Describing empathy as a lubricant creates visuals in my head like the annoying squeaky door hinge that finally gets some W-D40. A lubricant softens rough edges, makes things work better, and a little bit goes a long way. I think the same is true when we approach situations that we encounter in work and life from a place of empathy.
Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another. Alfred Adler
When we do as Alfred Adler suggests, our perspectives and reactions change. I had a conversation today with an Activities Director in a nursing home who was troubled by observing how some of the staff scold and yell at residents with dementia, thinking that will change things. She then went on to say that it's not their fault, because they have never been taught how to effectively work with these residents.
It is possible to teach caregivers these skills, but we must first begin with helping them develop empathy for persons living with dementia. Engaging in a "walk in their shoes" experience changes hearts and minds, it truly does.
Many professional caregivers who work with residents with dementia do not know how to effectively communicate and respond to their behavioral stress reactions.
"Empathy is the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions." Roman Krznaric
As aging services leaders, don't we ultimately want help our caregivers make better choices in their actions of care? Creating the empathetic caregiver is the first step, and the building block for future growth in the vocation of caregiving. Imagine all we could accomplish with empathy at the core of care and service!
Build empathetic care partners with training that is proven and powerful.
AGE-u-cate has the resources ready to go to help you start the empathy education journey. Take a look at our one-hour device enabled training course menu, and there you will find our one-of-a-kind course entitled, "Cultivating Empathy."
Take a peek into Dementia Live, our high-impact dementia simulation experience that creates empathy by immersing participants into what it could feel like to live with dementia.