Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Engaging Caregivers' Minds

Today's news is an interesting mix of topics:

  • People traveling to Mexico for more affordable long term care (see past comments on the need for creative, affordable options right here at home);
  • New program and services designed to better support family caregivers:
    Sen. Amy Klobuchar,U.S. Senator from Minnesota has a new proposal:

"Most caregivers report taking time out of the work force, cutting back on hours and turning down promotion opportunities. One recent study found that women who provide care to an aging parent suffer about $8,600 per year in lost wages and benefits.

"Family caregiving also has a significant impact on our economy,costing businesses an estimated $33 billion annually in lost productivity.

"For all of these reasons, I am introducing federal legislation to assist our family caregivers."

I applaud this attention to the needs of the family caregiver – and the effort to do something to support these dedicated individuals.

  • A comment by Carol O’Dell (Mothering Mother, Kunati Press) “Engaging the caregiver’s mind is a challenge” as she goes on to share her experiences of depression, isolation, and the mind-numbing repetition of caregiving tasks. Carol describes her challenge to stay mentally engaged, active and growing as a person, and to fight the apathy that threatens to overwhelm.

    As I read today’s news and comments I am again convinced that, as a profession, we need to do two things: listen – carefully and hard – to family caregivers. Hear what they are saying. They need our services; they WANT our services. We need to listen and support them.

    Secondly, we need to engage the mind of the caregiver. Not just the family caregiver but the professional caregiver as well. Imagine the daily mind-numbing repetition of caring for many individuals, then going home to care for your own family and personal needs. Engaging these individuals’ minds – giving them challenges, new skills and opportunities for personal and professional growth – is one of the greatest gifts we can present to the caregivers we encounter and employ.

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