After publishing True Confessions of A Former Caregiver: And a Darn Good Cookie Recipe two weeks ago, I have continued to receive an overwhelming response that has been heart warming. It was a very personal story and though it was easy to write, it was hard to share.
Many came out of the woodwork to say how meaningful my words were to them, and talked about similar feelings, adding their own experiences equally as poignant.
As I listened to their stories, one thing became clear. It is cathartic to talk about the hard stuff. Too many people suffer and think they are alone in their experiences. Talking allows the demons to be released, and when they are released they have the potential of transforming into angels.
We all do our best in difficult circumstances but we all have limitations. The problems come when we have unrealistic expectations of what or how we think things “should be.”
Aging is as normal as being a baby, yet it is shrouded in taboo. Why is that? Perhaps it’s because on so many levels,we associate endings with loss in addition to not being mentally prepared for role reversals. Maybe instead of thinking in terms of role reversal, we need to think of role evolvement. Reversal conjures up judgment and fear because it doesn’t sound like we are progressing, but rather regressing.
Caregiving is not relegated to just the aging. Disability is no respecter of age.
According to The National Alliance of Caregivers
- 65.7 million caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged.
[The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2009), Caregiving in the U.S. National Alliance for Caregiving. Washington, DC.] – Updated: November 2012
There are plenty of studies about the needs of the disabled and the dying, but what about the needs and psychology of the caregivers, and those left behind?
Rarely is the caregiver asked how they are doing, while the inquiries about those they care for go on and on. We are all in this together, yet caregivers often exist in the shadows.
To be fair, studies are emerging; but not fast enough.
Caregivers are a demographic much like parents, but different because of a lack of credibility. Don’t get me wrong; there is plenty of moral credibility, but to this point the role is not backed up with authority, or enough common practical knowledge. Decision making becomes so ambiguous. New parents, who complain children do not come with user manuals, had better buckle their seat belts when it comes time for caregiving, because they have no idea of what’s coming later in their lives.
It is time to normalize the role of caregiving and start preparing people for this stage of development. The best place to start is simply by talking about it; all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. As with all difficult things, emotional poison lies within the shadows.
The following are some Facebook Pages I have found that do a pretty good job of telling it like it is:
Caregiving Inspirations by Joy
The Caregiver Space
All of these pages make a valuable contribution. I wish I would’ve known about them when I was in the midst of my caregiving experience.
This week, I have launched my own contribution, by starting a Facebook Page called Caregiver’s Story Board, which will be a safe place for caregivers to share their stories.
In Muir Woods National Park, there is a designated space along the side walk for free speech. When we last visited, we overheard an exchange between a little boy and his mother. The little boy said, “Mom, can I say the ‘F’ word here?” Yanking his arm and pulling him away, his mother emphatically said, “NO!!!”
Here are the ground rules for Caregiver’s Story Board:
1. This is a family friendly page. Do not use any vulgar language.
2. This is not a therapy page. While it is a safe place to share your story, it is not a place to ask for, or expect therapeutic help.
3. If writing is not your thing, you can post videos with your story.
4. All posts are subject to my approval. If I believe a post is contrary to the mission of the page, I will delete it.
5. Posts should be in the spirit of genuine disclosure, for the purpose of: bringing caregiving out of the shadows, telling your story, normalizing the caregiver role, and education for those who are interested in or preparing to fulfill the caregiver role.
6. By posting your story, you are giving permission for it to appear on Caregiver’s Storyboard, Barbara Scoville, LCSW Blog, and other social media sites.
If this space is utilized, I believe it can make an important contribution to the understanding, acceptance, and normalization of caregiving.
I invite you to be a Pioneer of Peace and share your stories. Pass the word along that Caregiver’s Storyboard is a “safe place to land”during both the good times and the bad.
Just get on Facebook and search for Caregiver’s Storyboard. If you would PLEASE “Like” the page I would really appreciate it 🙂
That’s all for this week.
Until next time take care, and may you find your cup half full 🙂
Barbara (The Blog Whisperer)