Although the caregiver and her charge share the same objectives and goals they come at them from different perspectives. The world of the caregiver is dynamic, constantly expanding, changing and moving at a fast pace. The world of the care receiver is diminishing, not as complex and having fewer interactions with the environment outside the home and with other individuals. It is because of this that they each prioritize or value the same tasks differently. Let me give you an example of what happens when these two worlds collide. Last fall my wife had given me a list of chores including stopping at the post office and picking up a book she had reserved at the library. I had raked leaves for four hours that morning and then drove to pick up my granddaughter who lives an hour away for a visit. Despite all this I still remembered that my mother-in-law wanted me to pick up some bananas for her breakfast the next day. I amazed myself that with all I had done that day I still remembered to pick them up. Arriving to make dinner for her that evening I proudly gave her the bananas. Her reaction was one of disappointment. They were not green enough for her. At first I was upset, after all I had remembered to pick them up. However, when I gave it more thought, picking up the bananas was a postscript to my day. I hadn’t put much thought into it. She had been thinking about it most of the day. Would I remember to buy them so that she would have them for her breakfast? She also had a definite idea about what kind she wanted but hadn’t communicated it clearly to me. In our house bananas don’t last long enough for us to worry about them getting overripe. For her having a banana a day means a bunch of bananas will become overripe by the time she eats the last one. So you see something as simple as buying bananas has a different meaning and value for both parties. The caregiver has to be aware of how their worlds differ. They need to communicate effectively, and also be understanding and insightful in order to provide compassionate care.
-By Hello! Home Care contributing writer, Bill Mishico