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Friday, June 10, 2011

Job Description: In-home Caregiver

Treasured friend,

As I’ve been playing the role for a while, I decided a job description for an adult-child caregiver of aging parents could be useful. What I came up with is a list of qualifications that pretty much transfers to any in-home, 24-7-365 caregiving job. It started as I was trying to figure out why I’ve been feeling more overwhelmed than usual—and to bolster myself because I’d been feeling less-than-productive in many areas of my professional life.

See if you have what it takes—or if you recognize your job in this list.

NASCAR driver—must be able to beat all other drivers in the hospital parking garage to the last handicapped parking spot. Why doesn’t a hospital, by definition, create more handicapped spots? I mean really!
Personal chef—microwaving leftover skills a must; defrosting skills helpful—especially understanding the use of the microwave’s defrost function and being able to operate it without assistance.
Patient companion—willingness to sit in an easy chair and watch reruns of Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts without getting frustrated over your own laundry piling up.
Ambassador/diplomat—talent to reestablish emotional calm when service providers try to force the issue of paperless billing, auto-deposit, and online bill-pay.
Psychologist—the ability to guess at what’s behind a loved-one’s question without using Freud’s theories to dig deep and place the blame squarely on one’s parents (counterproductive when dealing with one’s parents).
Translator—ability to take gleaned understanding at the meaning behind the response and explain it to other loved ones, service providers, and medical team.
Legal advisor—uncanny capacity to comprehend legal and medical mumbo-jumbo and translate it into legitimate English—this is a must. Also, a practiced hand at witnessing and signing legal and medical forms.
Banker—aptitude to understand and explain the latest round of hieroglyphics generated by the mega-bank’s computer system; willingness to do same every single time a new report comes in snail mail.
Electronics technician—must possess the skill for resetting all digital clocks on radios, appliances, and the VCR whenever the power blips; also must know everything about computers and satellite TV boxes—and be able to extrapolate exactly how the loved one got to this particular locked-up screen—again!
Medic—must be ready to kiss boo-boos and make them better. Boo-boos include insect bites, stubbed toes, mystery bruises, and test-prick wounds.
Nurse’s aide—required to produce or generate test-prick wounds; must be practiced and convincing at the mantra, “This won’t hurt at all.”
Excel spreadsheet guru—must possess the capacity to rig up makeshift fax system, log (and type accurately) test-prick results, and transmit generated spreadsheet via fax to medical team weekly.
Patient advocate—has the talents of understanding the emotionally charged reactions to diagnoses and reminding the medical team that patient is a person, not a series of test results.
Make-it-all-better specialist—a calming, soothing, understanding, listening attitude is essential!

This is only slightly exaggerated from the tasks we’ve been called on to perform this week. Maybe that overwhelmed feeling isn’t quite so groundless as I’d thought when I woke up this morning.

As I searched The Word for a bit of comfort or assurance, I found this little statement that I’ve glibly quoted in the past. It took on new meaning today—and sounded less flip as it rolled off my fingertips onto the screen: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13; NKJV).

May your list of job qualifications, like mine, always fall into that “all things” category, through Christ our loving, patient, and eminently qualified Lord.

Blessings and prayers,

© 2011, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: