Being a caregiver is not easy. It necessitates commitment, sacrifice, compassion and patience as the chief virtues. Whether or not one has the attributes needed to be a caregiver and whether or not one is prepared to be one, sometime across the lifespan one has to play the role of a caregiver.
You don’t have to think too deep to figure out who a caregiver is! Isn’t there a wife or a husband, a mother or a father, an aunt or an uncle, a brother or a sister who is a caregiver in each household? These are routine caregivers. And then, there are specialist caregivers – nurses/ paramedics in hospitals, people trained (either professionally or by virtue of experience) to take care of differently-abled people or terminally ill patients, nannies/ babysitters, etc.
While they provide the much-needed care for others, who takes care of them? Do we realize that the caregivers around us need to be cared for too?
Be it a routine or a specialist caregiver, s/he is also a human in need of care in ways not necessarily overtly evident. As care-receivers or simply as observers of caregivers, what are the things we can be vigilant about:
- Caregiver burnout – Committed caregivers have the tendency to continue to care even when they are drained out. And so, it usually escapes cognizance that the caregiver also needs a break from care-giving. A burnt-out caregiver might continue to provide care, but the efficiency gradually starts going down the hill.
- Caregiver anxiety – Just because a person is into the role of care-giving, doesn’t mean that s/he is a confident juggler against all odds. Just because a caregiver might wear a caring smile most of the time, doesn’t mean that she is not mentally battling with issues. A caregiver’s anxiety may be due to the care-receiver/s or purely personal.
- Caregiver finances (if s/he is a paid caregiver) – Though professional caregivers who are hired from Consultancies are secure about the remuneration they receive, not all have such assurances. At times, caregivers in dire need of finances offer their services for petty sums.
- Caregiver emotions – Caregivers are not robots. They have emotions too. Their emotions might go unspoken and unexpressed many times. At other times, their spoken and expressed emotions might go unheeded.
- Caregiver needs and wants – Caregivers often render sacrificial service ignoring their personal needs and wants. This is an area that requires sensitivity by significant others.
To sum it up Caregivers are In, Among, Around and One of Us. So our responsibility towards them gets all the more enhanced because at the end of the day we are only helping ourselves. Ironically our selfishness is actually our selflessness, working towards a greater cause and a token of gratitude towards our Caregivers. Let’s take a deep introspection :
- Talking about the caregivers and their services towards the society and the country, this pandemic period has brought forth how our front line service providers – Doctors, Nurses, Sanitation Workers are risking their lives to provide care for the ailing people and help them fight the dreadful virus and reconcile with their loved ones. It’s not that we are oblivious to their services but these testing times have made us witness their courageous, selfless side. So how can we do our bit to help them win this contest against an unknown enemy? Simple, follow the hygiene and sanitation rules to the T and making sure every individual (family) continues to do the same. This simple act would make sure that the splurge of numbers in the hospitals is contained giving a breathing space to our caregivers to focus better on vaccine trials which could mean a solution to this humongous problem and not just a hide out. And aren’t we helping ourselves at the end of the day?
- The above mentioned way has a non linear correlation between our action and the ensuing result. But there are other more linear ways of exhibiting that – “We care for our caregivers”. Own their families like our own, in the absence of the warriors (they are indeed warriors shielding us) take care of their needs (can be deep as emotional or momentary need of groceries) or at least as a helping hand and a generous word to be around. That makes a lot of difference. To know that their family is not alone in their absence goes a long way in fighting off their anxieties on one front (even superheroes have families to look after, isn’t it?). Not every help is necessarily financial. Every small and intangible gesture too matters. When caregivers are busy caring for our families, let’s be family for their families.
This is just a bird’s eye view of how we could reciprocate for the selfless service we are receiving (especially in reference to the current situation). We need to ponder harder over this.
Identifying the psychopaths, very important!!! Society isn’t free of black sheep. When the entire world clapped and lit candles in respect of the great service our caregivers are doing to the mankind there are a certain clan of people (of rotten mindset, nothing to do with any ethnicity whatsoever) who not only denied to accept the role our front liners are playing but went an extra mile to insult them. From spitting to pelting stones; from beating to demanding evacuation of their rented accommodations; from hurling personal insults to torturing their families – few sick minded people have done it all and sadly all around the world. Such people with their shallow comprehension of life bifurcated the caregivers for simple reason of their close liaison with the effected people albeit they might get infected too. Fear is justified to an extent but foolishness and cruelty can’t be. “What if that patient is from my family?”,”What if the caregiver doesn’t come forward to my aid?” – simple questions that needs to be answered individually before venting out venom. There is also a creed of people from whom life is a mere Profit & Loss statement. Their crude mentality comes across in the absurd manner they put across this statement – “so what, don’t they get salaries?, they aren’t doing any social service?” Though a slap is an appropriate answer to such gibberish talk but holding the civility together few questions to be fired at them “would you risk your life for the same amount of salary they get?”, “would you forgo your family time to shield hopes of a stranger?”
Coming back to our focal point of discussion – How to show / convey to our caregivers that we care – Act responsibly – it sums it all. Every citizen taking care of themselves reduces the undue burden on our caregivers that might arise out of our recklessness. And for rest they are there anyways!
Special mention: They might not be counted as Caregivers but the service they render can never be discounted – Police Force & Security Forces. Irrespective of the situations prevailing in the country these forces are on their toes to make sure that we are safe in our safe havens. They dare the weather, sacrifice their family time, face the bullets and lay down their lives with a sense of pride. Don’t they deserve our recognition and appreciation?
- So what can we do to help our police personnel. Just be alert! This is the minimum how we can help them. If something antisocial is going on around us we should inform the concerned authorities in time. No tolerance of injustice is actually justice served. Even a single case less in our police stations is our way of showing our respect to our caregivers (from a different perspective) – our policemen.
- Just like our policemen are keeping us safe internally our security forces are guarding us from external forces. What is our responsibility then – we must stop fueling hatred within the boundaries in the name of caste, religion, language. Is it too much to ask for?
An orderly stable financial support is definitely an added perk to our caregivers but what brings forth their zeal to shower their care is – A bright smile, A warm embrace, An assurance of being together and around, and A responsible behaviour, period.
COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY RAJNANDINI SAHU AND KALPANA VOGETI