Being a caregiver can be both draining and uplifting. The people I work with are often fragile. They have damaged bodies and/ or minds. Some have broken psyches. Yet it is a precious thing when you know you have made a difference one day at a time.
Working with the family can be challenging. They have expectations and different perspectives than you. This creates confusion and frustration at times. As an example, yesterday was my last day on a difficult case. The man had PTSD from his time in Vietnam. He had also lived alone for many years and had developed some antisocial habits.
This man was noncomplant with his medications and virtually every other activity of daily living. He had mannerisms that were offensive. He repeatedly spoke about wanting to die. Depression was evident. He is a heavy smoker. His mind couldn’t get past his difficulty walking due to a stroke. Not only that but he had Obsessive Compulsive behaviors. He was reactionary to most situations. His mind would get caught in a loop, circling around his mobility problems, focusing on the negatives, unable to see solutions, only concerned with his leg and his inability to walk independently.
As a caregiver, this case demanded fortitude and endurance. His Power of Attorney loved this man but didn’t see some of his more offensive behaviors. The chain of information was sketchy. For instance, she was upset because she thought I was complaining about the fact that that he hadn’t taken his medications and thought it was me who complained. She was told it was my last day and was upset. She reacted to the continuing medication issue. I hadn’t raised the issue that day but the physical challenges of not taking his medications was evident.
She was also upset that I didn’t make food for him, bring it to work and go food shopping for him on my own time the way another aide did. Mainly she was upset I was leaving when the client was happy with me. She was also upset I charged mileage even though it was stated in the contract.
It is rare that I give up on a case. I tend to like the people I work with. But I am learning it is okay to occasionally be selective. I need to do what is necessary for myself. And I have learned my needs have to come first because at the end of the day, I need to feel I have been a force for good.
I am not a quitter as a rule. I was on one case for 3 1/2 years where the Alzheimer’s affected woman would become violent when she didn’t want to do something like taking a shower. I loved this woman and was with her until her death.
However, I have learned there are always other caregivers to take over. I am not the only person who is competent. And I am more effective if I am happy in the case. I am less likely to suffer burnout if I feel like I am making a positive change. I always give my best, but life is a lot easier when you want to be where you are. Knowing your limits is essential. It is something I had to learn the hard way.