Home Health Care Providers, Caregivers Must Have Empathy for Patients
If there is one qualifying characteristic necessary in order for a person to become and/or to serve as a good home health care provider or in-home caregiver to an elderly patient, parent, grandparent or other relative, it is without a doubt lots and lots of empathy. There are so many moments that can be so difficult in so many ways, especially when the person on the receiving end of the care fights what you know is in his or her best interests.
I’ve worked with hundreds of families in such situations, and those who handle that phase of life with the most grace are those who are able to view each situation that arises with empathy as if seeing it through the eyes of the elderly relative for whom the care is being administered.
If I could say one thing to a person or family new to elder care (being a caregiver to an elderly parent or relative) in order to help them succeed in being effective, it would be to constantly remind oneself that no matter how difficult the situation becomes for the person or people administering the care, it’s at least as difficult if not more so for the person on the receiving end.
The patient — the only person receiving the care, be it performed by a relative, nurse, home health aide or sitter — is the only person involved in the equation who knows definitively that his or her days are not only numbered but that that number is rapidly dwindling as the end-of-life draws near. It is no more pleasant to have to be the person who has to have his or her own privates washed wipes by someone else than it is to be the person doing the washing.
While the existence of such products as ReadyBath wipes and the EZ Shampoo Inflatable Hair Wash Basin do make life infinitely easier on both the caregiver and the recipient of the in-home health care, the most important thing to remember is that these are still debilitating to the morale of any person accustomed to living independently, and that losing one’s own facilities can be a tremendous psychological and emotional burden that far exceeds that experienced by the caregiver, regardless of whether he or she is a professional or an amateur (i.e. family).