Caregiver Spy Techniques


Caregiver Spy Techniques

spyglass6 Secrets That Aren’t So Secret

Most family caregivers have this little acknowledged trait in common: spying. Yes, we spy on our loved ones and also on our tolerated ones! Some of us are mutual caregivers, both living with chronic conditions and helping care for each other. And we spy on each other. I am not suggesting that these are done with sinister intent. Rather, these are commonly utilized practices for loving well. How so? Consider these six not-so-secret ways:

1. Eavesdropping. This is one of my favorite hobbies! And, I witness family caregivers doing this every week in our office while Parkinson patients engage in voice therapy. As they enter the therapy room, supposedly safe from their watchful caregivers, they begin to talk. And sometimes, the caregiver bends an ear towards the open door to make sure that their caree is getting the stories straight. Eavesdropping. Listening in on phone calls to see what they’re telling other people, fact checking for signs of dementia, and well…eavesdropping. Often, you can learn a lot this way!

2. Peeking. Nonchalantly noticing that your loved one is struggling to get up from the toilet or out of the bath; quickly averting your eyes as you witness their campaign to get dressed; or lagging behind to inspect a change in gait. These and many more are peeking strategies of the stealthy caregiver.

3. Sniffing. Yes, caregiving sometimes entails interesting smells. This, typically, is the practice you most do and then wish you hadn’t. But topical treatments, regularity of bathing habits, incontinence, etc. constitute reason for this technique.

4. Sampling. Tastes change. Memories become garbled. And recipes suffer. It’s true. So, we sample what mom is cooking these days. We also sample the fare that others are preparing for our carees.

5. Searching. Have you ever hugged or caressed your care partner with affection, but also with a “search and identify” mission in mind? Bumps, growths, calcifications, and other unwelcome additions are cause for the searching spy technique.

6. Sensing. Ahhh, the old 6th sense! In fact, some experts have identified upwards of 30 senses, but we’ll lump some of those into one. Your hunch is correct. You just know. You tune in to the subtleties of communication with your loved one and soon discover what they may have been hesitant to tell.

Perhaps these gave you some ideas. Then again, maybe these six caregiver spy techniques merely affirmed that you are a normal, loving caregiver. Gathering information to provide the best care for some of the most important people in our lives.

Worth Repeating
There’s nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside your head.
-Thornton Wilder

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I spy openly. :) I'm always watching and they watch me watching wishing I would just stop hovering. :)


Funny! I always thought about how I spy on My dad when he's in the bathroom, looking to see if he's pulled down his pants *and* his underwear, listening to see what he's done (if anything), and listening to see if he's trying to get out! Thanks for this witty perspective, Bruce!


My caregiving spying has sometimes led to what I call therapeutic lying. It's a cover-up all us spies must use, in order to cover our tracks, and ensure the safety and health of our carees. I never would have guessed I could become such a good \"liar\" till I became a caregiver. Loved your comical, yet accurate, description of our unusual caregiver \"duties\".


I thought I was the only one who 'spies'.... actually my caree is so angry most of the time i end up giving care by staying just out of sight and trying to stay ahead of his needs. I might be the first gal to be divorced for caring too much and trying too hard... he knows he needs me, but his anger is multiple sclerosis based and my job is to care for him no matter how bad he gets. So back to spying... grin