Caring is not for the fainthearted

I may just be jumping the gun here, as I am only 4 days into my first ever caring position. Before starting this journey, I had romanticized how I would be caring and helping friendly people, (in my mind if you are friendly to someone they will be friendly back), sitting together chatting, watching TV, making lovely meals for people who would appreciate your help and expertise in the kitchen, sharing life stories etc etc – you get the picture. I was going to get paid, for caring and looking after people, at the same time travelling and seeing different places and meeting new people.

Hmmm – have I got that wrong. I know it must be hard having a stranger come into your home and do things for you that previously you could manage doing all by yourself, I get that.  I also get that obviously each placing will be different with different requirements.

The part that I am really battling with is the total isolation as an individual (maybe being incredibly homesick isn’t helping).  The lifestyle of a carer is not a healthy one.  You are on call 22 hours a day (and yes we were told this in training, but in training and listening and imagining is totally different to real life scenarios).  You are demanded of and obviously need to be pleasant and helpful with every demand – because you are being paid to do this.  Communication on a daily basis is what is taking place on Emmerdale * and what the weather is like.  Not the most stimulating conversations day in and day out.  So that rules out one of my purposes of taking this on – meeting people.  I enjoy my alone time, but also thrive on interaction.  For these first two weeks my sole company is 1.

Purpose 2 – care for people – all well and good, but it is really hard to keep positive when the person you are caring for, resents the fact that you are there caring for them.

Purpose 3 – travel and see places I wouldn’t normally see. With only 2 hours off a day, when all you actually want to do is curl up in a ball and tell the world to leave you alone, as all your positive energy gets drained trying to erase the negativity around you, not much time to experience and soak up the atmosphere of the little towns you may be visiting.  You cannot go and visit a local pub over a glass of wine and enjoy the camaraderie.  Its the isolation that is killing me and I have only been doing this for 4 days, how am I going to survive 3 months.

I have been bending my family’s and friend’s ears and really don’t like to complain, which I feel that is all I am doing – trying hard to find good here, but this job is for a totally selfless individual and I am realizing, especially with all the self talk going on in my head (and wow is it noisy) that I am a selfish person and though I care deeply for people, this walk in life may just not be for me.  I enjoy my freedom, of being able to pop into a restaurant for a bite with friends, not be dictated to that I can only make personal calls during my 2 hour break every day, go for a run, eat the food that I like/want to eat, not have to tiptoe around all day without the fear of disturbing anyone, basically just live a normal healthy life and as I said in an early paragraph, the lifestyle of a carer is not a healthy one.

Yep I am selfish – this does not change the fact that I will still care for other people, but that I also need to care for myself and even though the money is really good, it is not good enough for me to give up my freedom.  Have to admit that writing this blog post has helped clear my mind and get things into perspective a bit, so thank you for your indulgence.  So going to get through my commitments, but it is back to the drawing board.

And now have to sign off … being summoned ……

* British soapie

13 thoughts on “Caring is not for the fainthearted

  1. Give it a chance Cathy. Some assignments are wonderful. I had a friend who did caring for a while in the U.K. And she did have some grotty ines but also some GREAT ones. Hang in there.

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  2. Hi Cathy, I definitely could not do what you are doing. I do not know anyone who could. Professionals caregivers in the USA usually do a day shift, swing shift or a night shift. They are not expected to lose their own lives while helping others.
    I think that you have been put in a pretty unrealistic position by this organization.

    Of course, I am from a completely different culture, but if there is no way to modify your hours, you are pretty much a captive. I guess like other things in life, this is a learning experience. I just hate that this lesson limits your freedom so much.
    Sharon

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  3. Hang in there, you could get a lovely client and things will improve. I did caring for 5 years and echo most of your sentiments, but did get some lovely clients and chose to only go to them….takes time to find them but they are out there and they and their families make it all worthwhile 😄

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  4. People in general react two ways to limited physical conditions: either swearing or calmly. They either get compassionate for everyone or angry. The angry ones are sometimes the ones who cared for everyone else and used to be strong. The calm ones sometimes realize that nothing can be done about it. It takes centering on your purpose, and on hitting them in their hearts about their purpose. They don’t mean to be wimpy and unmotivated and sitting calmly around doing nothing. They don’t meant to be making their own and everyone else’s life miserable and disregarding the things they can still do, like be polite. You are allowed to ask them if they were born in a barn? or didn’t your mama teach you better manners than that? say thank you! Once you get them back on track they will respect you, and maybe, maybe, in the long run, even thank you (or tell the next person who takes care of them about how you helped them get out of their funk.) It sounds like you are reacting and engaging with your people as if they are allowed to take away your joy, rather than molding them into your program of joy. You are the caretaker, not the goofy court jester. Don’t fall down, dance around and make fun.

