Your Guide to Avoiding Burnout & Surviving Grief
The January 14, 2021, CaregiverDave article “6 Best Qualities You Need To Become a Good Caregiver” lists and discusses the top half-dozen assets and abilities that they deem caregivers must have in order to perform their duties in an efficient manner.
- Patience & Flexibility
- Compassion & Empathy
- Time Management Skills
- Sound Communicator
- Optimism & Enthusiasm
- Physical Strength & Stamina
The article suggests that these tips will surely help you become a better caregiver, and that if you possess them you will never have to face caregiver stress and burnout. The article goes on to say that you will be able to do your job in an even more efficient manner if you avail yourself of services such as caregiver support groups and caregiver coaching.
Whereas I agree with the importance of the qualities and recommendations listed, I will point out that I am wary of using language and advice that indicates “must have” characteristics and “never have to face” situations. In my opinion, such language sets caregivers up for a sense of failure when expectations are not fully met.
Caregiving is not, nor will it ever be, easy.
In our book, What to Do about Mama? we also address the issue of caregiver characteristics. You will certainly find some commonalities between the two sources. But we stress more the importance of recognizing your abilities, identifying your needs, and developing your strengths.
“We think, too, that “inner strength” refers to the gifts we might have been born with. But they are also the ones that we have since developed, such as character and abilities. These qualities can all be looked at as “God-given,” if that makes self-acknowledgement easier.
Sometimes a person doesn’t know how well he or she can swim until a near-drowning situation. That’s an apropos analogy for caregiving. No one, least of all a caregiver, should ever underestimate the difficulty of the task at hand.
But if you look at caregiving as an opportunity to discover and apply the skills you may not even have known you had, it will seem much more manageable—and even positive. Look at the gifts and strengths you have, not only in character, but in other areas as well. Just because caregiving is new to you (or new in the case of caring for a senior) and particularly difficult, doesn’t mean your abilities don’t apply.
Recommendations We are addressing here the characteristics of a good caregiver, under the premise that if you are a caregiver, these are qualities you may well already embody. And, if indeed, you feel you are lacking in some of them, we recommend that you work on developing them. The following are attributes that not only facilitate performing your caregiving responsibilities but also can potentially enrich all your relationships.What to Do about Mama? pp. 262-268
We go on to list and discuss the following caregiver characteristics:
- Love, care, and compassion
- Commitment to family
- Apply knowledge and skills
- Strong work ethic
- Understand and set personal limits
- Effective communication
- Empower and facilitate