Tuesday 1 January 2019

I Don't Do New Year's Resolutions... Except For This One

The New Year is a natural time for reflection on what was and what will be. I've been thinking about the changes in my own caregiving over the past year: Mom died on August 16 and I still have to remind myself that I don't need to call or visit her. Last night, Jim and I co-presented a mini-history of our family life with Nicholas at a New Year's Eve charity ball in support of the care home where Nick went for respite 'sleepovers' when he was small and where he lives as an adult now. 

So, I've been reviewing the past and considering the future, especially over the holidays. What will my caregiving look like in 2019? What will the future hold for me and Jim as we age into care receiving? 

A new study reveals that caregivers and care recipients are getting younger. The same survey shows that more men than we previously thought are giving care. And we know that they manage differently from women, but very little research has been done to illuminate the best policies and services that male caregivers find helpful. 

The caregiving landscape is changing for me personally and for all caregivers. As our society responds to our contemporary challenges, the roles of caregivers shift like fog in the wind. We do what needs to be done on an as-needed basis, like some perpetual game of whack-a-mole. Yet, even when the very lives of our loved ones depend on us, our caring roles, performed in the intimate privacy of homes are rarely seen or discussed. 

Here's an idea for something to hope for in 2019: Let's make caregiving visible and valued. Let's make our roles and our advocacy aims intentional and strategic. Let's talk about caregiving just like we talk about cooking or gardening - as a part of life that we plan, we talk about, and we value. Who's in?

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