I thought it would be a good idea to hear from some of our Caregivers, so I wanted to share this blog from one of our very own Live in Caregiver Theo, I appreciate the time you took to write this and let us all know; How he became a Live In Caregiver….

My life as a live in caregiver began when my dad fell ill in 2003.  He needed 24/7 care and I offered to be of service. Although it was unfortunate that he was unwell, I had the opportunity to spend time with him, something I had always longed for. Dad had great wisdom to share about life and what is  important. I can say without a doubt, the conversations we had in that time period, have shaped me into the man I am today. This is but one of the many rewards of being a caregiver. The following are some of the nuggets of wisdom I have picked up on this wonderful journey.

I often said I would never do it and condemned the people who did. Yet there I was, in a room so tense you could cut a knife right through it. I can still remember the smell of the ink pen I used to sign my divorce papers. Shortly after this, I went to work with one of my patients. As life would have it, he was in a  jovial mood that day. This would be a breakthrough any other day because I had been encouraging him to have a positive outlook on life. It wasn’t long before I had enough of his positivity and demanded him to stop; in a harsh bossy way.  We were both surprised by my reaction which was clearly out of character. In that moment,  I realized that the inner turmoil from going through a divorce had drained me emotionally. This started to impact those around me who had nothing to do with it. I finally understood the wisdom shared with me years before this moment. Perhaps the most effective way to care for others is to care for you first. I didn’t like hearing this at first because it seemed like a selfish way to live.

After my emotional breakdown, it was clear to me that I was serving from an empty cup. Even with the best of intentions, I couldn’t be available for my patient at the level that I wanted. Moving forward, I developed a practice of self-care that addresses my emotional, physical, mental, social and spiritual needs. I find that this overflows into the lives of those I care for.

In my current live in position, my self-care practice varies from day-to-day but includes; Dancing to my favorite tunes, some light yoga and stretching, breathing, meditation, and daily writings in my journal, and eating healthy foods. Starting my day this way allows me to have the energy it takes to offer At- Home Quality Care service for my patients.  Even though the patients needs will vary case by case, by addressing their physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects, I can care for them in a more balanced way.

Their physical needs would consist of personal care and physical activities. Giving a bed bath, shower, shaving, assisting with dressing are but a few of the activities that fall under personal care. Physical activities would cover assisting with ambulation, transfers, range of motion and re-positioning the patient if they are on bed rest as well as walking and other forms of exercise.

Addressing the mental aspect includes encouraging the patient to play games such as bingo, chess, scrabble and many others. The mental activities would depend on the client’s preferences. One of my patients loves playing fantasy football. Every week he has the task of strategically picking the players that will earn the highest number of points resulting in his team’s victory. This activity demands his statistical analysis which keeps his brain happy and stimulated. I support him by creating my own fantasy team and asking his advice on who to play. This adds to his sense of purpose and also speaks to his social aspects because now he is not playing by himself.

Attending church and community activities are other common ways to meet the client’s social needs. Spirituality and meaning plays a big role in the patient’s well-being . I have noticed that when meaning is lost, often times there is no will to live. I once had a patient who was fairly healthy and yet he passed away a week after losing his wife. Understandably so, most of his meaning was invested in their wonderful life together. Supporting a patient by encouraging them to find meaning after such difficult events could possibly add many years to their life. The aging process can be a tough transition as the patient notices that they no longer can do some of the things they could do with ease. It seems this loss of role and identity could lead to distress or even depression as their sense of meaning has been diminished. With creativity and observation, a caregiver can invite the patient to look at other ways to reinforce their sense of meaning.It could be by becoming more involved in their church or supporting an animal shelter. Anything that speaks to their values and set of beliefs while contributing to the betterment of others will make a difference.

Emotional support  from my understanding involves largely listening to the patient with no agenda. It looks like dropping my opinions and just listening from the intention of understanding their viewpoint. When a patient can express themselves in this way it can relieve them of any ill feelings they might be holding on to and support their overall welling.

A typical day with my current live in client looks like waking him up at 7 am and reminding him to take his medication. My client loves music so i usually play his favorite tunes as he drinks his morning coffee. After much coercing he agrees to take a shower or a bed bath. We might go for a drive around town and get some air and on a good day even play some chess. Before you know it its lunch time which is usually a salad. Though each day varies.  The afternoon is the time he likes to connect with others either by stopping by his former workplace or visiting a neighbor. This is usually followed by a nap and then dinner and a movie or his favorite TV show. I find being a live in caregiver very rewarding and I am grateful each day that I can do this.

  • Written By: Theo K (Live In Caregiver)