LISTENING - The value that every age brings with it
By editorial staff
Four generations live together at Findomestic, each of which has its background, reference values, ideas, expectations and aspirations... in short, a different view of the world and a unique way of assessing and considering reality.
It is inevitable that each of us brings our own being and experiences into our working environment, inﬂuencing it and having a signifcant impact on it. It is therefore essential for companies, now more than ever, to listen to their employees in order to provide services and benefts that protect personal wellbeing and meet their real needs.
The initiative I would like to talk about in this context stems from the awareness that, as the average age of employees rises, the number of caregivers, i.e. those who take care of other people, is also constantly increasing.
In Italy today there are 13 million caregivers and 3.6 million workers who must find a way to reconcile their personal and professional lives. These are important numbers that we cannot afford to ignore. For this reason we decided to provide our employees with a listening, support and orientation desk, which focuses on a care manager, a territorially competent professional who helps and directs by identifying the most suitable response to specifc problems (fnding car homes,
carers, babysitters, psychologist or speech therapists, etc.).
At the same time, we have launched an awareness-raising campaign about people who are not self-suffcient, which covers all stages of life, from childhood to old age.
We started with the latter, challenging the idea that ‘old age’ must necessarily be identifed as an illness or a slow and inevitable decline.
With improvements in quality of life and the progress of medicine, this ‘third age’ is a phase of our existence full of vitality and energy: free from work commitments, the over 60s and 70s travel, study, do sports and voluntary work, take care of themselves, look after their grandchildren, and are a fundamental pillar of society.
It was wonderful to listen to a psychologist lovingly recount the difference between pathological and physiological ageing and to dispel the many prejudices linked to old age. Elderly people are simply going through a phase in their life cycle, with characteristics that are different from previous phases, with physical, sensory and cognitive changes that do not, however, lead to problems with functioning and independence.
In this context, the role of the caregiver consists in supporting elderly subjects in fully actualising themselves and this means ‘taking care of them,’ valuing each identity and personal history, starting with respect for human dignity, which is expressed in the construction of consistent bonds, able to offer support and to receive the original contribution of the other.
We discussed the dramatic moment when the parent-child role is reversed, the diffculty in accepting that the parent loses certain functions and/or abilities day after day, the failure to interpret his or her new needs... One of the first ways of caring for the other person is to listen to them as a person through the gestures they make, the words and feelings they express, the stories they want to tell and are able to tell, the silences in they take refuge in, in order to understand the residual resources that can be strengthened, those that need to be reawakened, the most fragile aspects of identity. We cannot allow illness in old age to rob the person of their dignity, leaving the elderly person or what remains of them alone, often identifed with chronic or degenerative pathology: we have learned that old age is not an illness but more simply a phase of life, with distinct characteristics, positive and negative sides.
It was surprising to see how much fragility there is inside each caregiver and how much need for discussion: the sense of loneliness, inadequacy and powerlessness, suffering, pain... these are meetings of an extraordinary intensity that offer us the opportunity to meet with experts and that allow us to open up and confront ourselves. These are moments that we consider fundamental because the wellbeing of a working environment depends primarily on the wellbeing of each employee.