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3 Women Who Are Re-Defining The Future of Caregiving

Finding the celebration in the struggle

Jenn Chan was no stranger to the challenging aspects of caregiving.

As a caregiver for her 94-year-old grandmother, Chan had to witness the transformation of her beloved relative from an independent mentor into someone who relied on her for everything from bathing and toileting, to meal preparation and getting in and out of bed.

In spite of this, she saw the potential for celebration within the sorrow. “Why isn’t there a party for this?” she asks, “There’s definitely something to celebrate when someone is showing that humanity, giving and providing for another.”

Recognizing that the role of being a family caregiver has an overwhelmingly negative connotation, Chan decided to develop a way to not only change the prevailing rhetoric surrounding caregiving, but also to help newly-minted caregivers discover vital sources of help and support at the beginning of their journey, rather than being forced to learn on-the-fly.

Chan’s brainchild, “The Senior Shower Project,” aims to empower new caregivers—to help them realize that they can cope.
She came up with the idea of a senior shower while attending a baby shower for one of her friends. When asked when she was going to get married and have children of her own, she confessed being struck by the thought of how similar taking care of her grandmother was to taking care of a child.

The purpose of a senior shower is two-fold: to celebrate the caregiver and their new role and to connect them with a solid network of people and information that will help them in the months and years to come.

Chan feels that one of the biggest challenges facing the new caregiver is that there’s no formal education or preparation event to help them. “I’ve realized that we should put a more emphasis on developing a proactive approach to caregiving. Why don’t we try to create a system where people look forward to this role?”

To those who would contest that becoming a caregiver is nothing to celebrate, Chan replies, “That’s the exact mentality that I’m trying to shift. One human is taking care of another human,” she says, “Let’s celebrate it. Celebrate caregivers. Celebrate their patience, their love, their willingness to put aside their needs for another.”

A different kind of coach

Cindy Laverty made it six months before she crashed.

Crippled by feelings of burnout that she had thought herself immune to, Laverty found herself drowning while trying to care for her ex-husband’s parents and cope with her daughter’s recent cross-country move to college.

Her former father-in-law, Bob, had suffered a stroke just days after undergoing open heart surgery. The event left him incapable of caring for himself, let alone his wife, who suffered from dementia and epilepsy.

What had started off as a seemingly simple request to look after Bob’s wife and finances while he had surgery, had turned into a full-time caregiving job that caught Laverty off guard.

After quitting her job and trying to cope on her own, Laverty says she just started getting stronger.

She began seeking help and educating herself, reading what she describes as, “books about what to do when your life falls apart.” Caring for her former in-laws was the catalyst that helped Laverty discover that caregivers, no matter how strong they are, need help, and they need it fast.

She admits that becoming a caregiver coach was something of an accident, “I made a business out of my mess,” she jokes.
Laverty’s passion to help others avoid her mistakes drove her to build a business around being a caregiver coach. She began as the host of a caregiver-focused radio show and has expanded her enterprise, “The Care Company,” into a multi-media service that includes: public speaking, one-on-one coaching, and an online provider network of resources for caregivers.

See the original article: “Trial By Fire: Caregiving Forges A New Breed of Entrepreneur” for more advice on how to turn your passions and unique set of skills into a philanthropic business…

Related
13 Theme Songs for Caregivers
How to Stop Being so Hard on Yourself
6 Reasons Why Caregivers Are in a “League of Their Own”

Read more: Career, Caregiving, Family, Healthy Aging, Inspiration, Life, , , , ,

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

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AgingCare.com connects family caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing options for people caring for their elderly parents. AgingCare.com is a trusted resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.

80 comments

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5:53PM PST on Dec 9, 2013

As a caregiver of my grandpa, I often take him to adult daycare just so I can get respite for myself. We are blessed that his medicaid pays for up to 5 weekdays of his adult daycare.

5:49PM PST on Dec 9, 2013

I am a caregiver of my grandpa who has dementia. I am very young for my age and also a single mom. I wonder how I have even survived with all the challenges in my life. My mom and my 2 aunts who are my grandpa's daughters and my grandpa's power of attorneys have never showed me any gratitude and appreciation for my care and they are all NURSES. My mom is the ringleader and so negative and my 2 aunts are like her followers but they are not caring for grandpa. My mom talks bad about me. Caregiving is hard work.

12:22PM PDT on Apr 19, 2013

Great article!!

8:21PM PDT on Apr 16, 2013

wow and thank you!

1:59PM PDT on Apr 16, 2013

Thanks

12:07PM PDT on Apr 15, 2013

This is the thoughest job anyone will ever have to do. It is very difficult to care for a parent. You first have to deal with the mental and emotional shift that this person who was once the guiding force in your life is now totally relying on you to do everything for him or her. You will never comprehend the struggle unless you live it on a daily basis. You have to constantly look for ways to make live easier and more comfortable for the loved one and you also have to find ways to manage your own life. When taking a shower becomes an "event" you have to plan you will know you are in the trenches of caregiving. I wish us all lots of blessings when we go through the stages of caregiving.

1:49PM PDT on Apr 13, 2013

Inspiring!

1:38AM PDT on Apr 13, 2013

Thanks

7:33AM PDT on Apr 12, 2013

Many women are doing this and have been for years :) These three are not alone or rare.

8:27PM PDT on Apr 11, 2013

A tremendously difficult job...Blessings to all, for their compassion.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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We have changed for better and for worse. Very interesting. TYFS :O)

Interesting, thank you.

That kitten is so cute and has a good friend watching over him.

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