Caregiving is an important job. After all, people like me would not exist without them. In a way, caregivers are my heroes. There are not many jobs that dictate the well-being, or even the very existence of another person, but this one does. It takes a special kind of person to perform this job well.
What are the most important qualities of a caregiver? I guess I’d be the one to ask.
To me, four attributes stand out above all else. The first and most obvious one is physical fitness, which should go without saying. But it’s not as simple as it seems since not everyone can lift me as high or low as I need to be lifted sometimes. With my current setup, different tasks need different caregivers. I can’t rely on just one person. In my case, it really does take a village.
The next two are so closely related that I can’t talk about them individually. Gentleness and patience. If you are rushing, you are not gentle, and vice versa. Certain jobs are all about completing tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible, but caregiving is not one of them. Sure, you can expedite the process once you get the routine down (after almost 22 years, my family has become pretty efficient at meeting my physical needs), but rushing is always a no-no.
I am obviously very fragile, so it’s not that difficult to injure me. One abrupt move and my back will crunch into some awkward position and leave me in pain. One slip of the razor and my lip is bleeding. One yank on my legs and they might fly off like the scarecrow’s did in “The Wizard of Oz.” Well, not really, but you get the idea.
The potential for injury is always there when rushing. It’s not fun to be carried too quickly through a doorway and have my head barely miss the doorjamb: “Phew, I wasn’t decapitated.” It’s stressful to be rushed.
The fourth caregiver attribute is a much-needed sense of humor. That always makes everything better. Humor remedies awkward and stressful situations. My two best friends, who both take care of me, both crack jokes during hard times so things seem like a breeze.
I’m sure there are other important qualities, but these four stand out to me. I’m blessed to have all the help I need from people I truly love.
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