When you are dealing with all the challenges of caring for a loved, be sure to put optimism on your caregiving checklist. As Theodore Roosevelt said,
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” It may seem obvious, but sometimes, when we’re in the throws of a loved one in crises, we might forget to take a breath and work through the problems one step at a time.
The Cambridge dictionary defines optimism as: the tendency to be hopeful and to emphasize or think of the good part in a situation rather than the bad part, or the feeling that in the future good things are more likely to happen than bad things. (source: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/optimism.)
But what comes first, optimism or a plan. If you have a plan, you will be more optimistic. But you need to be optimistic to make a plan. So here are a few things to combine the two when planning the care of a loved one: (think of it as an optimism checklist)
- Utilize the resources available to you. Hospitals and care facilities have social workers who can help you put together a care plan. They can help you determine the “what next” scenarios. Use that notebook we recommended on your packing checklist to take notes on your options. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to seek out other sources of information. The more information you have, the better equipped you will be to make decisions, and the better your decisions will be.
- Know your insurance benefits. It’s usually the surprises that knock us off course. If you know ahead of time, what is covered, what is not, you’re more likely to plan for success.
- Continuously be an advocate for your loved one. This does not mean, be a pain in the ass to the staff in a facility. It means be there for your loved one. Ask nicely and —here’s where the optimism comes in again—believe they want the best for your loved one as much as you do. As they say, you can catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar.
- Be kind and say Thank-You. You’d be surprised how much this simple courtesy is overlooked. Paid caregivers need to be appreciated as much as anyone. Acknowledge their efforts and you’ll get more effort. Small gestures go a long way. A card, a treat, a friendly show of interest will show them you see them as a person, which will usually be extended in turn.
- Speak up when necessary. Sometimes personalities are just not a fit. Even after you’ve made every effort to create a positive relationship with a caregiver, it may be necessary to ask for a staffing change. That’s okay. Often times, the feeling is mutual and the staff member may be happy to be reassigned.
- Put your expectations in check. Keep in mind that doctors and other health professionals are not available 24/7. This is when your notebook (from the packing checklist) will come in handy. You can keep track of questions to ask when you do see the healthcare professional. And you can record the answers to reference later or to share with other family members or other healthcare professionals.
- Take initiative. Even though there is staff present to help with the needs of your loved one, there are many simple things you can do to make your loved one more comfortable. Think of yourself as a member of the team and get a drink for your loved one, or help them get to the bathroom. Just be sure you understand any and all restrictions regarding food/drink and movement. The staff will most likely appreciate the help.
Taking action will help you achieve the self-fulfilling prophecy and get positive outcomes in your recovery/care plan.
And don’t forget your Cravaat clothing protector. It will breed optimism because it will lend more dignity than an adult bib. You CAN protect your clothes from food spills and still look stylish.
When you start with optimism and believe you can find an alternate solution to a problem, you’ll seek it out, and find one.
Sources for this article: Rita Bentley, LBSW, Senior Helpers