What makes a good caregiver? And how does a good caregiver make me feel?
We’re coming up on a year since Dad moved in and we’re still finding our groove–and we couldn’t do it without the help of some amazing caregivers. Lewy Body Dementia’s grip on dad is just too tight. The kids adjusted almost immediately, thinking it’s cool Poppi lives with us now. Matt and I are (still) getting there.
It’s not about adjusting to having Dad in the house–that’s the easy part because he’s Dad–it’s more about getting used to all that comes with it. Making sure he’s comfortable has been relatively smooth while the most challenging adjustment has been us getting used to all of the people in and out of the house for his care. And it’s still a work in progress.
Getting to know the different personalities coming in and out of the house each day has been interesting. Gaining a feel for their personality, their work style, and how they handle screaming 6, 9, and 12 year old girls, or Maggie the dog jumping all over them–sometimes all at once.
I’m not sure why I was surprised by this, but we’ve learned some are just better fits than others. Living with it daily, I can’t help but notice what makes the good caregivers such good fits…and how they make me feel.
How Does it Feel?
So…how does a good caregiver make me feel? I want to clone them. Yep, I totally would do it if the science was commercially available. Other than that it’s hard to put into words how thankful and relieved I am when the good ones are at the house. More than being qualified, they just get it.
If it needs to be done, they do it without prompting
They’re always a step ahead
They make an effort to know Dad
They read Dad and push him (or not) accordingly
They’re self aware and they truly care
They relate to Dad and they relate to us
To me, ‘getting it’ quite simply means a caregiver’s presence reduces stress in the house, they don’t add to it. That’s it. And it is priceless.
Our kids are 12, 9 and 6. They’re good kids (parent bias much?) but they are, and always have been, a handful. We’re still in the babysitting zone and a good babysitter for the kids is the closest parallel I can draw to a good caregiver for Dad.
Maybe your kids still need babysitters, maybe they don’t but if you remember those days you know what I’m talking about here. You have date night or you want to get away for a few hours–without having to worry about the kids tying up the babysitter and splattering paint on the walls or riding the dog. You’re on edge, tired, and pull-your-hair out exhausted. You just want a break. With the A-Team babysitter, you get that mental break and it’s amazing.
The impact of a great caregiver is a little like that but even better. Only because caring for a mom or a dad is a different kind of stress than parenting. I guess it’s different for everyone, but that’s the case for me. Caring for Dad feels more urgent, it’s higher maintenance, it’s harder and more emotional. It just is.
The good caregivers, with all their stress reducing prowess, give me an overwhelming sense of gratitude. It’s hard work. Funky hours and it can be tedious on a good day. It must be mind-numbing on a bad day. I feel that way sometimes so they must too. On top of it all, the pay isn’t great and schedules can be inconsistent. Yet they always show up. Always.
They show up and reduce stress. They do it so well that I want to clone them.
How does a good caregiver make you feel?