In a previous post, I've discussed how it's pretty hard to be an "average" caregiver. You're either a good caregiver or a bad one. So what does it mean to be a "good" caregiver? I think that may have as much to do with the loved one you are caring for as it does with the caregiver themselves. But I also think that success leaves clues...and that includes success as a caregiver.
Are there traits or characteristics that successful caregivers share? I think so. And I'd like to share perhaps the most important 3 traits that successful caregivers possess.
Great caregivers lead with love
There are few roles in life that are more demanding than being a caregiver for someone with a chronic illness. The stress and emotional strain can be unbearable at times. And that's why all of the logical, rational, well thought out reasons for being a caregiver can go flying out the window at those particularly stressful times. But, as they say, love endures. When a caregiver leads with love, they never wonder why. They always know exactly why they are doing what they are doing. And any commitment backed up by unconditional love becomes the easiest commitment to keep.
Great caregivers learn to connect with others
Some people "get" this right away. Others need to learn. But no one succeeds in life on their own -- especially when it comes to being a caregiver. Becoming a great caregiver requires that you learn to ask for and accept help with grace. It requires that you proactively build a social network that can serve as your safety net. It forces you to keep in mind that you're never alone, no matter how isolated you may feel at that moment.
Great caregivers remember to take care of the caregiver
Caregiver burnout is an all too frequent occurence. And it's easy to understand why. That's why it's so important for caregivers to take the time to take care of themselves. To give themselves an afternoon or evening "off." To treat themselves to that special meal. To invite friends and family into their home. To do everything possible to offset some of the stress and strain that they face on a daily basis. Because if the caregiver fails to take care of themselves, then there are 2 problems to solve -- the caregiver needs to be cared for, as does their loved one.
I'll continue to add to this list of traits, but if I had to limit myself to just three then you have them here.