Getting to Know Your Caregiver in Assisted Living

caregiverLife for a caregiver can be difficult sometimes. It is truly a tremendous responsibility to efficiently look after another human being that is not your child or a family member. But what few people ever write about how a patient can become more to a caregiver. Yes, it is the job of a caregiver to take care of you and for the most part they will have to adapt to you and your lifestyle. However, a good relationship with a caregiver can bring so many more rewards than just having someone to bring you medicine, treat your small injuries, or clean up after you. Like you, they are also people with friends, family, stories, and interests. Having a caregiver is a direct opportunity to make a new close friend. Indeed there may come times where they see you in states that not even some of your closest friends ever see you in. They may be the one assisting you in bathing or tending to you when you need a bedpan emptied. In those times it always more comforting to know that you are with a friend and not just a hand-for-hire. Here are some ways you can get to know your caregiver(s) better and open the door for a genuine friendship that may grow to be worth more than you ever imagined.

Leisure Games

Yes, this one is sort of “duh” but it is only an opening to establish a little bonding. A card game, dominoes, or chess can be a great way to really break the ice in communication. Plus you’ll get a good idea of what your caregiver is like through a little competition. Maybe they’ll be laid back and let you win, maybe they’re not that good at games and don’t care, maybe they’re ultra-competitive and will want to keep playing you. You’d be surprised what you can tell about caregiver during a few games of dominoes, especially if they are doing that than off somewhere else on their break/downtime. If they are live-in caregiver at your home this sort of thing is definitely easy to initiate.

Share Something Memorable About Yourself and Have Them Do The Same

Don’t be afraid to share something about yourself with your assigned caregivers. More often than not elder folks have some great stories to tell and the closer you become with them the more personal the stories will become. What you want to do is get them to share details of their life with you, not just the “Oh I go bowling every Saturday, I have one kid” and so on. Most caregivers are not snobbish or self-absorbed, how can you be given the nature of the job? The more you share with them, the more they will share back. Eventually you will find some common ground and that is when fun begins.

Don’t Be Overly Critical and Recognize Their Efforts When They do Something Well

Every caregiver will have a bad day now and then. On days where someone is giving them a particular hard time, be the one to bring them up. Maybe there is something going on personally. Even if you can’t relate to them ask them questions about it and find some way you can offer advice. In life the surest way to make friends is to be the reason they got to relax or smile that day. In the case of a caregiver if you can put a smile on their face, you could have just made their work the best part of their day. That is rarer than you think today.

Never Be Afraid to Poke Fun at Yourself

This one may seem odd but it is actually the key to developing the close friendship where you can really joke with one another on a more personal level. If one day you trip and fall or can’t find the remote, loosen up and make fun of yourself for it by saying “It ran and hid from me, I swear”. When you are feeling particularly embarrassed or uncomfortable in a more persona situation, such as them helping you to the restroom, counter it by complimenting your caregiver’s efforts. Some may not believe it but making others feel better when you’re embarrassed can actually help that timidity go away.

A Small Gesture or Gift

NO, this is not to buy affection. It is meant to be something that recognizes the caregiver’s passion or interests and show them they have truly become more than just a hired hand. Not only is it a grand gesture, but it ensures that they will always remember you with a smile. Give them something that you already own that is significant or even something that will remind them of your time together. The year I watched my Seattle Mariners in the 1995 playoffs was one of the funnest times I ever had and I saw most of those games, including Griffey’s winning run, with a family friend that I was caring for, Clyde. Clyde was a Yankees fan and I’m sure was disappointed in their loss but nonetheless he wore this old raggedy Yankees hat every game we watched them play in. When our time came to an end he gave me that hat and while I never wear it, I still have it and will never ever discard it because it reminds me of a friend.

For examples of outstanding caregivers who made an impression, check out these reviews found on

Guest Post by Martha June Whitman

Martha June Whitman is a health writer and former geriatric caregiver. Not a significantly talented writer but one that likes to share her knowledge and experience anyway she can. She does so writing for National Incontinence, a site that specializes in incontinence underwear and other various products for the elderly.


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