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The Caregiver’s Cairn: CareMaps—A Catalyst for Conversations About Care

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Jane Barton

Greetings one and all…

I hope you and yours are enjoying the Fall season. As I write this blog posting, it feels more like Summer than Fall. A bit toasty in Denver for the middle of September. However, I will relish my memory of today when the snow is flying a few short months from now! Today, I want to share some information regarding a beneficial resource for caregivers and care receivers that I learned of last week. I attended a workshop sponsored by AARP Colorado in which I had the opportunity to test drive the process of creating a CareMap—a resource developed by Atlas of Caregiving. Based upon my brief experience, I believe this tool holds great promise for family caregivers. Allow me to explain…

Over the past twelve years, I have presented countless programs on various aspects of caregiving. One of the most important topics I address is collaborative care—an approach to caregiving that encourages primary caregivers to share the responsibilities of care with other family members, friends, and professional caregivers. Although most people agree that sharing in the care of a loved one makes sense, it is typically hard for most people to ask for and to receive help. Additionally, many family caregivers fail to realize how much care they provide (to the care receiver as well as other family members and friends) and the potentially negative impact on their own health and well being. Far too often primary caregivers compromise their own health as a result of caring for a loved one.

Consequently, I am always seeking innovative ways “to show” primary caregivers how their network of support is serving them…or not! This requires a very nuanced conversation so as not to sound judgmental. That is why I am very excited about integrating CareMaps into my presentations. By creating a CareMap, a primary caregiver can readily identify the gaps of care, the needed resources, the availability of other caregivers, the potential risks of the current situation, and the future caregiving needs.

Are you intrigued to learn more about creating your own CareMap? I certainly hope so! Please accept my invitation to check out the Atlas of Caregiving website ( www.AtlasofCaregiving.com). Once there, you will discover 3 videos related to CareMaps—designed to walk you through the concept, the process, and the potential benefits of CareMaps. Drawing your network of support is merely the beginning of the process (a relatively simple task to complete). From what I observed and experienced in the workshop last week, the greatest benefit of a CareMap is the conversation about the CareMap—the revelations, the concerns, the questions, the ideas, and the ah-ha’s realized by SEEING the caregiving situation.

Thus, a CareMap has the potential to spark constructive conversations with your family members, friends, and health care professionals. A CareMap is not magical—it won’t instantly resolve the problematic issues of your caregiving situation. However, a CareMap assists you in identifying areas of concern and potentially reveals possible solutions. How you choose to utilize a CareMap is entirely up to you! Be creative. Be imaginative. Be proactive in strengthening your community of care.

I will close with a request. If you opt to explore CareMaps, I would love to hear what you think about the process. After viewing the videos online, were you able to construct your CareMap easily? Upon completion, what did you do with the CareMap? Did you discuss your CareMap with family members and friends? If you did, were the conversations beneficial? I am open to positive feedback as well as constructive criticism. Please feel free to email your impressions to CardinaLife@msn.com. I hope to share this resource with caregivers who attend my programs in the future. Your stories will serve to enrich the discussion. Such is the beauty of collaborative care—sharing resources and supporting each other throughout the journey of caregiving.

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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