Autumnaged Care
Autumnaged Care

Why Empathy Is Important In Life And Care

Autumnaged Care

Why Empathy Is Important In Life And Care

Why Empathy Is Important In Life And Care


The world has seen and experienced inexplicably dark times. These dark times have happened across continents, people groups and periods in history.

One feature arguably unites every instance and that is the utter breakdown in empathy.

Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Empathy has long been a crucial element of humanity.

Countless scientists, academics, authors, creatives and professionals across every discipline have sought to understand what makes us humans tick and what helps us live our best lives.

Dr Helen Riess of the Empathy and Relational Science Program at the Harvard Medical School advocates the  importance of empathising with our fellow human.

Whether innate or practiced, the ability to empathise may hold much greater sway than we realised.

Within our own lives and caring, empathy has a pivotal role.


The Science Of Empathy


Dr Reiss explains in her recent study that empathy has a critical role to play in all our lives.

Whether interpersonal or on a larger societal scale, empathy helps us humans share experiences, needs and desires.

Carrying information back and forth between us as individuals, empathy builds and sustains emotional bridges that encourages pro-social behaviour.

She explains that as this phenomenon is occurring “an exquisite interplay of neural networks and enables us to perceive the emotions of others, resonate with them emotionally and cognitively, to take in the perspective of others, and to distinguish between our own and others’ emotions.”

Understanding where others are coming from has been proven throughout the years to reduce hostility, violence and negative interpersonal outcomes.

In a world where emotions can be intense, whether at home or at work, being able to understand how someone is feeling can provide insight into how to act for the best.

Studies have shown that we as humans desperately want to be understood and heard, empathy is that in action.


Empathy In Health Care


Unfortunately with the significant calls upon time, effort and resources, medical professionals and aged care workers have spoken about the difficulties of maintaining empathy.

It is completely understandable that in the routine and consistency of work that the energy to empathise will come under strain.

This is due to the fact that no human has an endless supply of social, mental, emotional and physical juices.

Sometimes the carton will run dry and so it is important to be aware of our own emotional wellbeing as aged care workers.

To be sympathetic to your own needs and training yourself to gaze internally ever so often, to see if you yourself need care and support, will aid you in your mission to provide the best care for others.


Cognitive Empathy


Dr. Riess speaks of cognitive empathy as a way to practice the skill of ‘walking in another’s shoes’.

Some of us may find it more difficult than others to empathise with those we meet and work with.

Cognitive empathy is the conscious decision to accurately discover and understand another person’s emotional state.

Discovering a resident’s emotional state may take a lot of questions, time and effort but the insight into what they are feeling, and why they are feeling that way, is likely to have hugely positive effects on the quality of care you can provide.

While the world races around at breakneck speed, many are unable to keep up and while the fast, strong and mighty are championed, there is a greater power that we can all use.

Empathy is the power to connect to our fellow human and make them know that theirs is a story worth listening to and understanding.

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