The Caregiver’s Pathway


UP FOR DISCUSSION … Along the way, some of the best information we can use comes from other caregivers. And knowing their entire story can bring unintended additional benefits … like the wonderful realization that family caregivers share many of the same concerns and emotions!

On this Mother’s Day weekend, I am reminded about my penchant for reading about anything I do not understand.  As a new mother, I remember my go-to was Doctor Spock’s wisdom about child-rearing.  I…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … As caregivers we talk a lot about self-care and how important it is to maintain a positive outlook on the demands of caregiving. That is hard to do while exhausted, stressed, and constantly busy. To actually move from good intentions to doing regular self-care, however, it might require an intentional step away from all reality!

A wonderful opportunity presented itself this week that necessitated my stepping away from an entire afternoon of previously scheduled caregiving chores and activities.  This total deviation from p…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … Caregivers face new challenges every day with little warning. Early on we can feel like failures or wonder whether we are cut out for the tasks at hand. How do our mistakes become a path to success? Snoopy knows!

As books continue to proliferate about how to be a better caregiver, I always find myself going back to the more amazing wisdom of my childhood shared in the comic strip Peanuts.  Who doesn’t remem…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … Today is National Volunteer Recognition Day – the start of an entire week where we are called to recognize and thank volunteers across the country. This year’s theme is “Celebrate Service”. As caregivers, shouldn’t we be acknowledged as volunteers for our service to others?

In googling National Month of Recognition for Volunteers, I find it is in April and learn that historically it has followed the same evolution I find for many of these “national” observances – it b…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … Did you happen to notice that there was an amazing solar eclipse visible across much of North America this past week? Did it bring you awe, wonder, sadness, or perhaps even loneliness as you saw the amazing photos and watched news stories of the event?

Being from the Midwest, this week’s solar eclipse was not only a news event for me, but one experienced by many of my family members and friends who recounted the experience of seeing it firsthand….

UP FOR DISCUSSION … For a long time, I felt very alone in being a caregiver … alone with the challenges and reluctant to turn to anyone for help. Always comfortable with the concept of “it takes a village” to raise a child, somehow that same belief did not translate to taking care of a loved one living with an end-of-life illness. I now know that no family caregiver can possibly hope to do so without help.

As we turn the calendar to April, I am amazed at how quickly the first quarter of the year flew by and is now behind us.  Even living life just one day at a time with little thought about the futur…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … For Christians, another Holy Week has come and now is almost gone. Has it been sad and reflective, or is it full of promise for what our futures hold? Or both? Caregivers might look at this week very differently, but isn’t Easter week all about focusing on the reasons for sacrifice?

Holy Week has always been an emotional time for me.  Even in the days of planning a weekend full of family visits or Spring Break travel, I spent a lot of time in church marking the remembrances of…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … After a full week of interacting with new caregivers, seasoned caregivers, and former caregivers all at different stages in their life journey, I came across this wisdom that just may sum up what I think I saw in talking with all of them! Is the real secret to successful caregiving in our bones?

Credited to one of my favorite entertainers, Reba McEntire, this well-known quote actually has its origins in a speech given back in 1908 entitled Moral Anatomy.  And while I am sure that the study…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … I think caregivers do a better job when we allow our compassionate hearts to overrule our weary minds. So many of the challenges of caregiving require patience and tolerance; yet despite it all we feel a deep sense of sadness for the suffering our loved ones are dealing with. How do we balance the two?

I am privileged to belong to a group of wise women at my church who have one thing in common – an interest in deepening our faith and drawing into a closer relationship with God.  We read together …

UP FOR DISCUSSION … As caregivers, I believe a sense of wellbeing is difficult to hold on to. We react to whatever the day brings, but do we often get that overall feeling of general wellbeing once the day settles down? I am reminded that sometimes simple things done frequently can make all the difference – have I done any Hygge today?

This week has been an interesting collection of events that leaves me wondering whether I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my outlook and general sense of wellbeing in my life.  A friend ment…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … Are you aware of the level of trauma caregivers face every day as they go about the challenges of caregiving? Until you hear it directly from an expert, I don’t think we fully appreciate why it is so critically important to make that extra effort to open up our yoga mats!

This morning, I spent an hour with Dr. Miguel Rivera, better known to area caregivers as The Dementia Doc.  Recorded from a presentation he gave recently at the Senior Friendship Center I watched D…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … Do you struggle with finding the time and energy to seek out respite from caregiving? As critical as it is for all of us, respite is difficult to come by and takes coordination … and a little encouragement to pull it off!

As our church’s caregiver ministry is beginning the process of investigating what it would take to offer regular respite opportunities to our caregivers, the topic is top-of-mind for me these days….

UP FOR DISCUSSION … And as the football season wraps up, so begins Spring Training in the world of sports … it is time for baseball! I saw this interesting comparison about life today that made me realize family caregiving might just be a little like playing competitive baseball.

