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Why Does Everybody Assume That a Caregiver is Compassionate?

holding hands with senior
Because the very word, care-giver, combines two words that independently imply compassion.

“Caregiver” is a hybrid of the verb “to give” and the noun “care” or the verb “to care.” The title carries an equal connotation of action and emotion, suggesting not only what a caregiver does but also who a caregiver is.

Caregiving is comprised of active services and support given to persons who, due to age, infirmity, or illness, cannot take care of themselves and rely upon someone else for assistance with personal or emotional needs.

“Care” implies attention to the welfare of another person that is motivated by feelings of genuine concern for the other.

Caregivers are usually motivated by such compassion, but admittedly that is not always the case.

Is Caregiving Always about Compassion?

Studies have shown that there is a paradox to “care.” Here are a few of the cited paradoxes of caregiving:

A caregiver faces existential challenges while regulating feelings during the performance of emotional labor.
When money is introduced into a caregiving exchange, altruistic motivations to care may become compromised.
It has been suggested that women’s gendered pre-disposition to care perpetuates the exploitation of women.
These paradoxical dimensions of the caring aspect of a caregiver’s role may be manifested in a wide range of situations, such as:

A caregiver hides disgust when cleaning up urine and feces.
The guilt, anger, or resentment a family caregiver feels is suppressed beneath the daily demands of caregiving.
A caregiver is expected to do something “extra” that involves significant self-sacrifice.
“Care” is used as an emotional appeal to induce the caregiver to operate outside the expected boundaries of the role.
Under the auspices of “care,” a caregiver exploits or abuses a care receiver.
Thus, it would be a nice but faulty assumption to assume that every caregiver is compassionate or that every act of caregiving is motivated by compassion.

Having said that, in my mind there is no question that caregiving is among the noblest of human endeavors. The compassion of many caregivers I know is demonstrated through daily sacrifices of time and energy, complete focus on the wellbeing of another, and obvious gestures of love.

Select References:

Bolton, S. C. (2001). Changing faces: nurses as emotional jugglers. Sociology of Health & Illness, 23(1), 85-100. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.00242

Folbre, N., & Nelson, J. A. (2000). For love or money – Or both? Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14(4), 123-140. doi: 10.1257/jep.14.4.123

Husso, M., & Hirvonen, H. (2012). Gendered Agency and Emotions in the Field of Care Work. Gender Work and Organization, 19(1), 29-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0432.2011.00565.x

Schofield, H., Murphy, B., Herrman, H., Bloch, S. and Singh, B. (1997). Family caregiving: Measurement of emotional well-being and various aspects of the caregiving role. Psychological Medicine, 27, 647-657.

Stacey, C. L. (2011). The caring self: the work experiences of home care aides. Ithaca, NY; Cornell University Press.

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Learning from Tragedy: A Bittersweet Journey

Sometimes when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

I can honestly say that I never imagined I’d be traveling to Las Vegas to give a keynote speech on the subject of caregiving and receive a “Top 100 Healthcare Leaders” award. But that’s exactly what happened last month.

How did it happen? It’s a story of something sour that led to something sweet.

The Bitter

Nearly twenty years ago, my mother-in-law got a brain tumor. She was too young for a death sentence, but there it was, and we had no idea how it was going to impact our lives.

I was working in national healthcare policy as part of the Disabled and Elderly Health Programs Group of the federal Medicaid program at the time. Truthfully, I didn’t have a clue about what it meant to be elderly or disabled until my mother-in-law’s cancer emerged.

After a surgeon cut open Mom’s skull and removed the golf-ball-sized mass on her brain, Mom needed a place to recover. So she moved in with us to get a couple of weeks of rest.

She stayed with us for a couple of years. Mom underwent radiation and chemotherapy while in our home. Thanks to miraculous treatments, Mom’s cancer went into remission. She lived for five and a half years after her original diagnosis, but her brain was in steady cognitive decline for the rest of her life. Mentally, Mom was slowly becoming a vegetable.

