Caregiving is like, all the rage now. AARP, startup businesses, technology and the press are all over it. There is no question caregiving is a serious and important issue. The value of family and informal caregiving is estimated at $470 billion dollars per year. Try adding that to the federal budget! It is imperative we take every advantage of that gift. On the other hand, paid caregivers are too often treated and paid poorly. We must fix that. But so much of this is just recycling the same old same old. Are there any new thoughts, perspectives? Can we get a different take on caregiving?
Of course there are bright new ideas. Three new ideas I know are from Jenn Chan of the Senior Shower Project, Diane Ty from Georgetown University and Jane Wolf Waterman from Parenting our Parents. It is easy to learn from the links so I will only write brief intros.
Jenn Chan was a caregiver for her grandmother. It was an act of love. It was not always easy. But Jenn found it a remarkable and special part of her life. To share her take on caregiving Jenn started Senior Shower Project. Yeah. Jenn thinks we should acknowledge this life cycle event, becoming a caregiver, with a rite of passage like we do for babies and weddings. And come to think of it graduations, jobs, and retirement. There is a lot one can learn. There are helpful tools and gifts and books. How about learning to help with a transfer while saving your back? (Lamaze anyone?) Jenn, as you can imagine, is a joyous person. That is a new take on caregiving!
Diane Ty is really nice and really smart. Gold plated resume. Also a caregiver for her mom. Sandwiched with her own kids. And, as so often happens, life imitates art. Diane wrote an excellent report, Family Matters in Caregiving and Technology Adoption. Diane identified one really different idea in her research: In the throes of emotion and being overwhelmed, the caregiver becomes transactional with their parents. Once we spoke about it and I read the report, I rolled the idea around in my head and had to agree. I recognize it in experiences with each of my parents. This is not an argument. This is a truth. It brings up another rage, mindfulness. How we become conscious and better from our awareness is the question. That is a new take on caregiving!
Jane Wolf Waterman, M.S.W., J.D. is a true renaissance human. She is one of those people we acknowledge for the courage and tenacity to step off the easy path. Jane is a recovering attorney. Jane became a social worker and from her own caregiving experience came to an idea she calls Parenting our Parents. She wrote a book about it. POP is a different take but a book is not such a new idea. There is a lot written about how to help and how to be a caregiver but Jane has taken it to a new level. She is certifying coaches to help us through. We use coaches for every other aspect of our over the top lives. Beyond the ‘T’ group, support network and newspaper columns, POP Family Coaches are a new take on caregiving!
Caregiving is such a big issue we need to stretch for new ideas, approaches and conventions. Coaching, mindfulness and joy are all great new takes on caregiving. Read about them, think them through, take them to heart. And pass ’em on! Do you know other new ideas?