Monday, May 17, 2010

Kind Ethics for Caregivers

Viki Kind is a clinical bioethicist, medical educator, hospice volunteer and the author of The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making – Making Choice for Those Who Can’t.

Here's a recent article I received fro her.

Kind Ethics for Caregivers

"Sometimes as caregivers, we try to protect the person in our care and to stay strong for everyone else in the family. We pretend that nothing is wrong even in the midst of very difficult situations. This isolates us—and our loved ones even more.

Instead, reach out and begin talking about how each of you is coping. Allow the person to share his or her emotions, even the loud and scary emotions.

Be still and listen with your full attention.

Turn off the phone and the television. Be present with your loved one’s suffering because as you listen, you help the person heal.

Then it will be your turn to speak your truth. Your fears and concerns are not a burden to your family but something that everyone is thinking and too afraid to speak out loud.

If your loved one’s medical condition has begun to worsen, or the process of dying has begun, ask what your loved one would like to have happen.

Include the individual in every way you can think of so he or she can retain some sense of control and power.

Imagine how hard it must be to know that your mind is going or to feel your body changing right before your eyes.

Even though you can’t control what is happening, one of the greatest gifts you can give your loved one is to hear his or her needs and wishes.

And then, each time you have to make a decision or to talk about life and medical choices, remember to start from your loved ones perspective.

I realize that watching your loved one suffer is difficult for you, the caregiver, but keep in mind how difficult it is for your loved one.

Perhaps you can be a little more patient or a little more respectful. Maybe before you lash out in frustration with the person you are caring for, you can stop, catch your breath and try to be more understanding, compassionate and kind.

I know you are human and you can’t be nice all the time. I know I have been frustrated and less than loving at times when taking care of my family members.

But, I also know we can strive to be better—not perfect, but better. It’s not easy, but we can choose to do a little better every day." Have a kind and respectful day.

I hope you benefitted from this as much as I did.
Sandra - Caregiver Guru for the Caregiver Generation

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