Over the years, I’ve found there are 3 misconceptions about caregivers that many people make:
- They’re senior babysitters
- They hate what they do
- They’re not family
So here’s a bit more insight into who they are as people to dispel those impressions.
1. Caregivers Are Senior Babysitters
Remember when you were a kid and your babysitter was patient and let you perform tasks despite how long they took to do? How about when your babysitter took you to the grocery store and upheld your dietary needs while still turning the errand into a fun adventure with laughter, companionship and delightful conversation? No?
Caregiving is not a summer job for teenagers, it’s a serious medical profession. If anything, caregivers should be viewed with the same authority as doctors and nurses. If anything, many pursue the role of caregiver because they genuinely want to help, but don’t want to be serious all the time – their companionship is paramount!
Whereas some universities specifically teach doctors proper bedside manner, caregivers are made of people who possess that skill inherently.
Many family members get frustrated when their elder becomes sick because they want to help but don’t know what they can do. That’s the void caregivers fill. They are friends who have the skills and training to help.
2. Caregivers Hate What They Do
This one is usually implied with adult children. They talk about their own research and how caregivers get more stressed and depressed than anyone. Additionally, caregivers don’t get paid for nearly as many hours as they work.
First of all, caregivers are not involved in senior care for the money – there’s not much to be made. Caregiving is a vocation, caregivers do it because they want to. Why? The simple answer is it means as much to them as music does to a musician. For a more in-depth look, I’ve seen many get involved who had strong relationships with their grandparents or actually enjoy listening to elders. There’s a lot of people out there (and especially with Facebook) who are never showing their true selves to anyone… elders aren’t like that. They are honest and candid, and their stories are fascinating. Why watch Mad Men when you can meet one?
As for the stress and depression, it’s true that caregivers suffer this immensely, but they accept it as part of their job. In the same way that people who join the Peace Corps know they’re not going to be living a cushy lifestyle. They join for the cause, not for the negatives or money.
3. They’re Not Family
If we’ve learned anything from our last first-hand account, it’s that caregivers are indeed family and treated as such by our parents and loved ones. While biological family is irreplaceable, it’s as I said before, caregivers are family (and friends) who have the skills, knowledge, and training to provide your loved one with the help they need.