Today’s guest blog is from Yosaif August of www.yestolifecoaching.com, and the author of the book, Coaching for Caregivers. We know that holidays increase joy—and stress. August says caregivers, like the rest of us, must find ways to manage holiday stress. Even if friends and family cause stress, they can also help ease it. Here’s how to start a conversation that allows love and support to flow freely among the participants, so you can help ease caregivers’ holiday stress.
1) Begin a respectful, productive conversation with the caregiver without invading their privacy.
First, find a private time and place and ask permission to discuss their caregiving situation. For example: “I want to check in with you about how caregiving is going and (not but!) I don’t want to intrude. Can we talk?” You don’t know what kind of response you’ll elicit, but respecting the caregiver’s space by asking for permission to speak is love and support in its own right.
2) Agree about whether this conversation—or part of it—is confidential or not.
You want to engender enough trust so the person feels safe sharing what is truly going on in their life.
3) Ask questions about the caregiver’s well-being and be a good listener.
This conversation is about being present, listening attentively and not being too quick to dive into problem-solving. Ask one or two broad and general questions and then let things evolve. For example, “I so much admire what you’re doing; how are you managing to do it?”
4) Honor and affirm the caregiver for their generosity, perseverance, and commitment.
Caregiving is one of the most generous acts, even if we do it ambivalently, reluctantly, resentfully, or out of sense of guilt. We put another’s needs ahead of our own and interrupt our own priorities.
5) Explore ways to share the care and be part of the caregiver’s circle of support.
Ask what you could do in the following week that would lighten their burden in a practical way. For example, why not offer to have a follow-up conversation soon to help them strengthen their support network?
6) Offer to help them explore the possibilities of using a caresite.
August coined the term “caresite” to describe websites that help famiIy caregivers share their own news and needs with people who care about them. He likes Caring Bridge, Lotsa Helping Hands and CarePages, he says. If caregivers are unfamiliar with these sites—and maybe not extraordinarily computer-literate—why not sit with the caregiver and show them the way?
So many ways to show a caregiver you care, and it doesn’t cost a lot to do so. Happy, caring 2014.