Thursday, 1 November 2018

I AM NOT A CAREGIVER (BUT I COOK): NATIONAL CAREGIVER MONTH!


This year for National Caregivers Month, I want to reflect on why so many of us do not identify as caregivers. 'Caregiver' is a problematic word for lots of reasons, not least among them that it seems to betray the love and loyalty we feel towards those who need our help. The word amplifies the dependency and helplessness of our loved one - the very person whose dignity we are attempting to protect by minimizing the visibility of their needs. But if we want to build a society in which caring is valued and supported, perhaps the starting point is re-thinking the meaning of 'caregiver'. 

What does caregiving have to do with cooking? Just ask Rajiv Mehta, the founder and CEO of The Atlas of Caregiving, a care mapping tool that I champion in the new book that Dr. Zachary White and I have co-written (out on June 8, 2019) - The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation from Loved One to Caregiver

Rajiv says that caring is like cooking. We all cook. But some people are professional cooks while others simply heat up pre-prepared food. There are home cooks and gourmet cooks. Our food preparation is influenced heavily by our culture, our memories and our family relationships. Caring is the same. It is an activity that we all participate in, one way or the other. Caring is part of life, not separate from it.

Today, on the first day of National Caregivers Month, I want to salute those caregivers who are immersed in caring - those passionate amateurs who have learned to be expert in both their technical care skills and in offering personal consolation and comfort. In 2018, let's remember Rajiv's call to think about caring like we think about cooking - a natural and nurturing part of everyday life. 
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