As a result, for five and a half years, my wife and I served as caregivers for her mother. It was an extraordinarily unexpected and protracted and difficult thing to do, especially when trying to raise four young children at the same time.

Eventually Mom’s cancer returned with a vengeance, and we were thankful she died before her mind had entirely disappeared.

The Sweet

A year after my mother-in-law passed away, I changed the course of my career to help people in similar situations. I left Medicaid to become the owner of a home care company. In this rewarding role, I was able to assist families who were experiencing challenges incidental to age, illness, disability, and end of life care.

I could relate to every family we served because of my own experience, and I knew that our team was making a difference. As care providers, we offered welcome relief to family caregivers who were struggling to get by.

It wasn’t until I studied caregiving as a phenomenon of social science, however, that I came to understand why caregiving is so hard. The insight I gained from research was nothing short of revelatory because it explained, years later, the underlying challenges my family had faced with my mother-in-law’s condition.

Instead of providing a few hours of respite to family caregivers, today I share knowledge that changes the way people interpret the caregiving experience. It’s illuminating to talk about things experienced but not explained, things visible but invisible, things sensed but not expressed. Caregivers and care receivers understand what I’m talking about.

After a life and career redirected by caregiving, it’s reassuring when someone says, “You made a difference in my life. Thank you.” That’s exactly what happened in Las Vegas last month. What once was sour has become sweet.

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Aging Parents & Emotional Support From Their Adult Children

Dr. Aaron Blight on Quora

Caregiving consultant and healthcare speaker Dr. Aaron Blight is happy to answer questions on Quora about caregiving organizational development, healthcare consulting, senior care, and many other topics. In this month’s post, we highlight his recent answer dealing with aging parents and emotional support from their adult children. At the time of publishing this piece, Dr. Blight’s response (posted below) has nearly 500 upvotes!

When I owned my home care company, our team took care of an elderly married couple. The couple lived in a house alone together, and one of their daughters, Connie, lived down the street.

Connie had moved there in order to provide support and understanding to her parents. In connection with that support, she hired us to regularly visit her parents’ home for help.

Because of our presence in the home, we had learned that one night the couple’s son, who lived in another area, was planning to come to town to have dinner with his parents. In a conversation that morning with Connie, our employee mentioned the upcoming dinner.

Connie was startled to hear that her brother was coming to town and having dinner with their parents. “What? I didn’t know about any dinner tonight! Nobody told me that my brother was coming!”

Connie whipped up some mashed potatoes and walked down the street to join the dinner with her family.

The next morning, a fuming elderly mother called me. In her trembling voice, she yelled, “We didn’t tell Connie that our son was coming to dinner last night because we didn’t want Connie to be there!”

I can still hear the 81-year-old woman scolding me on the phone. But it makes me smile as I write about it today.

It was one of many instances within this family where the aging parents’ expectations of “understanding and support” were markedly different from what was offered by their adult daughter. On a number of occasions, the elderly mother expressed to me that she wished Connie would stop “smothering” them. In Connie’s mind, she was doing what any dutiful adult daughter would do for aging parents.

Often I have seen “understanding and support” turn into “smothering and control” as adult children get involved in the lives of their aging parents.

I have also seen situations where “understanding and support” could be better described as “disappearing and denial” insofar as aging parents assert, or adult children believe, that no help whatsoever is necessary.

Somewhere in the middle is the best you can really hope for, the best you can expect. If you are an aging parent and your adult child genuinely listens, offers help when you want it and when you really need it, and respects the decisions you have made about your life, then you’ve got a pretty good foundation of “understanding and support” that will make the waning years of your life a little easier to bear.

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A Day with Providers Serving People with Developmental Disabilities

Today I had the privilege of speaking in New York City at the Annual Conference of the Interagency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies Inc. (IAC). IAC exists to help make a better world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities living throughout New York State.

Throughout the day, I found myself remembering my days working at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It has been over a decade since I interacted so extensively with professionals working at agencies serving people with intellectual/developmental disabilities. For the last decade, my focus has been on providing services to the aging population.

