To succeed as family and professional caregivers, we must stand united, lest we fall divided.
These “once-in-a-lifetime” tough economic times are happening more frequently. During my five-plus decades, I’ve lived through five cycles, starting in the late seventies with double-digit inflation.
Despite trying to learn from these cycles, I am surprised each time at what happens next.
While you can prepare for these challenging times, many are caught blindsided–some lose their jobs; others lose everything.
I bet you can tell your own stories!
Those who survive and even thrive, are willing to return to one fundamental principle—one upon which America was built–United We Stand. This article applies this united principle to family caregivers and professionals.
FAMILIES return to multi-generational households
Years ago, Grandma stayed home and looked after the grandchildren. She baked cookies, soothed life’s growing pains, and imparted the family’s values through stories. Grandpa led the children on adventures and taught them skills. Over time, Grandma and Grandpa grew frail and the roles reversed—daughters, sons, and even the grandchildren helped care for their elders.
Multi-generational households have made a comeback—many, out of necessity.
Adult children, having lost their jobs, move into their parents’ home or move Mom and Dad into their home. Sharing expenses reduces costs. By uniting, families grow stronger and survive the difficult times. Children benefit from the attention Grandma and Grandpa give them while the latter are uplifted by feeling needed.
PROFESSIONALS need to answer the Call to Collaborate
The August 2011 issue of The Caregiver’s Voice newsletter begins with a Call for Collaboration among professionals.
Whereas, family caregivers often hear professionals say: “Get help! Don’t do it alone,” professionals risk hypocrisy while creating Silos of Service. (Click on the above link to read the letter.)
Instead of collaborating, many professionals still try to invent the caregiving wheel themselves. Organizations use scarce funding to develop their own programs from scratch instead of drawing on the expertise of professionals in their communities and fostering stronger ties.
Meanwhile, hundreds of former caregivers, having survived caregiving, want to give back. Many are energetic accomplished professionals who are trying to grow a caregiving business by offering services, video tips, products on websites, etc. Independently, it’s a struggle. Even the lowly amoeba knows that this is not the way to survive and grow!
Imagine being a family caregiver today. Every where you turn, you’re faced with an overwhelming array of choices. Your work is hard enough let alone trying to find the answer to: Which resource can I trust?
Research shows, when given too many choices, we stop deciding. The result? Caregivers are sending out distress signals.
As caregiving experts, coaches, and advisors, we will better serve the family caregiver if we collaborate.
Let’s say, I like writing articles (like this one) and doing keynote addresses. Let’s say you like doing weekly video caregiving tips and workshops.
MAKING IT WORK
If we combine our efforts, we instantly offer 100% more to those we serve. Together, we could offer articles, workshops, video caregiving tips and even keynotes. How long would it take you to double your service offerings like this? Years?
I had the pleasure of meeting Barbara Gaughen-Muller, The Caregiver’s Voice Caregiver of the Month recently. She is a PR professional who wants to offer happiness programs for caregivers. We felt energized by the potential opportunities of working together. For example, we could integrate her happiness work with my future book on Finding the JOY in Caregiving. We plan to continue our discussions.
Jay Kraker is a caregiver for his wife with MS. Jay runs a monthly 90-minute support group with a unique twist. He invites an expert to speak for 20 minutes on a specific area of caregiving. Then family caregivers who are on the call are given an opportunity to ask questions before breaking into smaller caregiver support groups. I attended two of these meetings and am impressed by Jay’s mission as we explore ways to collaborate.
A Lesson in Collaboration
My husband David likes to do things himself. I prefer doing things with others. While we stop to quench our thirsts during a near-100-degree day hiking in the mountains, I struggle to retrieve my water bottle out of my daypack. David does the same. I watch then suggest: David, if you help me get my water bottle and I help you get yours, we’ll be drinking a lot sooner. He agrees and retrieves my bottle then I grab his. We satiate our thirsts and are soon on our way.
If we help each other first, we’ll reach our goals, sooner—whether in multi-generational households or as collaborating caregiving professionals. Remember: United We Stand. Divided We Fall.
If you are interested in growing stronger through collaboration, contact me. Let’s see where we can mine some synergy!