Characteristics of TRULY Great Caregivers

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • How do you find a professional caregiver that you TRULY want?

    As I mentioned in the previous blog, my friends, Anna and Bob, have extensive experience working with professional caregivers since they took care of Anna’s mother and two elderly neighbors. I had the opportunity recently to get together with Bob and Anna to talk about what you should look for if you are hiring someone as a professional caregiver. This blog details the qualities listed in the first word of Bob and Anna’s three-part acronym: TRULY LOVING CARE.

    So with that introduction, let’s start describing TRULY:

    T stands for "trustworthy." A great professional caregiver will be the epitome of this adjective. This person is working in a delicate situation, in that he/she is caring for a person with a disease of the brain. The caregiver should know how to create an environment built around trust, in which the loved one feels safe and secure.
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    Another aspect of this word is the need for the professional caregiver to be trustworthy when working alone with the loved one in a residence. In Anna and Bob’s case, the professional caregivers that worked with their neighbors actually stayed at the house. It would have been very easy for the professional caregivers to take advantage of – or even steal from - the person who has Alzheimer’s; thus, trustworthiness must be the core of the professional caregiver’s being.

    R stands for "respectful." The professional caregiver needs to be respectful of the loved one. Sometimes the loved one will say strange things, or forget what just happened moments ago. Instead of treating the loved one like a child (or a crazy person), a good professional caregiver will interact with the loved one in a caring, adult manner. In addition, the professional caregiver should be respectful of his/her place in the home. That person will realize that he/she is not part of the family; rather, that person has been hired to do a job, and should therefore refrain from getting involved too deeply in the family dynamics.

    stands for "understanding." A great professional caregiver makes every attempt to understand the needs of the loved one with Alzheimer’s. This may be especially difficult if the loved one has reached a point where the disease has destroyed the ability to communicate. Additionally, the great professional caregiver tries to understand the context of the environment in which he/she works, including the family’s situation, feedback from the doctor(s), and the roles of other key stakeholders (friends, religious figures, etc.) who are a critical part of the loved one’s support group.

    stands for "listener." To be able to truly understand, one needs to listen. This important characteristic is therefore a critical one to look for, when hiring a professional caregiver. By listening, we mean that the professional caretaker takes in another person’s point of view and incorporates it into his/her responses and actions. In Anna’s, Bob’s and my minds, the professional caretaker becomes a key member of the team. He/she will need the ability to interpret and incorporate all sorts of data, from a variety of sources, into a plan of action for the loved one. To do so effectively requires listening.

  • Y stands for "young at heart." Alzheimer’s Disease is very stressful for not only the loved one who experiences it, but also the family and friends who are providing support. Worries may range from the big issues (the decision on when to bring in Hospice, financial challenges) to small ones (the location where the loved one left the other shoe). The great professional caregiver keeps everything in perspective and figures out how to lighten the mood. He/she smiles a lot, laughs, and finds joy and love in the world – and in the current situation.
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    Those characteristics are critical in hiring a professional caregiver. So what else should you look for? Next week we’ll describe the qualities in a LOVING professional caregiver who works with Alzheimer’s patients and their families.
Published On: August 03, 2006