Be Thankful for Caregivers

Ah, Thanksgiving.  Time to pause.  Time to reflect.  Time to be thankful.

In the Policy Pub tomorrow guests will be treated to gobs of turkey, heaping piles of potatoes, corn, dressing, relishes, pumpkin pie and a pint or two of Great Lakes Christmas Ale, which never seems to be available very long after Thanksgiving no matter how much they work to increase production every year.

Tomorrow in healthcare facilities across the country caregivers and volunteers will be doing what they do every year: assuming the full responsibility of not only caring for the sick and disabled – but also caring for a fair share of lonely hearts and lost souls.  For many patients and residents of these facilities their caregivers are the most important link they have to a measure of otherwise evasive happiness.  Perhaps that’s an unfair expectation of a group that is already overworked and underpaid – but whoever said there was anything fair about healthcare.

In all of the political wrangling of the past few years that has been Healthcare Reform, it has been easy to neglect – and I have to embarrassingly admit, even sometimes forget – that nothing else really matters in healthcare if these individuals are not successful in carrying out their assigned duties.  Those of us who play a supporting role hope we are employing our talents and efforts to make those duties more productive, less stressful, and more rewarding.  Sometimes the best we can do is to just stay out of the way, which is where having a good sense of humility can be a tremendous asset to someone in a supporting role.

Few are cut out to be successful caregivers.  It takes a rare mix of compassion, mental toughness and fortitude.  And it also requires a personal reconciliation to the reality that the value they create in the lives of others can never be adequately rewarded financially.  Whether or not recognition and praise can make up any portion of that gap – and whether that really matters – I don’t know.  But I thought I would take this opportunity anyway just to be on record as being thankful and appreciative of the work caregivers do everyday in this country.


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