whole different meaning and becomes more important. While you’ll probably never receive accolades for an infection that you prevented, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing just how well you did.
How about learning something about your carereceiver you never knew before? My mother shared more memories of her childhood in her final years than all the years before.
And where does Love fit in? Everywhere.
It is essential to being a caregiver, and it is usually the reason family caregivers accept the responsibility and pain of giving care. Love is the beginning, the middle and the end of giving care, and lasts beyond the caregiving.