I really like this quote by Ram Dass:
“We’re all just walking each other home.”
It captures the idea that care givers and those being cared for are walking the same path and, ultimately, when done right both care giver and those being cared for end up better off.
In my professional counseling practice and my personal life as a care giver I have come up with a list of 8 things way too many care givers do that are counterproductive to effective care giving regardless of being in a home setting or a senior living community.
The List of Counterproductive Behaviors
- Do what is asked of you immediately. Never think about any other demands or responsibilities you carry. Sense the apparent immediacy of the request and try to fulfill it immediately. Don’t think, just do.
- Attempt to complete all that is needed or asked of you by yourself. Never allow yourself to think about or ask for assistance. Feel the need to do it all alone and respond only to that feeling.
- Never take a day off. Never even think about a day off. Be possessive and see yourself as the one and only person available and capable.
- Never ask for help! Ever . . . It is a done deal as far as you are concerned.
- Disregard your own health and welfare. Never see a physician, or heaven forbid, a therapist trained in how to help you navigate this journey you have constructed.
- Don’t vent! Never complain or seek someone to think this through with. They will confuse you and maybe just get you thinking differently, and this is unacceptable.
- Give up everything you enjoy in life. Never reward yourself or replenish your emotional battery. Deny your needs completely. Do nothing that brings you joy or pleasure, alone or in the company of those important to you. There will surely be time, someday, to think about yourself, but certainly not now.
- If you have a family, disregard them. They will soon feel disconnected from you and the support they could give if you were ever there for them by being there for yourself . . . .
The Obvious that is Not So Obvious
This list may seem obvious or elementary, but I see these behaviors way too often. It might be worthwhile to examine your care giving staff and your care giving culture to see if any of these traits exist and if they do, develop some strategies to combat them.