Compassion for the Caregiver

 During the holidays, stories surface about the holidays being difficult for a great number of people struggling with illness or disability. Reporters often pause to spotlight extraordinary people trying to brighten the lives of patients spending the holidays in hospitals or nursing homes – particularly bringing attention to the wonderful efforts of nurses and hospital staff working hard at transforming clinical environments into warm and friendly places. Celebrity visitors, special meals from the cafeteria, music, and decorations fill the rooms and hospital floors; truly helping patients feel less cut off from family and friends.

Patients receive a great deal of attention (deservedly so), but when addressing the needs of the patient, the loved ones who serve as care-givers can feel relegated to the sidelines. Without diminishing any of the wonderful gestures given to patients, it is important to keep one eye on the caregiver while visiting festively decorated wards. The caregiver's health and well-being serve as the support system for the patient, yet all too often, the needs of the caregiver take a back seat.