When I reflect on some of the caregivers I’ve worked with over many years, I recognize them as some of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever known. Caregivers have always been my heroes; from the days when I watched them care for far too many patients at one time in a nursing home, to the following years doing home care, I’ve been in quite awe of them. The dedication, the patience, the gentleness, and of course the plain hard physical work. Transferring and bending over bedridden patients all day and night in order to do personal care, and assisting patients from bed into wheelchair or back into bed.
There are caregivers I remember, having amazing energy and utter dedication to their patients: Pat at Redwood who though only just shy of five feet, could handle a larger patient as artfully as a dancer on a stage; or Jose who was always kind and respectful to his patients; or Regina, Maria, Sol, Megan and Cecilia who were faithful in years past and continue to be faithful to one man for nearly a decade. There’s Barbara who daily amazes us with her skill and her humor in making life lovely and worth living for my longest standing client. There’s dear Priscilla with equal parts sweet and savvy.
I continue to be humbled and inspired by the men and women who care for others as their life calling. The caregivers who are not given all the respect due to them by a culture who doesn’t value caring for children or elderly at home. Caregivers who don’t have the titles, the prestige or power of the licensed health care professionals they work with. They are however the most important factor in care for the elderly.
Nurses, care managers, doctors, therapists, come and go. Caregivers stay with their client’s day in and day out. They love those that don’t have any family left, they are friends to those whose friends have mostly died, they are surrogate sons and daughters to soothe the ragged edges of loneliness that turns into a slow torture as the days and years drag on.
There must be a special crown for these faithful caregivers in heaven. I would like to see them start to wear it here on earth.