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    1. Understand your sentiments 100% Kate. I am in no way taking away how difficult it is for those who previously were living full lives to have that all taken away from them – and each person copes in their own way. I believe that long term live-in carers deserve the highest respect and it takes a person who is willing to be self sacrificing to do it properly – I really thought I could do this and this is going to be an expensive lesson to me emotionally and personally that I find I am not that person, which does not make me any less caring.

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  5. Welcome to the World of Careing. 12 years plus experience has taught me, plenty. I gave lived in homes that look amazing from the outside and are tips on the inside. Met wonderful appreciative, interesting people and selfish nasty people and the folk in between.
    Two things I find don’t change, the loneliness, and the limited time, to gind yourself each day. Your room becomes your sanctuary.
    One carer Said tight at the beginning,you leave your life at the gate when you start and pick it up again when you leave. That was in the days of bad / non existent mobile phone signals. And catching up on e nails at a local library.
    We’ve come a long way.
    Give this new life style a chance.
    You’ll know if it’s girls you.
    My one piece of advise is get out of situations that are toxic. No one will look after you like yourself.
    Good luck. Xxxx

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  6. It gets better…you just have to have an enormous sense of humour,and you will get to see all the little villages. I have been doing it for about 12years now. Hang in there!

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  7. It’s so much harder than I ever thought as well when I first arrived 4 years ago.. But I was born and grew up in Hampshire before my parents emigrated to SA when I was 13 so it wasn’t totally new for me… I came here to travel the country and have an adventure…4 years on it’s been great, seen lots and been almost everywhere including a few trips to Europe…but now it’s time to go home…I am tired of being at someone’s beck and call 24/7…of not having my measly 2 hour break 5 days in a row because my client doesn’t like the new relief carer.. I am mentally done…so next year I am on the plane one last time homeward bound…this chapter needs to be closed now..I need to reconnect with family and friends but most importantly with MYSELF!

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  8. Please hang in there and relax a little. I made my first client’s wife cry (15 years ago) because she was such a Bitch and treated me like a slave. I didn’t take her Crap for long and walked down the road heading for the closest 🚌 bus stop. She kept calling after me to come back. I let her waiting for 10 minutes and went back. She apologised and we were best friends after that. I stayed there 6 months and went back several times. I adored her husband! Don’t be so hard on yourself and remember it’s your home while you’re there and not just work. I use my phone whenever I need to (don’t take advantage) There are amazing people out there who will treat you as family. I love my lady at the moment. Hate leaving her when I need to have a week off. I eat what I want. She appreciates me every day. She often makes ME a cup ☕️ of tea. My daughter comes to stay (with her dog) for weekends. It doesn’t have to be so difficult and lonely 😭 You mustn’t be afraid of your client and getting fired!!!!!!
    Do some gardening. You are not expected to hover over your client. I tell mine to call me when she needs me (out of normal daily routine)
    I watch the odd program with her but I am not joined at the hip. They usually like you around but need their own space. You need your own space. Believe in yourself and good luck 😉

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  9. Understand completely. Been there.Be thankful you aren’t being bullied as well…..endured it ad nauseum.Sadly we sometimes only learn by experience.

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  10. A well written article that cuts to the chase. Isolation and incredible lonelines. I have always liked my own company but one might as well be in solitary confinement. A few clients are gems. Most are not. It’s the same thing day in and day out. You are living someone else’s life….eating when and what they want and watching what they want to watch. A thought provoking article.

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  11. Hello new carer. You can do it! And when the going gets tough – start counting. Ie. 1 rand, 2 rand etc etc. 16 years later, I have made some wonderful friends, paid off the mortgage, travelled and done lots of other things. There is job satisfaction with the ‘right’ client. Hang in. 16 years and still going strong.

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