My day job is not an easy one. Taking care of people is not an easy or simple task. There’s times when you have to put a lot of muscle in or help people to the bathroom. Anyone who is a caregiver knows that caregiving is an under appreciated work. It may be tough but I really love what I do.
As an occupational therapist, the daily tasks that we do each day like bathing and dressing become affected by an injury. Most people never give a second thought about our functional abilities until we lose function. As a person with health, we forget how lucky we are.
I see people at their lowest state many times. More people are living well into their late 80’s and 90’s fairly independently. A sudden fall or illness can completely change their life and trying to get to the toilet is extremely difficult. It’s also frustrating to go from needing no help to being completely dependent for your basic care.
Many of my patients come to me very depressed. I hear a lot of crying and sadness in their voices. I remember being told a long time ago that health professionals should not get emotionally involved with their patient because it will cloud your thinking when dealing with them. I can’t stand there and not feel compassion for the person. I’ll take the time to listen to what they desire and need. Sometimes I have to a little extra thing for them that isn’t necessarily part of the job but will make them feel better. Giving a warm cup of coffee with the exact the amount of sugar and can bring comfort to a person who isn’t feeling well.
I also share a hug with my patients when I see that they need one. We sometimes shed a little bit of tears together at times. Many of my former patients will come back and visit me too and thank me for being there for them at their lowest point. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that what I did for them helped restore their function. I love running into them in the community too.
As I work with the many patients, they each become a thread in my tapestry of memories. I learn their life stories and it has enriched my life a hundredfold. I’ve heard amazing stories of bravery and great loss too from seemingly ordinary people.
There are so many amazing seniors alive today who have so many stories to teach the younger generations of we stop and listen. I’m blessed to have a job that has given me a very rich life. In a world where we are thrown millions of messages each day, there are some that we need to hold onto forever. It’s the ordinary people around us who enrich our lives with their stories.
Being able to make people’s lives better with one’s own actions is truly a gift each and everyone of us has. We can choose to be generous to others or focus on ourselves. I give that gift to each person I take care of because it’s about life, a good quality of life. My life is so full of good memories shared by others who each taught me something new. Taking care of our fellow human is what we were all meant to do in life in some form. If we all took time to look at the wealth of the people power around us a bit closer, we’d probably be better off doing that.