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Finally! A Winning Formula For Family Caregivers

Written by: Mike George, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Most family caregivers don’t label themselves or think of themselves as such – myself, included – even though that’s exactly the role they are fulfilling.


My son, Ben, who is now an adult, has required 24-hour care from the moment he was born. But I’m not his caregiver. I’m his dad, even though I provide that level of care.


When my father was in his 90s, and his body started to fail him, he looked to us for needed care and support. I was his son, not his caregiver. And yet, I did many of the things a family caregiver would do.

Whether or not you are thrust into a caregiving role because of some “oh, no!” moment – a fall at home, an accident, a heart attack, a stroke – or you gradually back into the role as life events unfold (e.g. onset of dementia), the result is still the same. Life is forever changed.


Little by little, simple things get more complicated as you juggle the pressures of work, home, family, and caregiving.


In the beginning, you convince yourself it’s all very manageable. You just dive in and get things done. You’re reactive as things happen, many of them requiring your immediate attention, but seemingly you feel in control.


And that strategy works … for a while. What you don’t see are the things you’ve put on hold or sacrificed to manage these new caregiving responsibilities.


THE COST OF CAREGIVING


What you don’t see are the physical health issues that arise from burning the candle at both ends – weight gain, high blood pressure, or worse.


Or the emotional health issues – increased anxiety, stress, fear, irascibility, and isolation.


Or financial issues because you had to move to part-time or give up your job completely.


And, the leisure activities you put off – spending time with your kids or partner, or going to a concert, or sporting event. The little things that keep you fresh and balanced.


You don’t see these problems because none of them show up overnight. It’s kind of slow-burn so you don’t recognize the changes in your body or the changes in your mood and mindset. They happen so gradually. But they do happen.


The reality is that none of us can balance all of this on our own, no matter how Herculean you think you are. If you’re chronically tired or stressed, it’s a lose-lose situation. Your family is certainly not getting the best from you, that’s for sure. And if something happens to you, what’s your backup plan?


You see, I went for years trying to carry the weight of Ben’s care on my own but didn't notice that my body was keeping score. And I was losing, big time! Until one day, my doctor told me I had a cancer.


Everything changed from that point on. Every ounce of energy I had used to make his life better was actually killing me. It was such a contradiction. And it seemed so unfair.


It was a tough way to learn that I couldn't do everything, forever.


INTERDEPENDENCE = POSITIVE RESULTS


The key to surviving and thriving in this caregiving role is to have a reliable network of support and a trusted team of compassionate, competent and caring people. Write that down!


“The key to surviving and thriving in this caregiving role is to have a reliable network of support and a trusted team of compassionate, competent and caring people.”


The big question is HOW?


Well, raising your hand to say you actually need the help is the first step – a huge one – and something most families put off until the 11th hour. Raising your hand is NOT an admission that somehow you’ve failed but rather is a declaration of your desire to have the best possible care for your family member.


But even that’s not enough.


That’s because bringing a caregiver into your home or your family member’s home, even someone you know, and entrusting that person with the care of your loved one is complicated. And, there are an overwhelming number of factors that you need to understand to get it right.


The good news is that once you do get it right, a transformation begins

  • You experience a new level of freedom, where you don’t have to be “ON” all the time.

  • Your fears aren’t front and centre as much.

  • Your confidence is restored.

  • You feel empowered to make the right decisions.

  • You have the energy (and the permission) to move beyond medical needs.

  • You discover the peace of mind you deserve to enjoy a slower pace

A FORMULA THAT WORKS


In the early days, we had limited success with hiring caregivers. It was usually by word-of-mouth or by accepting the first person an agency sent our way. With no guide or formula to follow, we were “winging it” most days and were lucky more things didn’t go wrong.


Eventually, that simplistic approach proved disastrous when our only caregiver abruptly quit. We had no lead time to prepare and scrambled to pick up the pieces.


Our son deserved better.


That wake-up call led us to put in place a more predictable and professional approach to bringing in a caregiver that leveraged all the hiring and team leadership skills we had used successfully in our work lives.


The result was a formalized, repeatable process to,

(I) find the right caregiver for our needs,

(ii) organize our home environment so that everything worked efficiently, and

(iii) nurture the relationships with our caregivers so they would keep bringing their best every day.

It worked for our first hire. And, for our second … until we grew “Team Ben” to 7 amazing people.


With these successes under our belt, we needed to share our results with other families. So, we captured this “process” into an online, self-paced, training program.


We called it, “The Caregiver Support Formula” because there really is a formula to follow to get this done right.


Over the last 5 years, this Formula has been successfully used by family caregivers to create a nurturing home care environment, and has become an important asset in their caregiving journey.


However, many families are stretched way too thin and don’t have the time or the energy to do this on their own. But if they had someone to talk to, who has walked in their shoes, and who understands their pain, they, too, could create an amazing home care experience.


COMMUNITY IS THE KEY


Knowing that we were not alone on our journey and were part of a caring and supportive community was where the real transformation occurred.


So, we took the Formula to the next level and created a live, interactive, group-coaching program called “The Champions Quest”.


Over a period of 6 weeks, we guide families through the Formula’s online modules while offering them a place to learn from the experiences of other families. The dynamic of a group setting and having a community of support has proven to be unmatched in its effectiveness.


Through this Quest, families can create the caregiving transformation they deserve.


Through this Quest, we help family caregivers shift from feeling alone, fearful, and uncertain to becoming confident, empowered champions of their family’s care needs.


If you are a family caregiver who has raised your hand, declaring your desire for the best possible care, send me a quick email (mike@soaringfamilies.com) with the subject line, “Caregiver Formula”, and let’s get started on your caregiving transformation.


Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

 

Mike George, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Mike George helps family caregivers shift from feeling alone, fearful, and uncertain to becoming confident, empowered champions. A caregiver himself for nearly 3 decades, Mike intimately understands the burdens of supporting the primary care of a loved one. But he also knows the tremendous fulfillment it can bring. This lived experience was the inspiration behind the creation of The Soaring Families WayTM, a proven model that guides families in creating the best home care experience, and generates positive change for everyone involved in the caregiving journey. He is a speaker, author, and co-founder of Soaring Families ‒ the hidden universe of family caregivers you didn’t know existed.

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