Provider Issues

Today taught me, however, that there are many similarities between agencies serving people with disabilities and agencies serving the aging population. For instance, here’s a list of a few of the issues we discussed today:

  • Recruiting and retaining direct support professionals while there is a care workforce shortage
  • Adapting to financial constraints imposed by value-based reimbursement models
  • Complying with regulations that impact service delivery and administration
  • Fostering an organizational culture that promotes the hallmarks of care: empathy, compassion, judgment, and reliability
  • Confronting the social stigmatization of those who receive care
  • Providing consistently outstanding service to clients
  • Generally “doing more with less”

The truth is that every one of the above topics could have been extracted from a conference of providers serving the aging population, whether the industry is hospice, home healthcare, nursing homes, or the like.

My Favorite Moment

My favorite part of the day was the performance of the Astoria Heart & Soul Dancers and Movers. This group of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities braved the traffic and traveled across New York City to take the stage and dance for us.

iac new york

Wearing ill-fitting tutus and chasing the music’s rhythm, this distinguished group gave everything they had in a performance that was choreographed, energetic, and heartwarming. They circled the stage in a collective jive, but they also allowed the superstars to take the spotlight individually to show off their most impressive moves.

Watching them brought tears to my eyes.

When the dancers left the stage, the emcee emerged. “There’s no disability in personality,” he said. “And there’s no disability in artistic expression.”

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Family Caregiving Q&A With Dr. Aaron Blight, June 2019

Dr. Aaron Blight on Quora

Caregiving consultant and healthcare speaker Dr. Aaron Blight is happy to take the time to answer questions on Quora about caregiving organizational development, healthcare consulting, senior care, and many other topics. In this post, we will examine some of his most recent answers dealing with caregiving within the family.

How can I be a better caregiver to an elderly relative with dementia, a sore leg, and diarrhea? It’s so challenging sometimes.

Dr. Aaron Blight:

Suggestion #1: Proper medical care. With regard to the conditions you described, it’s advisable to take your relative to the doctor.

The sore leg and diarrhea might be caused by conditions that are treatable. Certain conditions that involve diarrhea can also be infectious, so you want to ensure that you’re not contracting something like C.diff, which can also be fatal. The doctor will tell you what you can do to better care for your loved one, given his or her health conditions.

Suggestion #2: Skill building. Seek opportunities to develop your capacity to care for your loved one.

While there is no cure for dementia, there are approaches to managing behaviors that can be learned. You can learn by reading books, watching videos online, attending classes or support groups on Alzheimer’s care, or even spending time in observation at a dementia care unit of a nursing home. You might start by checking out books by David Troxel.

Similarly, you can improve your hands-on care skills by taking a class or asking for some one-on-one training and tips from a professional. At my home care company, we offered extensive personal care training for our employees, but we allowed family members to participate in these classes, too. Here again, you may also benefit from online videos or observational visits in a nursing home.

Suggestion #3: Help from others. Caregiving for an elderly relative can be physically and emotionally depleting, but you don’t have to do this alone.

You can engage other people to help your loved one with the tasks of caregiving. These helpers may be other members of your family, or they may be caring professionals. Either way, by “sharing the caring” for your elderly relative, you can restore your energy and your soul – thereby finding yourself in a better place when you return to your loved one.

In addition to bringing others into the care of your loved one, you may also consider seeking help for yourself. Sometimes family members are so wrapped up in caring for their loved one that they disregard their own self-care or they’re actually unaware of how much they are struggling. Often it is a cathartic experience when family caregivers get help from professional counselors, pastoral counselors, or even support groups.

How do you be both a good Caregiver AND spouse at the same time?

Dr. Aaron Blight:

Your question presumes a dualism of roles.

What if being a good spouse of a husband/wife with care needs encompasses caregiving? If you think about it this way, you’re no longer struggling with an “either-or” proposition.

Many spouses are able to persist in caregiving tasks by changing their assumptions about the marriage relationship. They come to essentially say to themselves, “Being the spouse of a disabled or aging person includes caregiving, and I’m okay with that.”

