Does anyone else get overwhelmed with the needs of others? How do you manage to remain compassionate over the long haul without burning out?
I have the week off and we are on a family camping trip. I was looking forward to a week with no cable news or cell phone notifications. Turns out our campsite has a signal!
While I’m not a caregiver for any older adult per se, I spend a good deal of my work days entrenched in the specifics of people’s functional deficits. And a little break from it feels healthy.
I believe the most important self care practice is to know your own limitations and what helps you. It is not selfish to take time for yourself. Getting out into nature is a great way to take a break.
Now, back to the campfire…
One of the most wonderful parts of seeing clients in their homes and connecting older adults with long term care programs is supporting individuals and families in home settings. Along with keeping families together, it allows older adults to have their pets around, improving quality of life for all involved.
One of the most memorable pets I’ve met is Terry the cat-a very large grey cat. His owner, Marie, lives alone and has a limited support system. She told me that he comes running when she calls him Baby.
On one occasion a few years back, I brought my puppy into my workplace, which was an adult day center. One frail woman fell to her knees when she saw the puppy and held the dog with tears in her eyes. “I used to have a dog just like that and I miss her so much”, she said.
In the book, “A Man Called Ove”, there is a heartwarming subplot about his relationship with a stray cat. When Ove peacefully passes away, the cat curls up on his chest.
Pets help us to live in the present moment. It’s important to remember even when someone may be older, possibly ill or have a dementia, animals will likely provide the joy and feeling of connectedness.
I hope you enjoy this slideshow that outlines specific reasons why animals are wonderful companions for older people.
In this article, Gawande describes a different way to look at treatment of chronic health issues. The approach is based on slow and steady progress and the realization that complete cure is unlikely and that progress can be slow and incremental. There is rarely an immediate remedy and expectations are lowered. Doctors partner with patients to measure the problem and work through plans of escalating remedies. It involves continual measuring and adjusting. Medical practice can at times convey an “aura of heroism”, like a surgeon operating just in time to save a life. Data, however, shows that Primary Care (opposite of a specialist) is the area of medicine that has the greatest impact, including lower medical costs.
This approach emphasizes the importance of prevention and maintenance of health, as well as coordination among specialists for problems that have already been diagnosed.
Perhaps this approach resonates because I grew up in a household with a dad who specialized in Internal Medicine, who I believe practiced this type of medicine. He seemed to know his patients as individuals, many who were fiercely loyal.
I have also seen this approach work well in my 20 years working in the PACE model. This model sets up long term relationships between interdisciplinary health care professionals and individuals with multiple chronic health issues.
An incremental approach also would address the rapidly rising costs of health care.
It is also related to wellness, defined asis an approach to health care that promotes the prevention of illness rather than treatment of disease, or health as an actively pursued deliberate effort.
It definitely is a challenge however, because it goes against the fast pace of rapidly developing technology. Perhaps that’s the point.