Three Cheers For Caregivers
A couple of weeks ago, I had an encounter an interesting situation in the in the Diagnostic Imagining waiting room. There was an older couple waiting for their name to be called. At first I did not think much of the situation, as there are many people in waiting rooms and, all sorts of life tends to happen in waiting rooms.
On my initial observation and without knowing their story or them, it looked like the husband was doing a lot of the caregiving, driving, preparing meals, shopping, dealing with appointments, meds and physical therapy etc. Okay, some of this information, I learned from overhearing parts of their conversation. Sounds travel quickly in waiting room and I swear, almost nothing is private in them. Suddenly, the man was speaking quite abruptly to the woman, who I soon discovered was his wife. Her appointment had run late, and the husband has just discovered that his parking would not be fully validated because they had been at the medical building for too long. While the catalyst for their discussion seems minor, it reminded me of the role that caregivers provide. It is really easy to take what they do for granted. They are our ultimate supporters, drivers, chefs, pharmacists, cleaners, advocates, nannies and a shoulder to lean on. In the days that are less than stellar.
As patients, we sometimes forget that caregivers are also people too. They are entitled to their bad days as well. Just as we as patients are dealing with a host of things, all at the same time so, are our caregivers. They tend to breath every breath that we breath, whether good or bad.
Watching the interaction between this couple, I thought about all the wonderful support that I have received and even the not so great times. From my own experience, I know how taxing it can be for a caregiver. My caregiver has reminded me on occasion. No one enjoys late night ER visits, disagreements about care plans or unfavourable appointments can all put added stress on the patient caregiver relationship. We get lost in being a patient and caregiver,and spend less of our energy on the relationship with that person.
I encourage everyone to do something nice for their caregiver. Tell them how important they are to you, acknowledge what they do and how important they are to you. Everyone wants to be acknowledged for the job that they are doing. If possible try and give them a day off. In some circumstances by adjusting your schedule or asking a friend or family member to assist with some other tasks, you may be able to lighten the load on your primary caregiver. Don't be afraid to ask for help, often people are waiting in the wings waiting to help, they just are not sure how to help. These peeps are especially wonderful at running errands, driving to an appointment or helping around the house. I found it really helpful for caregivers to also have an outlet to connect with other caregivers, they also need support systems, just like patients. If you are able to connect with other patients and their families that are going through similiar situations, it can be immensely helpful for them to have their own support system.
To my caregiver and support system: Thank you form the bottom of my heart.
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