The thing about caregiving is that it is so intimate, so private, we forget that there are millions of people doing it. It is true that every caregiving situation is unique, because every family is unique and every care recipient is unique. But we shouldn’t let this blind us to the things that just about every caregiver and every caregiving situation have in common.
In talking with hundreds of caregivers, we have found that the main thing they have in common is a lack of useful information. By that I mean information that helps them solve everyday caregiving problems. It’s as though 40 million caregivers are making up 40 million different ways of doing their jobs. I mean, how do you get a stubborn parent to cooperate in preparing advanced care documents? What is the difference between regular Medicaid and Medicaid Long Term Care? What paperwork will be needed to apply for Veterans Aid and Attendance? How can my pharmacist help me with managing medications? What are my options for residential care when an elderly parent can no longer live independently?
Because 40 million plus family caregivers are wrestling with these and other problems everyday, there is bound to be a lot of hard-earned knowledge circulating out there, a lot of answers. Many of my most useful caregiving tips came from casual conversations while standing in line at the grocery, or a short conversation in the parking lot at church. Don’t be fooled by the popular image of caregivers as only confused and overwhelmed. Caregivers know stuff. The Empowered Caregiver wants to know, how is your caregiving? What are you finding out? How are you working your way through challenges? What kinds of things are still stumping you? If you let us know, we will share with the other caregivers out there, and together, make this job, this important work, easier on all of us.