Tip 12, Share the Care

Share the Care with your loved one. An innovative approach to spiritual caregiving is taught by Marty Richards, the author of Caresharing. Marty uses the partnership of the caregiving relationship to create a different care dynamic. She puts it this way: the care partners need each other. They build on each other’s strengths rather than focusing solely on the challenges, concerns and problems. Caresharers (the partners in a caregiving situation) are very aware that keeping their spirit alive is integral to their well-being. (Richards 3)

“Keeping their spirit alive” is a wonderful expression. It allows for awareness of the infusion of a timeless, spiritualizing, creative force into your relationship. In Richards’ Christian tradition, God can enter the relationship. If the care partners are keeping this as a goal, it can lead to a more vibrant care atmosphere.

If you are so inclined, sometime soon when you are with your care partner, try to imagine for a moment, that there’s something else going on, something happening that’s outside the simple dynamic of your normal “day-to-day” relationship. Imagine, if you will, that a spiritual presence (however you imagine it) is right there with you in the relationship. How does this change things? Does it allow you to see details of the situation a little more clearly? Does it bring seemingly small things to life? Does it help put things in perspective?

Importance Of Community

You should never feel that you’re in this alone. The leading cause of caregiver stress is actually the feeling of isolation. When you feel alone, it seems almost impossible to carry on. The truth is that you’re never alone, not at all. Remember, 50 million of you are out there! So it’s important that you get out of the house, interact with your peers, and get community behind you, really working for you. Family, friends, community resources, government agencies, call on everyone and anyone you can think of. Go on the Internet! Much more help is available than you would imagine.

The Caregiver Circle

An interesting and enriching way to view the support community is as a circle that surrounds your loved one. Rather than a hierarchy with your loved one somewhere at the bottom of a line of doctors, clinicians and professionals, view him in the center of a circle with all those clinicians around him. Included in the circle are your family, friends and minister, priest or rabbi. Now expand the circle to include your grocer, baker, milkman, dry cleaner, the ladies at the senior center, all the members of your church, your card group, neighbors…the entire support system that makes up the community that surrounds you. This viewpoint allows you to open up the possibilities of those who can assist you, because they are part of the circle helping your loved one. You are not asking for assistance, you are helping the care circle around your loved one to manifest. (Cason 7)

Organize your caregiver support team. Make a list of names and phone numbers of friends and neighbors you can count on. Keep the list with you at all times. Include government numbers and add a few government resources out of the phone book every week. Compile your list, make it a daily effort and then share it with others who are just starting to be caregivers.

You are becoming a resource! You are becoming a mobilizing force! You are educating others.

Not everyone is a natural caregiver, but everyone can help in some way. If someone finds hands-on caregiving work too taxing, let her do the shopping, take care of the finances or do the yard work. Finding a job for everyone is a big step in making the experience work for you. The more you can make your caregiving experience a group effort, the better. Believe me, people want to help. You just have to find the right way for them to contribute. They will be energized and learn from your efforts.

Caregiver Revolution :For families, loved ones and professionals who want to change caregiving into a positive, life affirming experience.