Dr. Ethelle G. Lord
Individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias require specialized care both while at home and after entering long-term care. Professional caregivers and family caregivers who tirelessly provide this specialized care on a daily basis, even during the night hours, must constantly remind themselves of their mission and greater purpose in doing this work. Dealing with individuals living with dementias can be mind-boggling, even mind-numbing.
Compassion for others in our care is perhaps the greatest responsibility and honor presented to an individual. Compassion is a universal trait that includes kindness, generosity, helpfulness, understanding and acceptance of others. One of the greatest tests of faith is the care of an individual living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. It requires inner strength for the caregiver to endure the grueling specialized care, endless repetitive questions, and around-the-clock schedule. Here is a sample of the fatigued caregiver timeline which I have found extremely accurate: http://remembering4you.com/pdf/03CaregiverFatigueTimeline.pdf. It is worth to keeping and so is The Four Stages of Caregiving for Professional Caregivers. You can view this at: http://remembering4you.com/stages-of-caregiving/.
It has been my experience that professional caregivers have a great deal of compassion. They forge ahead when they are tired and covering two shifts, back to back. They show compassion, most of the time, and want to help the organization and the residents. Most professional caregivers are overworked, underpaid and not nearly as appreciated by employers and families as they deserve. These professional caregivers can suffer from fatigue, Fibromyalgia, sciatic nerve pain, even depression.
Having been there as a family caregiver, I can attest that family caregivers seldom receive support and praise for their 24/7 responsibilities. Most often they suffer and cry in silence so as not to upset their loved one who is living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Too often others will ask how the individual living with Alzheimer’s is doing but nobody will ask how the family caregiver is coping, doing and being. Family caregivers suffer with isolation, depression, and often put off obvious health problems in order to keep fulfilling the endless demands of family caregiving.
The parallel between professional caregivers and family caregivers is obvious here. It is time to put a new show on the road and, in the words of President John Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Is it time to ask what you can do for the caregiver today?
We all want our loved ones to adjust well and have the best quality of life possible. However, we readily relinquish total care and life to strangers such as a nursing facility, assisted living, hospital, rarely visiting and never helping with the hands-on care while they are hospitalized or in long-term care. I have a few questions to ask you:
·What are you willing to do in order to improve the level of care and quality of life for your loved one?
· Knowing what we know today, is it realistic to completely turn over the care of your loved one to a stranger, no matter what training he/she may possess?
·What is the meaning of life for your loved one now that he/she is living with Alzheimer’s?
Care Partners™ is training for both professional caregivers and family caregivers promoting teamwork and cooperation in providing the highest possible level of care to individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Care Partners™ are part of a larger inter-professional team including doctors, nurses, certified nurse assistants, and families. Compassion, understanding and loving care is at the core of this program. For more information about adopting Care Partners™ in your facility, organization and community, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org today.
About the author
Dr. Ethelle G. Lord, former president of the Maine Gerontological Society in the State of Maine, is currently President of Remembering 4 You which offers Alzheimer’s coaching and consulting to businesses. She is an adjunct professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Maine and has her Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. Her 10-year experience as a family caregiver originated with her husband who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in Jan. 2003. In that decade she has seen a daily influx of new Alzheimer’s cases. Dr. Lord realizes there is an urgent need for a change in perspective with regards to providing individual and institutional care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s. She is married to Maj. Larry S. Potter, USAF retired, and lives in Mapleton, Maine. Dr. Lord is available for presentations, training, and Alzheimer’s coaching/consulting.