If you redefine your relationship to allow your conjugal role to include the caregiving tasks you’re performing, then you will ultimately resolve the internal conflict you’re feeling.

I know that this is easier said than done because your relationship with your lifelong partner is not what it used to be.

Your desire to be there for your spouse – and to “do good” by your spouse – is a reflection of your love and the importance you place on your relationship.

I encourage you to talk to a counselor, pray for divine assistance, and access caregiver supports that are available in your community and online.

Things will be different, but you can do this. You will stretch, learn, and grow; you’ll also become a better spouse and human being.

When did it become necessary to get home health assistance for your parent(s)?

Dr. Aaron Blight:

My wife and I engaged professional home care assistance for her mother based on a referral from our local hospice agency. Mom received care from that company during the last two months of her life.

We wished we had called that company sooner. We had spent more than five years doing everything ourselves.

I later became the owner of a home care company to help families like mine, and then I formally studied caregiving as a phenomenon of social science.

I learned that every family, and every family member, has different capacities to care for an aging parent. In addition, your capacity to care can expand and contract, depending upon the needs of your parent, the circumstances of your life, and how you’re honestly feeling about caregiving.

So when does it become necessary to get home health assistance for your parent(s)? For some families, the answer is never. For others, the time to get help is when your parent’s needs exceed your family’s capacity to care.

That’ll be all for this edition. How do you feel about caring for aging relatives? Feel free to interact with us on Quora or email us here at info @ with your thoughts – and be sure to check back on our blog over the coming weeks and months for more Q&A with Dr. Aaron Blight!

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Getting Older Q&A With Dr. Aaron Blight, May 2019

Dr. Aaron Blight on Quora

Caregiving consultant and healthcare speaker Dr. Aaron Blight is happy to answer questions on Quora about caregiving organizational development, healthcare, support for family caregivers, senior care, and many other topics. In this post, we will examine his recent answer to a very popular question. What is different about this answer, though, is that Dr. Blight tackles the question from a societal view.

What’s the hardest part about getting older?

Dr. Aaron Blight:

I have read several of the 100+ compelling responses to this question and originally thought I don’t have too much to add to what has been expressed by other writers. Then I considered the fact that the responses I read address this question on a micro-level, at the level of the individual. I’d like to address the question on a macro-level, at the level of society.

Our society is getting older. People are living longer than ever before, with chronic conditions, and there are fewer children. In 2019, for the first time in history, there will be more people over age 65 than under age 5.

The hardest part about getting older – as a society – is that we must culturally redefine what it means to grow older, as a society.

Instead of marginalizing older adults because of their age, we should revere them.

Instead of pushing older adults into retirement homes, we should integrate them into communities.

Instead of looking upon retirement as “checking out,” we should see retirement as an opportunity to contribute in new and meaningful ways.

Instead of accepting ageism as the socially acceptable form of discrimination, we should reject it.

Instead of rushing past that old person we see in the store, we should smile and say hello.

Instead of emphasizing youthful attractiveness, we should focus on learned experience.

Instead of highlighting the disease, we should acknowledge the whole person.

Instead of treating the age 65+ population as a single cohesive unit, we should recognize the broad diversity among them.

That’s all for this edition. So, what do you think the hardest part is about getting older? Feel free to chime in on Quora or email us here at info @ with your thoughts – and be sure to check back on our blog over the coming weeks and months for more Q&A with Dr. Aaron Blight!

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As Consumers Age, Gerontologists Are Becoming Valuable Hires

benefits of hiring gerontologists
The consumer population in the United States is aging, and businesses who want to continue to grow are being forced to adapt to that reality. In order to make sure they are remaining relevant to those who are now in an older age bracket, the idea of hiring a gerontologist is quickly becoming an appealing concept. Simply by hiring someone who understands how to target an older segment of the market, brands may be able to avoid making mistakes that could cost them dearly in the end.

