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Caregiving: A New Normal?

Margery Pabst Steinmetz - July 31, 2017 12:24 PM

Caregiving is and has always been a "normal" part of life.  I didn't really understand this simple truth for a long time.  Many of us have often thought of caregiving as an unusual circumstance, a finite period of time, a bump in the road when, in reality, caregiving is a part of the fabric and pattern of life.  Caregiving marks the passages of life, for some beginning with parenting and often culminating later in life in the ultimate role reversal, parenting our parents.  Throughout our prime years, caring often assumes a mentoring role for children, employees, peers and friends. Our attitude toward caregiving and acceptance that caregiving is a normal experience throughout life can help us savor the moments, find meaning and enrichment and, in the words of Marc Middleton ("Growing Bolder"), make us "nostalgic for the future."  Rather than dreading one's own aging, and inevitable illness, considering the future through a lens of continued promise and life long learning, enhances each day we have and can help us live longer.

So what might be some ways to alter our attitudes toward caregiving, particularly when we care for one who is ill?

-Acknowledge caregiving as a part of normal life.  The odds are most of us will be caregivers and most of us will be cared for.

-"Rebrand" for ourselves and others what caregiving is and can be, a time of reflection, learning and memory, enrichment.

-Create a list of positive images about your personal caregiving journey. (For example, cooking dinner with Mom, taking walks with a spouse, reading to Dad before he falls asleep each night.). Writing down the positive images of a day of caregiving helps us bring the experience into memorable focus.)

-Mentor other caregivers and share successes with friends and family.  Spread the word that there is joy and learning in caregiving.

-Encourage your care partner to make decisions on as many issues as possible.  All of us have a more positive outlook when we aren't so busy making every decision.

Margery Pabst Steinmetz is the Founder and Creator of mycaregivingcoach.com and is a partner with eCareDiary.com in encouraging caregiver wellness and well being.  Margery hosts "Caregivers Speak" twice monthly on blogtalkradio and is a frequent speaker and facilitator on at caregiving events and arts and wellness seminars.

Tune in to "Caregivers Speak" on Tuesday, August 8 at 2PM Eastern when Margery interviews Marc Middleton, CEO of "Growing Bolder", an Emmy Award winning broadcaster who will share more practical tips on creating  joy and "nostalgia for the future" as we age and care for others.

Your Answers and Comments

Bonnie Friedman on Aug 29, 2017 10:59 AM
Great advice, as always, from Margery Pabst Steinmetz. Not everyone is a born caregiver. Even those who are still hit speed bumps along the way. Refreshing and rebranding are terrific insights that can make a big difference.

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