What is the Most Important Quality in a Caregiver?
If you are a caregiver of an aging parent, the most important quality you can have is the ability to be observant. As a caregiver you observe subtle changes in condition, unmet needs and unexpressed wishes so that you can make changes to ensure a greater quality of life for the person for whom you are caring. Some caregivers will come and sit with their charge watching TV and getting meals. Others will anticipate activities that will stimulate memories, enhance brain function and keep the body active so that they are able to maintain their charges mental and physical well-being. That can only happen when the caregiver is observing and being proactive about the person’s needs. When they are observant, they can see changes in behavior or condition that may initiate a visit to the doctor and allows them to provide a verbal dialogue about changes they have seen.
Activities to Enhance Body and Spirit
What are some of the activities that enhance body and spirit? Enjoy nature together in a park or preserve even if it is only sitting on a bench watching squirrels, birds and other animals. Play board games or think of words starting with a particular letter; read the paper or a joke book. Review photo albums from earlier in the person’s life and ask them to tell you what it was like growing up at that time. Write a memoir for the person telling stories that they want to share about their life. Take a video of them telling a story. Sing songs or play music that they like. Dance or have them show you a dance that they did when they were younger. Do a project together like bake cookies or craft a poster with pictures taken from magazines about an ideal vacation. Then have them talk about their favorite vacation. Ask the person what they like to do. Plan to visit sites of interest in the town in which you live. Find out where free concerts are being given. Put together a picnic. These are just a few ideas of ways to increase reasons for enjoying life.
An older adult may require more down time so you will have to tailor activities to their abilities and energy levels. Listening, showing interest in what they have to say, and demonstrating they mean something to you will enhance your relationship, validating them and their purpose for being here. Encourage them to do as much as they can by themselves. Offer choices between several options so that they feel that they have some power over their own life. Ask for their preferences and opinions as often as possible.
Being observant and proactive will forge a trust and build a relationship that will more than pay back your efforts.