What have I lived? And what have I learned? Those are powerful questions to ask as we flow in and out of encounters of various kinds. For 12 years, I worked as a 1st grade teacher, a speaker, a tutor and a professional care giver for the elderly ~ all at the same time!
What did I learn?
As a care giver, I learned that with each case, I was actually walking into people’s lives. Though I'd never met them before, I instantly become privy to the most intimate details of their lives.
As a professional care giver, your job is to assess as quickly as possible what they need most of all, quickly insert your service, and leave helping them to feel good and productive about their day.
It is helpful to glance across at the evidence of who they are and where they’ve been: photos on walls, awards, plaques, type of furniture, hobbies, etc., anything that will give you little clues that you will need to better serve them. See in your mind’s eye, the timeline of their life. They had a childhood, a job history, romances, hobbies, collections. They have a life and you are there to enhance it.
If you will do this, you will love them, really love them, and feel it a special honor to get to walk beside them for a moment in time. Your job is to give them a happy day. They won’t be able to explain it, but they will feel special and important. The burdens of age, disease, poor health habits, poor life choices, or whatever, has stopped them. They feel sidelined from life. Lift that burden for they won’t get better if you don’t. Remind them what it felt like without that burden. You will lift a lot of things while you are there: food trays, feet, blankets, even their whole body as they move into a shower or a bed; but what you must see is what is invisible, the burden, you are really lifting their burden. If you will do this, then it all becomes light, even the wheelchair doesn’t seem heavy anymore. They may not be able explain what you’ve done for them, but they won’t forget it. They will be encouraged to live happier after you have gone.
If you will do all this, you will know joy because this way of looking at your client becomes a way of seeing all people. People are the precious miracles that we interact with all day long. Too often we are so self-absorbed that we brush by strangers unaware. They too are in a moment on their life’s timeline. Respect that. Be intrigued by that. Love that and you will love them. This way of interacting with people, whether your own family or total strangers, will help you in your own life’s journey. You will live each day as a gift, as an adventure, and you will live well.