One of the things that make caregiving a rewarding job is the promise of a rich experience. The lessons from taking care of patients help make you whole and define you as a person. With this in mind, it becomes apparent that every effort you put in is valuable.
Senior care is an area where caregiving takes you on a whole new level of learning. Although the bulk of your tasks would probably be assisting older patients in their daily activities, you will also serve as their companion.
There are many ways to learn from this caregiver-older patient relationship. What are the major takeaways?
1. Face-to-face interaction makes relationships more meaningful.
In this age of advanced technology where virtual communication is the norm, making friends and establishing relationships without mobile phones is now a rarity.
Although many older patients are familiar with video and phone calls, they would almost always prefer face-to-face interaction to foster friendships. It is easier to build trust and people can connect on a deeper level this way. They also learn to socialize and become productive in a community.
2. Life is short, so make the most of it.
Make time for what’s important. The most valuable things in life are health, family, and a few close friends. When you're young, you tend to think that reaching your 60's is too far off. Too remote actually to even plan for it. But those in their final years would say that life is too short and precious to waste on unimportant things.
Building material wealth when you're younger is a necessity but family and close relationships should always be a priority. This realization is the reason why older patients in nursing homes feel happy when family and friends visit. It is something they look forward to every day.
Also, health is important to enjoy life to the fullest. Seasoned caregivers can attest that one of the biggest regrets of older people is taking their health for granted while they were younger. Because they embraced an unhealthy lifestyle for many years, they suffered the consequences later in life. Chronic diseases could limit a patient's quality of life, especially after retirement.
3. You hold certain beliefs now, but it doesn't mean they wouldn't change over time.
Because learning never stops as long as one lives, older people have a deeper understanding of life. A sick old body will say, "Been there, done that, so listen up." Their experiences, plus seeing the bigger picture in their daily challenges, give them wisdom. The result is that they either hold onto what they firmly believe or take an entirely different point of view in their old age.
4. All of us have only one destination: death.
To younger people, death is a far-fetched concept. But for older folks, it is inevitable and something to face head-on. Caregiving in nursing homes teaches us to make life as meaningful as possible without losing that reminder that we are just passersby in this world.
5. Aging is not to be feared. On the contrary, it must be embraced.
Older patients say that the body gets old, but the mind does not. The mind only gets wiser. No one can turn back time, and it's better to ride the tide instead of anxiously bringing back your youth. Doing so makes you stuck in the past, and you lose the opportunity to appreciate what lies ahead.
6. Being a companion to older patients is a privilege.
You will learn the secrets to living a full life. An aging body teaches how to be happy even if nothing is perfect and even if things are not ok. Their experiences tell you to not forget to love yourself as you grow old.
Life lessons from people who've been through ups and downs for at least six decades are worth a treasure. As you work with older patients, you will understand many things that young people usually don’t. Older patients will touch your life, and perhaps because of this, you'll be a changed man, a better person who will value life and health until the end.
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