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Tyra Oldham Ph.D., MBA

Illness is not for the faint of heart. For the life of someone who is ill, life has changed significantly. Each day when someone is sick, he or she is faced with a sense of the unknowable while maintaining, a sense of optimism, if not for self, for others.

The ill may not have the voice they once had as their strength changes each moment and day. The caregiver often becomes the voice for the person who is sick. Although the journey of the person who is ill cannot fully be understood, the caregiver’s role is to empathetically take the journey with them until the end.

Only the person going through cancer, heart disease or Alzheimer’s can truly understand their feelings, but empathy in care can extend the life of someone ill by giving them peace of mind and respect for who they are today.

“Being able to empathize will lead to better caregiving and more compassion, as well as the ability to be patient and strong,’’ states the American Seniors Communities.

In the act of care, it is crucial to give voice to the ill by allowing their wishes and needs to be the priority. The caregiver is responsible for expressing the care wishes and managing the needs of the person in need.

It is vital in caring for someone to give voice to the sick to allow them to feel they are valued and respected. One of the essential parts of care is showing and expressing respect and empathy for the ill; this is very much a part of the caregiving process. We can sometimes, in our community, deliver care while forgetting empathy. The ability to consider the other, while not fully understanding their journey, can make a world of difference to someone who needs care.

Empathy is the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”

Some suggestions in care:

1) Begin with understanding the clinical illness.

2) Consider the ill person’s needs and what will make their journey lighter and easier.

3) Express empathy whenever possible to make the caregiver’s work more fulfilling while expressing respect for the ill person.

4) Try to place the ill person’s needs first and not substitute someone else’s needs for theirs.

In care, be vigilant and continue to deliver self-care as care is extended to those in need. The cycle of care is always changing.

For more information on care support and caregiving advice, write or email the Care Corner. Want to discuss care? Care Corner is that place to talk care, address questions for current and potential caregivers, and provide suggestions on agencies, services, and tips to assist in a care journey.    The Care Corner is for everyone, no matter their age or process in care. For more information on caregiving, send your questions to Care Corner at The Cincinnati Herald or via email at

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