It’s Not That Simple

An easy mistake to make, and one that has certainly been made by businesses in the past, is to think that all senior citizens can be lumped into the same consumer category. That is just as incorrect as trying to consider all buyers in their 30s to be similar in their wants and needs. Just because seniors happen to be the same age as each other does not mean they suddenly all have the same expectations as consumers. These people remain individuals as they age, and a gerontologist can help a brand sort out exactly what kinds of expectations their target market is going to possess.

Adapt or Die

For a long time, it seemed to be the case that brands would simply build their products with younger buyers in mind – and basically force older consumers to just deal with it. Now, however, with seniors making up such a sizable part of the market, it is necessary for brands to adapt to the needs of those in their retirement years. Since the market is so big, with so much buying power, businesses can no longer afford to basically ignore this segment. After all, if one business decides not to cater properly to the needs of their senior customers, one of their competitors will be more than happy to do so.

The Right Markets

Clearly, not every business is going to be able to benefit from bringing a gerontologist onto the staff. This is a valuable field of study, but it needs to be applicable to a business’ regular operations in order to make sense. Some of the markets which have been finding gerontology to be a useful addition to their office include financial services companies like investment companies and banks. Of course, that is in addition to the companies that have long sought out people trained in this area, such as senior living facilities.

Business is Business

At the end of the day, the idea behind hiring a gerontologist is the same as anything else a business does as part of its operations – it’s an attempt to serve customers. As those customers age, some of their expectations and needs will change, while others will stay the same. Having a person or people on staff who can analyze how those changes will intersect with a company’s offering of products or services can be huge.

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Quora Q&A With Dr. Aaron Blight, March 2019

Dr. Aaron Blight on Quora

Caregiving consultant and healthcare speaker Dr. Aaron Blight is happy to take the time to answer questions on Quora about caregiving organizational development, healthcare, senior care, and many other topics. In this post, we will examine some of his most recent answers dealing with the healthcare industry.

What condition would be severe enough for a patient to require professional home healthcare 24 hours a day?

Dr. Aaron Blight:

Your question asks about not only the type of care but also the frequency of care for a loved one. This is a question that really requires a case-by-case assessment of conditions and circumstances.

The reason it’s a case-by-case answer is because caregiving tasks are always dictated by the dependencies of the care recipient. Those who provide care must address the care recipient’s unique conditions on an individual basis.

Care recipient needs have a long history of classification through the modern world of hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care. The established view of care recipient dependencies is based upon a distinction between activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), and other needs.

Caregiving tasks align across these differing spheres of dependency.

Activities of daily living (ADLs) are a standard list of personal activities that an individual is presumed to be able to do independently: toileting, transferring, dressing, bathing, managing continence, and feeding.

Over 50 years ago, these activities were indexed to create a uniform measurement tool of the needs of the aged population (Katz, Ford, Moskowitz, Jackson, & Jaffe, 1963). This Index of ADL was based upon an eight-year study of the dependencies of 1,001 elderly people, and it has been the foundation of much research on care dependencies and corresponding caregiving tasks since publication.

Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) were similarly classified in recognition of the fact that older persons commonly need help with activities in addition to ADLs. Instrumental activities of daily living include managing finances, doing housework, communicating with other people, taking medications, preparing meals, transportation, etc.

Typically within the long-term care system, when a person requires assistance with two or more ADLs, he or she is eligible for nursing home placement.

The same standard of eligibility for nursing home placement is often used by third party payers – such as long term care insurers – to also determine eligibility for reimbursable home care assistance.

Having said that, someone who needs help with 2 ADLs doesn’t necessarily need professional home healthcare 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

In addition to looking at ADLs and IADLs, here are a few discussion points to evaluate how much professional assistance you might secure for your loved one:

What does your loved one actually want in terms of help?

When at home, how safe is your loved one?

How do medical conditions and treatments factor into the situation?

What kind of informal support is currently offered from family and friends?

What kind of informal support could be available from family and friends?

Do your loved one’s needs follow a regular pattern? For example, is more help needed during night time?

Can modifications be made to the home environment to make it more suitable for your loved one’s changing conditions?

