The Care in Caregiving

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I don’t just get paid to “wipe butts…” I kiss your mom on the forehead and say “I love you, good night” every night when I help her to bed. I tell her that I hope she has sweet dreams and that I will be back in the morning to get her up. To her this is comforting, being told every night that she is loved and that someone will be there to help her in the morning. I help her pick out her outfit for the next day and tuck her in and sing her a song just to be a goof. She laughs and loves it and sometimes will sing along.

I hold your sister’s hand while she is dying. I brush her hair, freshen her up, talk to her and even sing to her while she is slowing coming to the end of her life. I tell her it is okay for her to let go, and that she is safe. I quietly advocate for her to make sure she gets pain medication if needed and that she is comfortable and has everything she needs while the end is coming. I will spend my lunch break sitting with her, so you and your family can go take a breath of air.

I am your grandmother’s friend. I sit in front of her wheelchair helping her through her moments of complete frustration and disorientation. I hold her hand and smile and tell her she is safe and that I am going to be here for her all day. I smile even if she tries to hit me or spit; I calmly reorient her by asking her about her mom’s famous chocolate cake. And when the moment is over, I give her a hug and paint her nails. I know so much about her life that I can reorient her by bringing up her children and grandchildren by name. I will play songs she likes on my phone, and I will try to learn every word to the song “New York” by Frank Sinatra and sing along with her.

So yes, I do wipe butts. To many people I am just a glorified butt-wiper and babysitter. But to me and your family, I am so much more. I am a friend, an ally, an advocate and a hand to hold when they are afraid. Trust me, they are afraid, but do not want to tell you in fear of worrying you, and that is okay. That is why I am here. I am a dance partner and partner in crime. I listen and understand. I make a difference. I am more, much more.

- Anonymous Caregiver

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