Haims: Caregiving can be a duty or a calling | VailDaily.com

Haims: Caregiving can be a duty or a calling

There can be many reasons that someone steps into the role of caring for another. Sometimes a friend or loved one may need help recovering from an illness or surgical procedure. And, at other times, someone may need assistance with everything that comes with getting through the day. The role of caring for someone is sometimes requested, sometimes demanded, and sometimes a chosen role.

When a friend, family member, or a loved one is in need of short-term physical, medical, or mental help, people often say, “Tell me what you need and I’ll be there.” Offers of kindness come from many places. However, often the people who step up to assist in such situations are not prepared, or available, to be there for the long-term.

When a need for help becomes long-term, resources often dwindle. Friends often have their own lives, family, and jobs that limit their availability. It’s understandable.

When people step into such a role of caregiving, the actions of helping another can be very gratifying. Frequently, people do not end up in a caregiving position as a move into a career, but to fulfill a need. As a surprise to them, the act of stepping outside themselves for another reaps benefits beyond the imagination.

Here at Visiting Angels, we recently received a request from a son living out of state to care for his mother experiencing mild cognitive impairment. She has been living alone in an apartment for many years and in recent conversations with his mother, he expressed concern for her well-being. He asked that we set up an initial home visit and share with him suggestions for her care. He did, however, mention that she was quite apprehensive to receiving help.

When we arrived at the home, it took considerable time to be invited in. Once inside, we sat and chatted for a while and quickly realized that the need for assistance was substantial. The home was in great disarray; the refrigerator was full of expired food, medications were strewn throughout the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom, and the stove was left on. Further, the client could not recall the last time she had visited a medical provider.

Complicating the challenges of meeting this client’s need was staffing. We have been short-staffed for quite a while. My office manager and I felt it was going to take a very special person to be accepted into this lady’s home and questioned whether we had such a person available.

After a brief discussion, we realized the perfect caregiver was right in front of us. A mother of two young adults who had also provided the best care humanly possible taking care of a parent. She offered her love, protection, advocacy, stood up for their rights and treated her parent with the dignity and respect deserved.

This particular caregiver has had a number of careers that in no way prepared her for a career in caregiving. However, her life skills, compassion, and desire to do something that inspires her to work is all she needed to give it a try. Recently, she called our office and was giddy. She not only went swimming with her client, but also to dinner. She broke through her client’s barriers and expressed how rewarded she felt — that she made a difference.

Often, life happens to us — with little notice or choice. While we try to manage the direction, sometimes we get derailed, lose sight of what inspires us, or worse yet — our sense of purpose and value. However, when we stand back and look at how life’s challenges have been overcome, we find a rebirth. Purpose, passion, and a sense of selflessness can prove to be quite infectious and inspiring.

The selfless act of helping others is rewarding in a way that can’t really be described. I love what I do and am grateful that our team members do to. We are lucky.

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