What words describe how you feel when you are doing something well? Accomplished, satisfied, confident, successful, energized?

What words describe how you feel about your caregiving experience? Cue the grimace emoji!

As a dementia care consultant, the answer to the second question is often exhausted, sad, frustrated, failing, guilty.

Today, Dowda Senior Consultants wants to highlight National Caregivers Day. We’d like you to consider replacing the word “giver” with “partner.” By doing so it suggests the importance of mutuality. Supporting a loved one truly needs to be a TEAM EFFORT. Yes, your roles and relationship are changing as you assume more responsibilities for the other person but it is important to remember that you are still partnering in care with this person.

By reframing caregiving to consider it “a most privileged partnership” allows you recognize that your “wholeness” is essential on the care journey. A person-centered approach to care involves considering and tending to your own needs while supporting the needs of another.

For this awareness to manifest into action here are some things to consider:

  • Don’t be a Lone Ranger – You will trip on your cape if you try to shoulder all the care on your own.
  • Instead be the Team Captain – You are empowered to build your loved ones All Star Team.
  • Identify – Recognize the things you are doing well and what you could use support with. 
  • Make a List – Start with 30 minute ways to help – errands, visits, take you out for lunch, an outing or visit with your loved one – having support with the “small asks” will build your skill in asking and also is proving ground for those you are recruiting on your team. Have this list ready when someone says, “Let me know how I can help you.” I mean it, have an actual list in your back pocket and let the person offering pick something.
  • Invite Others to your “Party” – What skills, “gifts” do they have – you wouldn’t want everyone to bring the same gift to a party – consider what they can bring to help meet needs and also celebrate you and your loved one. When we exercise our God given gifts, we do so more joyously and isn’t that often what this care journey needs – more joy!
  • Consider your Loved One – What would/do they want for you?  What can you do together that does not involve care demands?
  • Intentionally Create Time with Your Loved One – Enjoy being in one another’s presence – no one wants to feel like a burden. How you spend time together – quality moments are vital to both of you on the care journey.

So I will close with some coaching – We know that practice means the actual application or use of a method, an idea, a belief. So here is my charge to you:

1] Make a list of 3 things you go to recharge – physically, emotionally, spiritually.

2] Affirmation – Complete this sentence “My well-being is important because…”

3] Make a list of tangible ways others can help – really do make your wish list.

4] Build your team and recruit from family, friends, faith community, neighbors, co-workers..

5] Other resources. Once you have your list of areas you need support with, tell Dowda Senior Consultants how they can help you identify resources.

National Caregivers Day is observed on the third Friday in February — on February 18 this year. The day honors individuals who selflessly provide personal care, and physical- and emotional support to those who need it most. There are different types of caregivers who are not just limited to the health sector. The types are: family caregiver, professional caregiver, independent caregiver, private duty caregiver, and informal caregiver. Some of them are not always paid, which is why it is essential to appreciate and thank them for their long-term commitment. For more information about National Caregivers Day, visit https://nationaltoday.com/national-caregivers-day/.