L.O.V.E. Caregiving Tips
The subject of this series of columns is how to hire someone who can provide exceptional caregiving. Not having that experience myself, I visited with two friends, Anna and Bob, who have worked with professionals in caring for her mother and two elderly neighbors. In brainstorming the qualities needed in a professional caregiver, Anna and Bob came up with an acronym: TRULY LOVING CARE.
My previous blog addressed the qualities represented in TRULY. This particular blog will move into the qualities that Bob and Ann suggested for LOVING. So here goes:
L stands for "laughter." This was previously mentioned in the Y of “TRULY,” but laughter is worth a separate mention as an important quality of a great caregiver. Why? First of all, Bob and Anna believe that being able to laugh means that the professional caregiver has kept some level of perspective. Caregiving is an important part of live, but it is not all of life (although it often can seem that way). Keeping perspective through laughter and other types of methods (meditation, etc.) allows the family and caregivers to be able to think more clearly and handle decisions in a more proactive and rational way. Furthermore, some research studies indicate laughter is actually considered medically therapeutic and can serve as a good dose of preventative medicine. So having a professional caregiver who can laugh can be a great service not only to that person, but also to the stressed family members and friends. By joining in the laughter, they can ward off some of the unexpected medical outcomes they face in caring about a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease.
O stands for "observant." The professional caregiver needs to have an eagle eye concerning everything. Where did the person leave his/her dentures? Where did that bruise come from? When did the person last take the medication? What is the person’s emotional state? Can the person still carry on a conversation? All of this information is very important to convey to the family and, in some cases, to the medical community. Many people do not have that type of eye for detail. Finding someone who does is a godsend.
V stands for "visible." People with Alzheimer’s Disease need consistency both in location, but also in the people who interact with them, especially as the disease progresses. The professional caregiver should be a very visible presence in the family’s life. They should provide concise reports on the person’s status to key parties. The professional caregiver should be in the room when the person has an emotional reaction, or becomes very confused. The professional caregiver may be one of the last people that the loved sees before taking a nap, or may be the reassuring presence who wakes the person up.
I stands for "intelligent." There’s a lot of information that comes at the family and the professional caregiver. Whether medications, preferences, or family relationships, the professional caregiver has to analytically sort out what the person with Alzheimer’s Disease really needs, and how to provide consistent care. The caregiver also has to know when additional support (such as a visit to the doctor’s office) is warranted. The caregiver also needs to know how to ask probing questions to multiple sources in order to get the information he/she needs to make good decisions, and then combine the information in making decisions.
N stands for "nurturing." This characteristic is a different type of intelligence, often known as emotional intelligence. This professional caregiver knows how to interact smoothly and serenely with the person with Alzheimer’s as well as with the family and friends. This type of professional caregiver knows how to create an environment in which the person who suffers from this disease feels safe and secure.
G stands for "good-hearted." The professional caregiver takes the high road in dealing with issues, and looks for the best in everyone – the person with Alzheimer’s, the family, the friends, and other key stakeholders. This type of caregiver epitomizes the power of positive thinking and seems to walk around with a positive comment when everything appears to be going wrong. This type of caregiver seems to see the glass as half full when others see it half empty.
Finding this type of person to care for your loved one is not easy. I think about these qualities as related to the nursing home personnel who work with my mom. Only a few come close to having all of these characteristics – and those caregivers are godsends to my mother.
The next blog will address Bob and Anna’s final word, CARE. Stay tuned for those characteristics in the blog that will be published later in the week.
Published On: August 08, 2006