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The "Joy of Living" While Providing Care

Lisa Story - August 28, 2017 11:57 AM

Our theme this year—The Joy of Living—while providing care presents five key elements of joyful living along the journey of providing care: hope, faith, balance, healing and strength. Along the path, we can harvest balance by setting boundaries around our needs and having faith that tomorrow will be bearable. We can maintain strength as we learn to lean on someone when the path becomes overgrown and when we need help and healing. We can find hope in the midst of the demands of caregiving when we allow ourselves to believe that tomorrow will be alright.

With reflection, I feel joy in knowing that Hope Grows continues to reach out to caregivers by way of a bi-monthly blog, social media interactions, and our available counseling and therapeutic respite services. Finding an emotion of great delight or happiness can be difficult in the throes of providing care for someone. This is all the more reason to try and incorporate ‘joy” in your life. You might ask though, how do I keep joy at the forefront? I believe it is about the importance of maintaining balance and strength along with the other key elements mentioned above.

Recently my aunt died from a 7 year journey of Alzheimer’s. Despite the increase of care that was needed from my cousins, I noticed laughter, pleasure, and happiness. I noticed these pleasant emotions through expressions shared by comments in a text, social media posts, and through the eyes of pictures that were shared. What I later learned during the funeral services was a deep appreciation for someone who was greatly valued in their family’s life.

We all know that losing someone hurts deeply; our tangible existence with them is gone or in the case of Alzheimer’s, it is slowly taken along the journey. But what appeared to me was my cousins being able to keep at the forefront of their care ‘giving’ the key elements: hope, faith, balance, healing and strength. They did reach out for support when their path was overgrown and strongly held onto their faith. They took time to balance their lives with things like #WalkItOffWednesday, and shared their care giving and above all took care of ‘SELF’. I also noticed they harvested hope with the demands of care, but above all accepted the journey and walked the path that was set in front of them with grace.

While at the funeral, I saw tired and sad faces, but more than that though I saw no regret and a group of individuals able to move forward with much “JOY” in their hearts. I felt blessed to be a part of this family and to take notice that the “JOY” of care ‘giving’ is real and can be achieved; so thank you to my cousins for proving my hypothesis of the key elements to maintaining the joy of living.

Lisa Story, Founder and Executive Director of Hope Grows,a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit organization focused on caregiver support. Lisa is a licensed counselor and certified thanatologist. She has developed a graduate level Grief Counseling course and is a national speaker on the topic of caregiver respite. She was recently was the recipient of a Jefferson Award.

Your Answers and Comments

Carter Kelvin on Aug 29, 2017 06:09 AM
Caregiving is a challenging task. There are parties to it that can get unreasonably demanding and yes, I am talking about the patient. In this time and age when making ends meet is close to impossible for many, family Atlas Of Caregiving is still one responsibility that many find fulfilling. It is one of the most gratifying and rewarding experiences of one’s life, particularly of the home caregiver’s.

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