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The High Stakes of Time


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There are 525,600 minutes in a calendar year.

That is a lot of time and yet sometimes feels like no time at all.

Time to laugh. Time to cry. Time to work. Time to rest. Time to think. Time to pray.

Time to (insert your life purpose here).

If we squander our financial resources, we can earn them back. We can budget better or take a second job.

If we waste today, it is gone forever. Time is incredibly unforgiving.

Tick-tock.

As caregivers, the stakes are even higher. We must not only live our own lives with purpose and intention. We must also shepherd the lives of those entrusted to our care each day. We must choose to take full advantage of the gift of shared time. We must seize each chance we have to help them create a life worth living. We must.

In senior care, the standard is regrettably low. I bristle each time I hear someone use the term "sitter." I think I am most upset because the term is far too accurate for a large number of our industry. Far too many are content to sit next to someone and play on their phone while their clients nap through one more day. Far too many relish an uneventful shift where nothing really happens.

I see far too many sitters.

I see far too few caregivers.

At each of our new employee orientations, I work to impress upon our Home Instead Senior Care caregivers the opportunity we have been given. I do not consider it hyperbole to say that our caregivers get the chance to change the world.

Caregivers change the world for our clients in countless ways both big and small. They change the world in ways no one will probably ever notice or thank them for. They even change the world for the families of the clients they serve. Our caregivers change the world.

Yes, the tactical aspect of our job is relatively simple. We help with light housekeeping, meal preparation, incidental transportation, medication reminders, and personal care. These are not terribly difficult things to do. Everything on that list can be done by a total stranger with proper instruction. Nothing on that list is caregiving.

Yes, the tasks listed above are sometimes the entry points we use. However, they are not where our journey ends. A caregiver doesn’t clock out at the end of their shift, satisfied with the magnificent job they did changing the linens on a client’s bed. We have a different standard, a higher standard.

Even as I type the word "caregiving," my computer tells me I have made a mistake. It does not recognize that word. It doesn’t know that concept.

Many of the families we are honored to serve began their journey with us in the same deficit. They didn’t know that word. They were unfamiliar with that concept.

They know now.

A caregiver is that person who comes into someone else’s life and works to give it meaning and purpose.

A caregiver is that person who isn’t satisfied to sit around the house and watch reruns of The Rifleman.

A caregiver wouldn’t be satisfied with a life that looked like that, for themselves or anyone else.

A caregiver knows the challenges of aging and meets them head on so they don’t prevent their clients from truly living each day to its fullest.

A caregiver clocks out at the end of their shift and asks one wonderfully simple question:

Was that time well spent?

Tick-tock.

Tick-tock.

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