Care Giving Secrets – Ways to Encourage Clients and Prevent Caregiver Burnout

“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ~Albert EinsteinThe Heart of Caregiving is basically, part of the important discipline of nursing; caring in a loving and professional way. The principles that guide this discipline are dignity, independence, communication, safety, infection control, and privacy. These bottom line principles of DISCIP-LINE may be applied in any situation and be easily remembered:Dignity, Independence, Safety, Communication, Infection, Control Privacy, bottom LINE.There are many myths regarding health and aging, for example, memory loss is not a normal symptom for healthy aging. The reality is there are more than 1/10 Americans who are 65 years or older. Most men are married and women are twice as likely to live alone and widowed. Common with aging are loss of important people and meaningful things, such as height, sight, taste, teeth strength and hearing, in 1/3 of elders over 65 years old. Attentive Caregivers put their personal thoughts, feelings, troubles second to the person they are caring for.Caregivers may avoid negative feelings by being balanced and focused, while understanding older people and the disease process. Practicing the six principles of care allows caregivers to understand how to participate as part of a team and offer emotional support while providing direct care. Being balanced within allows caregivers to do focused care flexibly and creatively, while enjoying the celebration of life and caring. Dignity is being treated with respect at all times.Clients heal and function best when they are treated as individuals and are allowed to direct their care. Each person’s beliefs affect their health and attitude. Caregivers are best able to provide care to clients when they are balanced and focused in the present moment. Many caregivers are overwhelmed by the tasks involved in care giving. Below are some basic concepts and tools that can combine with the principles of care for self care and care giving, to combat this pattern of overwhelm.For example, when we treat ourselves with DIGNITY, it is a natural process to extend this behavior to those in our care. How do we treat ourselves with dignity? A simple adjustment to BEING instead of DOING makes an amazing difference. What we focus on expands, so we can choose to focus on what we want. By acknowledging what we want within ourselves, we will create more of this value in our lives. For example, the daily 6 principles of care giving may be balanced with the six principles of self care. Decide on one value (such as; clarity, courage, creativity, focus, fun, being consistent, flexible or generous) to focus on and one of the six principles of care giving and Self care, each day. Think about how this relates to the person we care for. “How can I have fun with my client and dignity, today?”Be thoughtful and do insist on CONNECTION and invite what you hate. Many things influence a person’s behavior and there is always a reason behind the behavior, even if you do not understand what it is. What are your experiences of someone doing something they wouldn’t normally do, or that seems inappropriate or unnecessary? What have you done to put yourself in danger of harm, embarrassment or another kind of risk?A caregiver’s responsibility is to provide care with kindness, no matter what the client’s behavior is. UNDERSTANDING basic needs and the life cycles can be useful. From the time we are born, we search for closeness and connection. Peekaboo, tag and hide & seek are all games that play with connection. Sometimes our clients do not connect or reconnect so easily. They may feel so isolated that they come out swinging both arms aggressively or retreat to a corner. This is a signal that more connection is needed, even if it feels annoying, obnoxious or infuriating. Hyperactivity or inability to calm down and depression may be other symptoms of this need for connection. No value comes from punishing or leaving the client isolated. Setting relaxed expectations and eye contact can be useful for breaking the ice. Playful physical and verbal bumbling attempts to be close (beg & plead, close your eyes and kiss the air, wall or chair instead-open eyes), can bring laughter and a softening of the stuck feelings. Deep within, the client may have a feeling of something being wrong with themselves. Pay attention to how near or far, from the client, brings the most laughter or tenseness and repeat for more laughter. A few minutes of eye contact and laughter can make all the difference in feeling connected while providing direct care. When you are finished say, “Great! I got no hugs. no kisses. But someday, someday, someday, I’ll get one! I’ll just have to try again next time! Thanks for a good run around the house!”Be on SAME PHYSICAL LEVEL level: Do remember that you are delivering care in a balanced way for the client and yourself. Your right hand represents giving and the left hand represents receiving. Keep them both together at your heart level, near your mind. Keep your body within one foot of your client, keeping your elbows at your waist whenever delivering direct care. Being aware of your hands together at your heart level, connected to your mind, allows you to be balanced and focused, preventing you from injuring your back, while creating closeness and safety with the client. Keep your body within one foot of your client, keeping your elbows at your waist whenever delivering direct care. Communicate what action you want before doing. Cradle with palms only to assist movement. Do not grasp with your fingers.Be aware of GENDER DIFFERENCES Respectful of the male hunter’s one track focus and the female as gatherer of information and pleasing others roles. Knowledge of the instinct for direct immediate relation of the hunter versus diffuse awareness of “hostess head” gatherer can save many hours of frustration. Key differences and helpful generalization tools for gender communication: For him; don’t interrupt, simply wait, do not rephrase or give options. For her; state the obvious in a thoughtful tone. Use questions to help talk about feelings and see chapter three for further communication tips.Be willing to lose your own dignity, in order to protect the RIGHTS of your client. Individual rights are guaranteed by law and no one can take them away. A person’s rights are protected by law because rights are crucial to a person’s freedom. People have a right to competent, compassionate care that is delivered with respect. A person in your care should not be expected to give up any of their rights. Which rights would you give up? Caregivers have an obligation to be ethical and do the right thing.Celebrate POWER versus Powerlessness. What are your Daily personal six principles of care? Because inner creates outer and roots create the fruit, these are my six principles of care and may or may not work for you.1) Daily Be GRATEFUL for ten things in your life.2) Daily Be APPRECIATIVE of ten things about yourself.3) Do daily EXERCISE; bounce on the balls of your feet, elbows in, chopping at waist level to be grounded, then chest level to be focused and above your head to the heavens, to release any stinking thinking.3) Do the RIGHT thing.4) ASK for what you want.5) Be willing to RECEIVE it.6) CELEBRATE every small and large success, immediately. The celebration will energize you for the next task and could be any joyful action; a statement of well done, a hooray, pat on the back, jump for joy, cup of tea, garden, phone call to share, reading, writing, listening to music or an inspiring bit of information.TIP: Use a ten minute timer, a buddy and a journal as allies. Remember to provide balanced and focused care in a loving and professional manner, by keeping your giving and receiving hands close to your heart and mind, while using DISCIP-LINE: Dignity, Independence, Communication, Infection Control and Privacy.We would love to hear your comments about this guide, so if you prefer to email rather than blog, send your comments to [email protected] For additional information regarding these tools and principles of care visit or order the book, The Heart of Caregiving.Kings and cabbages go back to compost but good deeds stay green forever. ~ Rick DeMartinisThe shorter way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time. ~Wolfgang Amadeus MozartKites rise highest against the wind, not with it. ~Winston Churchill

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