There are many things that nobody told us about caregiving. ReadersMagnet discusses a few of these realities and misconceptions of caregiving.
Caregiving has evolved into one of the noblest professions in our society. Taking care of the elderly and the sick is no easy task. What separates caregivers from doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel are that caregivers spend so much time with the patients; from changing sheets, assisting them with their food intake, bath, to constantly being with the patients as they go on with their ADLs (activities of daily living). While we are generally aware of the challenges that caregivers face related to their tasks, there are many misconceptions of caregiving. These beliefs can affect the adoption of policies that support our caregivers and their welfare. Today, we will take a look at some of the things that we thought we know about caregiving.
Making hard decisions is just for physicians.
This is one of the many misconceptions of caregiving: caregivers simply follow what doctors and nurses tell them to do. Because caregivers spend many hours close to their patients, many of these patients grow familiar with their caregivers. Sometimes, they insist on things that go against standard protocols and many other instances where there is no simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ involved. From stopping senior patients from insisting on driving to being firm on what food the patient should eat, caregivers always have to make difficult choices almost daily.
Working with doctors and nurses is copacetic.
A doctor’s primary concern is prolonging life and fixing health issues. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. However, this noble goal poses challenges in maintaining a quality life for the patients for caregivers. Doctors and caregivers sometimes clash as efforts to prolong one’s life come at the cost of quality of life. The ideal partnership would be a doctor and a caregiver working together to prolong a patient’s life while also ensuring that he or she enjoys the last remaining years of his or her life.
Caregivers are always proud of their routines.
Sometimes dealing with their daily task can make caregivers cringe. They are often subjected to instances when they feel a loss of modesty and embarrassment. It’s not that caregivers are not thankful for their jobs and do not like taking care of other people. It’s just that the tasks they do daily can take a toll on them and sometimes wish that they were not doing what they are doing, like replacing soiled sheets or taking insults from a difficult patient.
Caregiving won’t strain your relations.
Most of us can leave our work and every stress related to it in our office buildings. Sadly, this is not the case for caregivers. Aside from the physical stress, caregivers are subjected to mental and emotional stress. They take a heavy toll on them more often than not, gradually changing their moods and tolerance level. They come home tired and, in certain situations, cranky. These can affect relationships with families and friends.
Emotions and stress can’t be passed on to you.
This is related to the item above. In most situations, caregivers are heavily affected by their patient’s emotions and stresses. By nature, caregivers are empathic individuals, and they tend to absorb whatever problems and worries their patients are dealing with. Emotions and stress can be overwhelming, and yes, they are contagious. If one is not careful, a caregiver might end up sick and depressed like his or her patient.
Caregiving is very similar to having another kid.
While taking care of toddlers and young kids is always challenging. We should not compare this with taking care of the sick and the elderly. Older people have different and specific needs. Their physical and mental limits are definitely not similar to babies and kids. Taking care of elderly and sick adults requires more understanding and patience. These individuals have accumulated life experiences and wisdom and are unlikely to give up their independence and authority, which can prove difficult for caregivers.
The Caregiving profession can’t be hazardous.
This is something that is rarely discussed when talking about caregivers. We recognized that their task could be tiresome or even depressing, but no one really talks about hazardous their jobs can be. Aside from the physical, mental, and emotional drain, caregivers also run the risk of contracting diseases from their patients. They are the most vulnerable because they are the ones close to the patient. Flu and other infections are just some minor examples. A 1 999 study in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association found that the strain of caring for a cancer patient increased the caregiver’s risk of dying in the next five years by 63%.