How receptive is your loved one to the idea of an outsider coming into their home to offer assistance?

As you evaluate needs – and include your loved one in the conversation – you will be able to develop a plan that balances not only safety and welfare but also dignity and independence.

How do you get a good job in Sr. Mgmt again (back in the larger market) after being out of the career for several years, caregiving for my aged parent in a small community?

Dr. Aaron Blight:

First, kudos to you for the sacrifice you have made on behalf of your parent. Your offering of self to your loved is a reflection of your character, values, and commitment to the people who matter most.

You’ve probably discovered that job hunting is dramatically different from what it used to be, thanks to the digital transformation of everything. For someone who has been out of the workforce for years, this can be overwhelming.

When you were in senior management several years ago, you knew that the best way to find a job was through networking. Remember that? Networking is when you actually talk to real human beings, and they tell you of job opportunities and maybe even help connect you with one.

It’s the same today.

The best way to find a job is still through networking, except today there are new ways to network.

The good news is that behind all of that digital stuff there are real human beings!

The internet makes it possible for you to expand your network online, using the many social media platforms that are available. As a person who has been in senior management, you may want to start an online networking effort through LinkedIn. Here are some reasons why:

Linkedin by the Numbers (2019): Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts

There are many human beings on LinkedIn who are in positions to help you return to the workforce.

Start by reaching out to people you know – friends and former colleagues – explain that you’re getting “back in the saddle” and would appreciate any help they can offer in finding a job. Connect with those people on LinkedIn. Ask them if they can refer you to someone they know in your field, and then you can also ask to connect with that newly referred contact via LinkedIn.

Here are a few suggestions for connecting on LinkedIn with someone you don’t know:

include a personalized message when you ask to connect – explain what prompted your request.

if the person accepts your request, say thank you and comment on something you learned about them from their profile.

ask if the person would have a few minutes for a phone call.

prepare for that phone call.

make sure to follow up, as appropriate, after the phone call. Your follow-up might lead to an eventual face-to-face meeting.

If you get to that face-to-face meeting with a real human being who happens to be a decision maker, then you have penetrated the digital veil and given yourself a huge advantage in being “top of mind” when that decision maker needs to hire someone. Alternatively, that decision maker could actually refer you to another human being who is hiring – now.

Your future employer should look upon the years you spent caregiving as an indication of your dependability, loyalty, and strength of character. If you meet a prospective employer who dismisses or scoffs at the portion of your life that you devoted to the one who gave you life, then you probably wouldn’t want to work for them anyway.

You still have the qualities that made you a senior manager before you assumed full-time caregiving responsibilities. Management skills are in huge demand today. You may not be up on the latest technology, but you can learn all of that stuff. As you focus on what you have to offer and authentically acknowledge your caregiving sacrifices, real human beings will be impressed and want to hire you.

What’s the hardest part about getting older that no one ever talks about at all?

Dr. Aaron Blight:

Your question made me think of this statement from Dr. Mary Pipher:

“When people are in their thirties, they worry about losing their looks. In their fifties, they worry about losing capacities. By their seventies, people worry about losing everything – control, relationships, and their very lives.” (Quote from Pipher’s book, Another Country, p. 159.)

Aging is a series of losses. Personally, I think the hardest parts of getting older are found in the losses that people don’t want to talk about.

Loss of looks, loss of physical senses, loss of bodily control, loss of functional independence, loss of friends and family, loss of memory, loss of financial security, loss of purpose, loss of hope, loss of self – all of these can potentially creep into the lifelong passage we call aging.

Some of these losses are easier to discuss than others. In addition, what one person may find easy to discuss can be an especially challenging topic for someone else.

Cultural narratives about getting older often focus on the losses and rarely examine the gains.

But a lot can be gained in getting older. If you really think about it, many of the gains stand opposite the losses mentioned above.

Gain of independence, gain of friends and family, gain of memories, gain of financial security, gain of purpose, gain of hope, gain of self. I’d add gain of wisdom, gain of perspective, gain of appreciation of the present.

