Hope for the Caregiver

AUGUST 25, 2020  /  LINDSEY SHANTZ  / 

Hope for the Caregiver
Our team knows many of you are in a caregiving role for loved ones. A book was suggested to us on caregiving and how to support and encourage those with cancer. We found it full of inspiration and practical ideas, and we thought you would too.
Recommended Read
Author Michael S. Barry wrote "The Art of Caregiving" from his personal experience as director of pastoral care at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia. This book is a useful resource on how to provide care for someone who is ill --- while also taking care of you.
Embrace that life is short - for everyone
If the situation feels overwhelming as a caregiver (or patient), focus on the day in front of you. Take small steps forward in finding balance in your life. Every day is a choice and new day.
Michael said of all the advice he shares with cancer patients, few are repeated more than this:
"All we have is today. Twenty-four hours. We can choose to fill our time doing things that bring us some sense of happiness or joy, or we can spend it being depressed, unhappy and pessimistic."
Choose to do things that bring happiness
As a caregiver for someone with a life-threatening disease, choosing to live in hope and share that hope-filled joy with your loved one is important. This doesn't mean to dismiss reality but to rather focus on lifting a person's spirit.
Read a book together, watch a movie, listen to music you enjoy or share family stories to document. We often mistakenly believe happiness is found when all problems are removed. This is not true. Responding to life's difficulties with faith and optimism gives the patient the best possibility of recovery.
Plant positive flowers
Plant flowers in your mind instead of letting weeds like worry and negativity flourish. This takes intentional concentration. Michael also reminds caregivers they must take care of their own needs first.
A caregiver's mind must be intentionally cultivated and filled with flowers of positive thinking. Then they will have the capacity to help their patient focus on the positive flowers too. Michael plants a flower for caregivers to hear:
"You are a wonderfully, courageous person who is daring to help a good friend. The world needs more people like you."
Create an action plan every day
As a caregiver your to-do list or action plan guides the day, provides structure and intentionally includes meaningful and interesting activities. The caregiver and patient can create this action plan together.
A plan increases the chance the patient will complete worthwhile goals and tasks that are meaningful to them. Being intentional will also help them to focus on what's truly important. Your action plan is just a guide and helps to make every minute count.
Take good care of yourself
If you are a loved one's caregiver, you play an important role on the health-care team. You are an invaluable advocate for your loved one. Your influence, encouragement and tangible care make a difference.
For all the caregivers, take really good care of yourself. The world needs more fierce, loyal and kind-hearted people like you.

Read other recent articles by Lindsey Shantz:

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Adina & Maureen
Adina & Maureen

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