One of the best Christmases I ever had was on trip I made with my mother-in-law to the hospital on Christmas morning. She was suffering from an infection that required daily IV treatments. So early one Christmas morning before our children arrived to open their gifts and before the rest of her extended family arrived for dinner; we were off on a three hour round trip journey to the hospital. We were listening to Christmas carols on the radio and commenting on how few cars there were on the highway. The snow covered trees along our route added to the feeling of quiet and solitude. It was as if we were all alone on this Christmas morning, two wayward travelers. After a few miles my mother-in-law began to reminisce about Christmases past, and started telling me stories of her childhood. At one point she was relating a story about cutting out paper dolls with two of her sisters by a radiator in the kitchen. She described how the radiator clanked and hissed and the smell of her mother’s cooking. It was then I realized that in her mind she was really in that place and that this miracle was brought about simply because I was there to listen. Later that evening after everyone had left and the house was quiet, my mother-in-law came over to me and thanked me for listening to her stories earlier that day. She said that it was the best Christmas gift she had in years. Listening and validating the life experiences of the individuals in their care is an essential skill for the caregiver to possess. It strengthens the bond between the caregiver and the care receiver.
-By Hello! Home Care contributing writer, Bill Mishico