Dolan Memory Care Homes has been fortunate to work alongside with Washington University as a training site for social workers. Each semester, Dolan teaches and serves over 20 students seeking a health care profession. Washington University recognizes Dolan as an innovative long term care community for older adults with a memory impairment. One of the students during this past semester eloquently wrote a reflection with caregiving:
During my time in this field, one area I have grown to appreciate is care giving. While working with adults in full-time care communities, I have listened to their loved ones respond to us professional caretakers gratefully, assuring us that the time they spent caring for their loved one alone was more taxing than they would like to admit. With tears in their eyes, I see the guilt and gratitude—guilt that they could not care for their mother or father or spouse, and instead, moved them into a long-term care facility; and, gratitude that their loved one is in gentle, caring hands.
She shares during the coronavirus pandemic, caregivers owe themselves more grace and patience. Caregiving in itself leads to burn out, but with shelter in place orders, the stress will skyrocket to a new limit. She translated her observation to wise sentiments:
To professional caregivers: You give up time with your own family to care for the family of strangers. You ease their fears and the anxiety that comes from lack of control over the state of their loved one.
To caregivers of a loved one: Your hours of unpaid labor do not go unnoticed. Your efforts and sacrifices are seen. Know that you are not only essential during a pandemic, but always, and that the work you do is invaluable. Prioritize rest and nutrition for yourself, for sleep and adequate meals are what will fuel your body for the taxing hours ahead. Take intermittent moments during a care recipients’ meal or nap to take a breath, remind yourself that we thank you for your courage, and that your health matters just as much as the person you care for.
Right now, more than ever, it is essential for caregivers—whether professional or not—to care for their own minds and bodies.
To readers: if you know someone care giving, reach out to them, offer to run an essential errand they may need accomplished, and offer up a time to catch up during a virtual social hour.
Dolan Memory Care Homes recognize the honor and privilege to partner with students seeking a career in geriatrics. We wish to continue inspiring minds to pursue geriatrics and enjoy learning the latest advancements from the students.