Tuesday 29 October 2019


Recently Dr. Zachary White and I gave a webinar as part of a series of free, supportive learning events for caregivers sponsored by the Department of Continuing Education at McMaster University. "Caregiving Essentials" is the title of an upcoming series of online webinars for caregivers. Check it out! Zachary and I will be giving two of these sessions based on ideas from our new book, The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation From Loved One to Caregiver (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). Register and join us now! The course runs for 8 weeks and ends on December 20, 2019.

Here's a sample of our conversation from the last webinar - 

Question: What are some of the benefits or advantages in being a caregiver? What has been a caregiver taught you about yourself or has positively impacted you?

Donna: There are enormous benefits and advantages to being a caregiver. I think there is something that I would call a caregiver advantage or caregiver edge. We are experts in living in the moments, experts in giving comforts, and experts in living in an open-hearted way according to our values. We have enormous knowledge, and we have skills that we have mastered. These skills involve soothing, nurturing, navigating. Some of our skills are soft and some of them are hard...Who else knows how to repair a broken breathing tube using duct tape on a city bus? Who else can 'Macgyver' solutions better  than caregivers? We have enormous knowledge, skills and wisdom that we can be very proud of.

Zachary: Growth-related meaning is earned from our experiences that shape us in ways that others do not have access to, especially in the 21st century. The people gathered tonight are relationship innovators. Innovating and 'macgyvering' in ways that we never would have planned nor perhaps wanted. The idea that we understand silence and we are able to connect to someone with silence in ways that most others don’t. The way we understand how to truly listen to someone,  to be with someone. That we understand what can happen in a relationship when we walk in without an agenda, not having to change who they are because so many of us have to live within the constraints of the bodies and people for whom we love dearly. We cannot change the conditions, but we can learn to live with and understand who they are, and what is present and available to us, in ways that most other people cannot fathom. In America, we talk about the great innovators being in Silicon Valley, but to me, the great innovators in the 21st century are not building and engineering tools - they are building relationships in ways that other people yearn for.  We can find a sense of understanding each other in the most challenging of circumstances.

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