Maintainable Boundaries

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.-Mark Twain

The idea presented by Mark Twain is what most of us see the elderly community utilize as the backbone to their thought process. In all actuality it does matter, no matter your age or respect level. It is important for us caregivers to keep our clients thinking they should treat us with respect. Respect entails far more than just the conversations you have with someone and reminding your clients when you become uncomfortable is important. Being a caregiver for a family member can muddle the lines of professionalism. Ensure that you take back the control of a conversation when it gets unbridled and let the client know you have boundaries.

Our elderly community comes from a different time where respect was given to elderly people no matter their social standing or educational level. Because of this mentality we have a generation that says what is on their mind because it is the truth. Some of you think it is funny, some take offense, and some can just ignore the crude behavior or comments. It is important you remind your client to treat you with respect no matter your age. It is also important to remember that because they might say something not politically correct or an off color joke that you cannot react inappropriately. Remind your client that you are uncomfortable and they might have thought that was genuinely okay.

When asking your client to respect you it is important to have clear boundaries. If you know certain topics make you uncomfortable make sure to direct conversations to stay clear of those topics. It is your duty as the caregiver to keep and make your client feel safe. If you do not like your client due to topics they speak of make sure to speak up and remove yourself from an uncomfortable situation. Remember if you are uncomfortable they probably are too.  Speaking up and telling a client even if it is a loved one, may upset the client but in most cases they will understand or get over the issue with time. Be aware of how to redirect conversations to a neutral ground and try to keep things light. We all have our ideas of what is appropriate or not appropriate but make sure that the boundaries that are being established are immovable and maintainable.

Don’t be afraid to keep yourself comfortable and safe while caring for someone else. Often times, caregivers find themselves in a burnout period and a lot of that has to do with allowing the client to negatively affect them or treat them poorly. Whether you are working as a professional caregiver or a family caregiver, establish your own comforts and boundaries before even starting out in a home. If you are already in a home, work out the boundaries together with the client so that everyone can be on the same page. There may be tough times and there may be some moments where unkind words are spoken but the client will respect and appreciate the willingness and honesty of the situation.