People become carers for many reasons, some of them find themselves in the role unexpectedly when they are faced with either taking care of a parent or putting them in elder care, or perhaps they have a child or a spouse who becomes unable to care for themselves for one reason or another. You don’t need a certificate in caring in order to take care of someone, but if you have the 5 personal attributes listed here, your position as a carer will be much easier!
- Unending patience You may think that being a carer isn’t easy, but put yourself in the shoes of the person being cared for. Would you be happy if you found yourself unable to do all the things you’ve done all of your life? Would you be comfortable having someone tell you what you’re going to eat, when you’re going to bed, and what you’re going to wear? Would you feel relaxed asking someone to get you a drink of water or put on your socks? The answer to all of these is probably not, and that’s what you need to remember when you feel impatience towards your loved one who seems to be taking too long in the bathroom, or is refusing to get out of bed. They aren’t trying to be difficult, they are just trying to control what little of their lives they feel they can, and unfortunately you’ll pay for this in frustration as you can’t get on with the regular routine. Learn some breathing techniques to help you relax and remember to put yourself in your loved one’s position once in a while. A little empathy goes a long way in stretching out patience.
- A strong stomach If your loved one is unable to do much for themselves, you will find yourself having to clean up all kinds of things you’d probably rather not. Whether you are dealing with constipation, or its direct opposite, your stomach has to be ready to stay calm as you make light of the situation, or the person you are caring for will feel even more uncomfortable about any mess they’ve made. You may need to dress wounds that smell or look awful, but again, you need to do this efficiently so they feel OK about what you’re doing. A strong stomach goes a long way in helping you carry out some of the less attractive caring tasks!
- Good organizational skills As a carer you need to have good organization skills. There are likely to be nurses, support workers, hospital visits, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and other assorted people who will either come to your home, or will require you to transport your loved one to their location. You’ll need to juggle all the appointments to make sure you aren’t expected in two places at the same time, that you don’t miss any appointments, that all medication is given on schedule, and that the medication is always available. You also need to consider your own life (yes you are still supposed to have a life of your own) and to ensure that you have someone who can step in and cover for you so you can get out for a short while. If organization isn’t one of your strengths, you can still be a carer – but you’ll need to have a good calendar and train yourself to write all important information on it.
- Determined persistence As a carer you must have determined persistence. There are days when herding cats may feel like a more rewarding career because your loved one is refusing to co-operate with you at all. You can pick your battles because there are some things that are perhaps less important than keeping harmony in the home. Other things however will require you to dig your heels in and make sure that the person you’re caring for does what’s needed of them – such as taking medication on time, or getting them dressed in order to leave in time for a scheduled appointment.
- A great sense of humour The ability to laugh at yourself, and the situations that occur during your day as a carer is what will keep you sane at even the most stressful moments. Being able to see the funny side of things, even when you’re feeling almost at the end of your patience, is the greatest asset any carer can have.
Many of the personal attributes work together. For example determined persistence requires endless patience, and a great sense of humour will help with those strong stomach moments. Whether you are a carer now, or are considering caring for a loved one, if you possess any or all of these attributes you’ll be able survive even the most difficult of days!