The Second Hardest Job: Professional Caregiver

Since we started Support For Home In-Home Care, we have consistently said that the hardest job in the world is that of the family caregiver.  From the beginning, we were aware of the fact that over 60% of family caregivers die before the person for whom they are caring.  We still firmly believe that, from our own families’ stories, as well as working with our clients and their families.

When the business began, my folks needed some support to stay at home safely and with a high quality of life.  Over the past few years that need increased, and my two sisters up in Oregon were fantastic about ensuring they got what they needed.  Unfortunately, both of my parents passed away this year, but the hard work and devotion of my sisters were critical to helping them and the rest of us through that experience.

Even before our home care agency was rolling, my co-owner’s experience was a critical learning experience.  Her father had a stroke in his early 90s, and her mother was the primary caregiver.  Her mother was younger, but the stress on her, physically and emotionally, were dramatically apparent, including developing Diabetes.

But, if being the primary, family caregiver is the hardest job in the world, being a professional caregiver / Home Care Aide, is a pretty close second.  That is so not just because of the duties that Home Care Aides perform.  It is also true because they choose to work with, to support, folks that they know have a high probability of losing at some time in the future.  Perhaps that loss will be to s skilled nursing facility or to a family home in a different location or — the worst loss, of course — the death of the client.

Professional caregivers know this, not just on the level of statistics and probability, but on a very personal basis.  When we interview the professional, experienced Home Care Aides that we want for Support For Home, one of the questions we always ask goes something like, “Why and how did you become a professional caregiver, and, after you learned how hard it is, why is this still your profession?”

The typical answer we get back, with sincerity, from the folks we tend to hire, is, “But this job isn’t hard!  I love what I am doing.”  Those same wonderful people will tell you — have told us — when someone they are caring for dies, “You never, ever get over it.”  And, we know they do not get over it.  But their passion for caregiving carries them forward to the next or their other clients.  With grieving, yes, but without a loss of passion.

We would love to tell you their names and their stories, but privacy for both the employee and the client prevents that.  We will find a way.  But in the meantime, thank you to every single person who has taken care of a Support For Home client the way they should.  No, thank you to every professional caregiver out there who has worked at any other agency and made a positive difference in the lives of seniors and others who need help living at home. You have the second hardest job in the world.

Best wishes, Bert


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