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‘The Fundamentals Of Caring’ begins with a lesson summarising them… ‘Caregiving is not just about feeding and clothing and cleaning. It is about understanding how to navigate a complicated relationship between those who give care and those in need of it. If you find yourself lost, frustrated, confused, you can always come back to this helpful mnemonic device: ALOHA: Ask, Listen, Observe, Help, Ask again.

The fundamentals of caregiving are to give care but not care too much. If you truly want a lasting career in caregiving, you’ll need to adhere to the caregiver commandments… [1] I cannot take care of another unless I first take care of myself. [2] My needs are equal to the needs of the person to whom I am giving care. [3] Caregiving is difficult. All I can do is try my best and maintain a positive attitude. [4] Just always remember: ALOHA: Ask, Listen, Observe, Help, Ask again. Nothing less. Nothing more.’

Some pointers to add… [i] Caregiving for others begins with caring for oneself with compassion and empathy. [ii] With empathy for oneself too, one will not be burnt out. [iii] To care enough without caring too much or little is to walk the Middle Path, of putting in your best of efforts, yet without giving rise to attachment to the results, difficult as this might be. [iv] ALOHA as extended: Ask, but when inconvenient, enquire through others. Listen, but when not spoken to, look for more clues. Observe if the answered aligns with the clues. Help what is needed even if not asked for. Ask again, till there is alignment of the answered with the clues.

In the story, a new caregiver commits to the job of caring for a boy with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. However, other than needing physical assistance, the boy is confident and even cocky, to the extent of bullying him, though he had buried grievances to bear and clear. The caregiver, though physically able, had grief in mind too. In an unlikely friendship, the duo begin caring for each other, by offering ALOHA in a two-directional way. As in real life, our relationships are not so binary in our roles after all. We can all be both caregivers and those cared for, in ways great and small. This is how we can and will save one another.

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