Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has a great quote that I hear often: “There are four types of people in the world: those who have been a caregiver, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” It seems to be true. Most all of us know someone who is a caregiver for a loved one or was one in the past. Have you ever wondered where caregivers go to find respite from caregiving? Whom do they contact to find information about how to be a caregiver? How do they tap into local resources that might have services that a caregiver needs? And when they are seeking solutions to specific problems, whom can they contact for suggestions about possible solutions? If we are all in one of these four groups, where is the guidebook on how to be a caregiver?
There isn’t one that I have been able to find, but earlier this year, Church of the Palms launched a new ministry tailored to family caregivers, especially those who are caring for loved ones living with dementia. Endeavoring to expand our Senior Well-Being mission to focus on quality of life by incorporating wellness in Body, Mind, and Spirit, The Caregiver’s Pathway was created primarily as a central source of support for caregivers struggling with the demands of the job. Our Caregiver Resource Center/Library opened on January 3, providing a comfortable and quiet place to gather, learn, research, read, practice self-care, and reach out to other caregivers so as not to feel so alone. The Center is manned by current and former caregivers who volunteer their time because they know a lot about the caregiver journey and feel that sharing their story will help others. This oasis of calm, while multi-purpose in nature, has already created an environment where caregivers understand there is a community of other caregivers to walk with no matter where they might be on the path.
And that is perhaps the best component The Caregiver’s Pathway has to offer – the community it is creating as a resource and support to one other. We can provide education, books, DVDs, respite, how-to advice, empathy, and ideas, but sometimes the only thing that can make any difference is to know that someone is simply there. There to listen, there to share, there to give a hug when needed. Caregivers giving other caregivers hope!
If you are a caregiver for someone living with dementia or have a neighbor who might be, bring them to the Resource Center (pictured below) and introduce them to the idea of a caregiver community to join. Current center hours are: Tuesday: 9 am – 12 pm, Wednesday: 10 am – 1 pm, and Thursday: 12 – 3 pm.