Spring is here, and with the end of the football season, everything has become about baseball in our house.  My loved one’s primary entertainment and interests revolve around professional and colle…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … Are you struggling with an overwhelming to-do list? Has crazy become an accurate description of day-to-day life? Won’t you be YOUR Valentine as you perhaps take some time to love on yourself and become reacquainted with God’s love for you?

It has been a chaotic past three weeks, and given the time of the year, it is not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon.  As I look at the calendar for the coming week, I discover we begin Len…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … Do you feel you are spending too much time on your phone? I have for a long time, yet recently took the time to review HOW I was using my phone. As a caregiver, I feel a little better about it now.

I recently found the need to get a new cell phone.  It was a traumatic switch, but slowly I am relearning the device and find that my phone habits haven’t changed much with this newer, sleeker 5G v…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … Do you ever find yourself wondering whether you can continue being a caregiver? Do you question your ability to carry on into this great unknown? Do you find yourself afraid you will fail someone, somehow? I am convinced the best antidote for our fears is hope!

This has been one of those weeks where the enormity of the tasks I have laid out for myself seem less manageable than I had previously thought.  The list of “to-dos” is not different, just my confi…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … What do caregivers do when they come to realize they are living in chaos? If we took the time to assess our own situation, I wonder, would we all find we are living in controlled chaos much of the time? What can be done if we are?

Part of my caregiver practice is to faithfully attend the Senior Well-Being Speaker Series that my church offers on a monthly basis.  I find I always learn something, and some of the topics covered…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … Can you imagine a scenario where people you know gather together and basically say to you “we’ve got this for the next four hours! You go and relax, take care of yourself, and have no worries – your loved one will be well cared for until you return.”

Respite from this journey we are on is something every caregiver struggles with.  Finding time away from our loved one’s situation and taking a breather from daily caregiver tasks becomes one more …

UP FOR DISCUSSION … Are you curious about easy ways to start adding self-care back into your daily routine? As caregivers, practicing self-care should be our top priority, yet often it is an afterthought. This cat might have the right idea!

With this morning’s rain, I did what I often do in the early hours of my day … scrolled my phone reading the latest Henri Nouwen devotional and catching up with family and friend posts on Facebook….

UP FOR DISCUSSION … A brand-new year is upon us, and as caregivers we can either look forward or look back. When we look back, we see just how far we have come. As we look to the future, we can only wonder what might lie ahead. Perhaps the only thing that really matters is to focus on today!

It is the eve before New Year’s Eve … do you recall all the plans you used to make related to New Year’s Eve?  For us it was always some party or family get-together.  When our children were young …

UP FOR DISCUSSION … As we begin this year’s miracle of Christmas celebration, I continue to bask in the varied glow of lights – and people – in this season of joy and take notice of all that I am grateful for. My blessings far outweigh my misfortunes.

It is a well-ingrained habit by now … my assessment of any situation based primarily on a quickly constructed pro/con ledger.  Not unlike a Net Worth Statement, I tend to look at my life as a serie…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … With little more than one week before we celebrate Jesus’ birth, are you finding the light? Why does so much of our discussion turn to providing light in places where it seems to be very dark? Even a flicker of a candle can make all the difference!

It started with a simple mention by a friend that she was having a difficult time finding fresh tapered candles anywhere.  That led to a lengthy discussion that repeated itself twice more with othe…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … As the ‘Season of Lights’ is upon us, do weary and troubled caregivers have the ability to bring any special light to their loved ones or family members who need a little hope? I think we can … all it might require is a little courage!

It is the Season of Lights, they say, and as the shortest day of the year approaches, this week has been all about seeing the lights!  Whether the soft glow of the Christmas trees at night, the fli…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … As a family caregiver, have you made your holiday plan? Is it purposeful, attainable, and filled with the hope for joy? I drafted mine this morning ….

I wrote my Christmas plan this morning.  It only took me two cups of coffee, a sojourn through the three rooms we really use during the holidays, and a decision that no family visitors this year me…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … The holidays are upon us, and for some the familiar question of how to see you and your loved one through the family get-togethers is front and center. Chevrolet captures it beautifully … endeavor to make each visit one of the “good days”.

I don’t usually endorse products, and I have not driven a Chevrolet in many years, but after seeing a beautiful commercial on Facebook this morning I was reduced to tears and again reminded that we…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … As we prepare for Thanksgiving Day this year – no matter whether it is shaping up to be busy or quiet – I think it adds value to take stock of all the is right in our lives! Do we caregivers tend to focus too much on all that is going wrong?

For some years now, I have kept a daily gratitude journal.  It started with a notebook where I would write down the top 5 things that happened to me each day that I was grateful for.  It has morphe…

UP FOR DISCUSSION … As we celebrate our Veterans today, I wonder about celebrating Family Caregivers in the same month. Is it possible that the role of the Military is perhaps not so dramatically different than the role of the Caregiver!

As I rushed home from a ministry event today to spend some time with my favorite veteran on Veteran’s Day, I pondered the role he played during his extensive time in the military and compared it to…
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