The prolific writer Mohsin Hamid once said, “Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” For caregivers, this empathy is something to continually emulate, strive towards, practice. If you are looking to be a more empathetic caregiver, here is a brief guideline.
Recognize that kindness comes from understanding.
One of the best ways to practice empathic caregiving is to recognize the link between empathy and compassion. When we take the time to understand what someone is going through, it’s easier to see their perspective. This differing perspective influences our own mindset, and opens up compassionate feelings to the other individual. This is the same reason we root for protagonists in TV shows and films. When we understand someone, it’s easier to love and root for them.
Take the time to walk in their shoes.
The best way to get better at empathizing is to practice. Take a few moments to imagine what life would be like for the person you are looking after. Think of their life and the major changes they are currently undergoing. Try to remember a time where you felt out of control or underwent a massive change.
Just like other muscles, empathizing only gets stronger if you practice. So make sure to practice a healthy regiment of empathy daily.
Another great way to stay present and strengthen empathy is to practice active connection. Give your full attention to the person. This means maintaining eye contact and listening with full body language. Do not listen solely to respond, but listen to parse their meaning. Check in with their body language to see if they are communicating something to you non-verbally. The goal is to ensure that your loved one feels both seen and heard. This technique may seem difficult at first, but it only gets easier with practice.
Remember to take a step back when necessary.
We all have bad days. Sometimes a patient seems ungrateful after a day of long work. Maybe your aging loved one doesn’t like dinner or is living with sundowning syndrome. In these moments, it’s important to honor your own emotions. Practice mindfulness and step away if you feel yourself growing frustrated.
Take the time to breathe, center yourself, and then return to the task at hand. You can be a better caregiver when you honor both yourself and your loved-one’s emotional state. If you or someone you love needs home care, contact a home care agency, today.