Top 5 Traits of a Compassionate Caregiver
Being the caregiver of an elderly person can be very fulfilling, but it takes a certain mindset to be the best caregiver possible. A caregiver, above all, should be compassionate. This means the caregiver has a caring heart and seeks out resources to improve their quality of care.
To perform caregiving duties successfully, a caregiver should also have:
- Patience: Caring for an elderly loved one takes a positive attitude and empathy. It’s easy to lose patience when you hear the same story time and time again, or if your charge won’t finish their meals. If you feel yourself becoming frustrated or impatient, take a step back to compose yourself. Patience is a learned skill for many, and it takes practice. It’s natural to feel annoyed or frustrated at times, but letting this emotional resentment build up isn’t good for the caregiver or their charge. Being patient means taking a deep breath when things aren’t going as planned and focusing on the big picture, instead.
- The gift of dignity: Tending to the personal care needs of an elderly loved one, such as helping them dress or use the bathroom, can be a difficult adjustment. While this is natural, keep in mind that your loved one could also feel uncomfortable or embarrassed and frustrated at their lack of ability to do these tasks themselves. When assisting with personal care tasks, it’s important for the caregiver to stay composed and respectful.
- Diplomacy: Communicate in a kind manner, with a pleasant tone of voice and body language. These actions can say even more than your words, so uncross your arms and don’t raise that eyebrow if you don’t need to. Prepare yourself for some challenging interactions with your loved one, even for seemingly small things like meal or activity preferences.
- Attentiveness: Noticing the subtle changes in a senior’s mood, mental state, or physical changes takes some attention and accurate record keeping. This is a good trait when it comes to remembering to refill medications, preventing your loved one from wandering off and getting lost, keeping track of bills, having meals prepared, and being dependable.
- Self-care: It may be surprising to learn that personal self-care is very important as a caregiver, but this trait helps the caregiver “recharge” when caring for their elderly loved one. It’s important to be aware of your limits, and to know that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. If you feel any guilt for mistakes you’ve made as a caregiver, learn to forgive yourself and try to do better in the future.
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