People sometimes have a limited perception of what being a caregiver involves, but sometimes the things we do can be surprising.
Imagine it is someone’s 80th birthday. Let’s call her Jenny Watson. She has mild cognitive impairment. This means that her mind falls somewhere between normal aging and dementia. The way MCI affects her is:
- She forgets things a bit more frequently including appointments and events
- Loses her train of thought in conversations and when reading or watching TV
- Planning and making decisions are more difficult as are completing tasks and following instructions.
- She battles to find her way around the environments she knows.
- She has become more impulsive and shows poor judgment
But her 80th is coming up and that is a special day. As caregivers, we know that three things are very important for our clients.
- Avoiding loneliness
- Mental and social stimulation.
Once in a while, if it does not conflict with our primary care function and for a special time such as this, we try and go that little bit beyond to make our clients happy. For Jenny. We would contact her children and grandchildren and ask them to come over and bring the great-grandchildren too. Because of her condition and the size of her apartment would be wise to allow for no more than six people as we would want to avoid confusion. If she has no family or family couldn’t make it, we would fall back on her closest circle of friends.
Jane is at her best earlier in the day and so we would try to arrange for a morning tea. If money allowed, we would buy a cake. There is a good alternative though. We could bake cookies. This engages Jane more and serves as an activity to help avoid boredom.
Surprises can confuse so we would tell her it was going to happen, but there is a possibility that she might forget, so we would remind her periodically. On the day, we would be the hostess and try to insert ourselves into things as little as possible. It is after all, all about Jane and the guests.
At the end of it all, we would tidy up and wash dishes. This has been a brief insight into caring and the details we sometimes need to consider when thinking about our clients. Caring sometimes means going above and beyond the call.