We all benefit from open and honest discussions about getting older – the reality of aging reaches every one of us – and it’s helpful to acknowledge the bad as well as the good.

That’s all for this edition. Check back in over the coming weeks and months for more Q&A with Dr. Aaron Blight!

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Care for Others, Care for Yourself

Today I had the privilege of delivering the keynote address at Beloved Foundation’s REACH Oncology Symposium at the University of California Riverside. Attendees were from oncology-related organizations, including healthcare providers and advocacy groups, with professional backgrounds in nursing, social work, and patient advocacy.

Regardless of organization or official role, it was apparent that each person in attendance is passionate about helping cancer patients. Most (if not all) have a personal connection to cancer that prompted them to do this work. While the Symposium didn’t include patients, I could easily see the commitment these good people have to providing relief and assistance to patients and their families.

As a bit of an experiment, I asked attendees to turn to the “neighbor” sitting next to them and describe the work role that prompted them to attend today’s meeting. After a minute of discussion amongst themselves, I invited the entire group – by show of hands – to share if the “neighbor” talked about their role in terms of others or in terms of themselves. Every single attendee spoke of what they do in terms of other people.

I wasn’t surprised by the show of hands. People who enter caring professions usually have altruistic motivations and find intrinsic satisfaction in service to others.

Often these most admirable qualities are also what lead caregivers to prioritize the needs of others over their own personal needs. An unfortunate and unintended consequence can be compassion fatigue – a state of physical, emotional, and/or spiritual depletion associated with caring for others.

In the ensuing discussion, we talked about the importance of not only caring for others but also caring for yourself. It’s not selfish to acknowledge you have needs. Caregivers are always more effective if they nurture body, mind, and spirit, recharging their personal batteries and developing the resilience to carry on for those who depend on them.

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How to Start an Eldercare Business

elder care worker
As a society, it is extremely important that we take good care of those in the older generations. Senior citizens decline in their ability to care for themselves as they age, and it is the responsibility of those in younger generations to make sure the seniors have everything they need for a comfortable and fulfilling lifestyle. If you’d like to make a career out of caring for those in their retirement years, you may find the ideas in this article to be helpful.

It Starts with Services

In order to be successful in this market – or any market, for that matter – the first thing you need to think about is what services you will offer. What do seniors need, and how can you provide it to them for a reasonable cost? The exact list of services you select will be up to you, but some basic ideas include doing household chores, spending time talking with the individual for companionship, taking pets for a walk, running errands, and more. If you take a few minutes to make a list of the things seniors are likely to need help accomplishing, you should wind up with plenty of ideas to get things started.

Some Characteristics

Your success with an eldercare business will be based on a variety of factors. You need to pick the right services to offer, as mentioned above, and you need to price those services correctly. You’ll also need to find the right market and advertise in a way that is going to win you clients. In addition to those points, it’s also important that you demonstrate the right characteristics to build a business that thrives for years to come. Some key characteristics include the following –

• Highly organized to avoid missing appointments
• Compassionate, valuing the feelings and satisfaction of your clients
• Understanding of the challenges that come along with caring for seniors
• Personable enough to develop relationships and earn referrals

While you can certainly learn some of the skills and traits you need to demonstrate to run this kind of business, it probably won’t work if the list above is a huge departure from your normal personality. Think carefully about your personal traits and whether they would be a good match for this type of operation.

Trust, Trust, Trust

To be invited in to care for someone, that individual needs to trust you. Whether it is the senior choosing to hire you, or one of their loved ones, you need to find a way to establish trust right from the start. The best way to do that is through referrals. Find a way to earn one or two initial clients – perhaps family friends or some other connection – and do a great job. From there, ask for referrals frequently and you should be able to pick up clients on the strength of being recommended by those you have already served. With any luck, the cycle of referrals will continue into the future and you can build a thriving business as a result.

At Caregiving Kinetics, we are pleased to offer a variety of services to help those in the senior care industry. If you would like to find out more about our eldercare business coaching, contact us today!