Greetings one and all…

It is a glorious spring morning in Denver. My window on the world reveals blue skies, sunshine, flowers, and green grass. A lovely change from the 15” of snow that Mother Nature dropped in our backyard last weekend. Springtime in the Rockies. Gotta love it! I had a preview of the spring snowstorm as I drove back from the Western Slope of Colorado. I made it up and over the mountain passes with only a few snow showers—thank goodness. Driving in snow is not my favorite past time! I was returning from a Caregiver Summit held annually in Montrose for family caregivers.

It is always a delight and honor to participate in caregiver conferences. But I have to say, the gathering in Montrose this year touched me in a profound way. Perhaps it was the setting—I love the western part of Colorado. Mountains. Valleys. Red rocks. The perfect combination. Or maybe it was the people I had the pleasure to meet and to work with—the staff of Region 10 as well as volunteers. Committed, caring, and competent care providers. And then again, maybe it was the family caregivers I met who graciously shared their stories of caring for family members and friends. Stories of courage and compassion. Upon reflection, it was all of that and so much more! The setting, the professional care providers, and family caregivers came together thus highlighting the fact that caregiving takes a village—we need and want trusted caring companions as our respective caregiving journeys unfold. Working together—caring together—enriches the journey for all concerned.

Regardless of where you live, every family—every community—must contemplate and plan for the needs of an aging population if we are to age well and be well. Rural communities like Montrose pose different caregiving challenges than metropolitan areas like Denver. On the flip side, both settings present unique opportunities related to caregiving as well. So our task is to overcome the challenges while leveraging the opportunities for the betterment of caregivers and care receivers. Sometimes easier said than done, right?

Perhaps the first step toward compassionate, beneficial care is the realization that caregiving takes a village—the collaborative efforts of individuals, families, organizations, professionals, and municipalities. Consider the various types of care and services typically needed as the caregiving journey unfolds—acute care, long-term care, respite care, support groups, transportation services, hospice care, home health care, rehabilitation services, pastoral care, psychosocial services, and grief counseling (just to name a few!). No one person, family, or organization can address every need. However, as I witnessed in Montrose, if we are willing to pool our collective resources and work toward the common goal of caring for each other, then compassionate care IS possible. Coming together—working together—transforms our experience of giving and receiving care. Obviously, I am inspired and motivated by my recent trip. No doubt, I have much more to learn from this caring community. So, I am already making plans to return to the Western Slope. A good thing indeed!

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I invite you to share your perspective on the caregiving journey. Make suggestions. Pose questions. Provide resources. Share your story. Coming together and sharing, we will improve the process for one and all. I look forward to continuing the conversation next month. Til then, enjoy the moment…Jane W. Barton

Do you have a question for Jane? Please email us at coaarp@aarp.org and we will be in touch soon!

 

Jane W. Barton, MTS, MASM, CSA is a passionate speaker, writer, and listener. Jane is the founder of Cardinal, LLC, a consulting firm that provides educational programs to assist people in confronting the daunting challenges posed by aging,  serious illness and disability. Jane is well-versed in the areas of grief and bereavement, caregiving, hospice and palliative care, change and transition, and spirituality and health. She presents innovative, transformational programs to community members, healthcare providers, pastoral caregivers, clergy, funeral service providers, and national audiences to improve the experience of people and families challenged by serious, advanced, or terminal illnesses. Previously, Jane served as Director of Education for a hospice and palliative care educational institution. She has also served as a hospice chaplain and bereavement facilitator in hospice and palliative care. Jane is a certified Spiritual Director as well as a Certified Senior Advisor. In a former life, she worked as a financial services representative and an exploration petroleum geologist and manager.

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