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The Caregiver's Cairn: Got Bounce

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Blog by Jane Barton

Greetings one and all...

Welcome back to The Caregiver’s Cairn - a sustaining and empowering guide for caregivers and care receivers. I hope you and yours have enjoyed a lovely month since my last posting. I invite you to pour a cup of coffee or hot tea, curl up in a cozy chair, and take a deep breath. Today, let’s chat about bouncing. Wait - stay seated! This is not an aerobics class. First, we will talk about bouncing. Then, feel free to bounce to your heart’s content. So, what is bouncing? Resilience - the process of bouncing back from adversity. This is currently a topic of great interest, debate, and research. Why  do some people thrive while others wither when confronted by daunting challenges?  As caregivers, how can we enhance our ability to bounce? If you are feeling a bit deflated today, keep reading. I have some ideas to bounce off of you!

At birth, I think we should all be issued a set of heavy duty shock absorbers with detailed instructions on how and when to use. I know of no one who has been able to avoid the bumps and resultant bruises of life. As human beings, we will experience the highs and lows of life - and the transitions between the peaks and valleys are rough. It is during the stressful, difficult times that we realize the importance of resilience - the ability to “bounce back” from adversity. Resilience is not a trait. Rather, it is a process of adaptation.

Resilience includes attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and actions that can be learned (or enhanced) at any time. It’s reassuring to realize that resilience is quite common. In fact, it is the norm rather than the exception. Regardless, the bounce demonstrated by others in the midst of daunting situations astounds us. I’m sure you’ve been amazed at your own ability to bounce during a crisis. However, it doesn’t just happen. Bouncing is intentional. We choose to accept the reality of the situation and to respond as required. We choose to bounce!

What enhances our ability to bounce? Well, according to the American Psychological Association in The Road to Resilience ( apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx) and Dr. Steven Southwick in his book Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges (2012), resilient people share some common attitudes, beliefs, and approaches to life. As you consider the various bounce factors listed below, recognize the ones that resonate with you. Although each factor can enhance our ability to bounce, most people naturally gravitate to a select few. So let’s consider the common characteristics of resilient people. What do we need to bounce?

  • Foundational Sense of Meaning and Purpose
  • Sustaining Belief System
  • Realistic Optimism
  • Courage
  • Self-Confidence and Self-Knowing
  • Supportive and Sustaining Community
  • Resilient Role Models
  • Physical, Emotional, Mental Fitness
  • Cognitive Flexibility
  • Sense of Humor
  • Survivor versus Victim Mentality
  • Recognition and Acceptance of Change as the Norm

 

Resilience is a process that enables and empowers caregivers and care receivers to navigate the daunting challenges posed by aging, illness, and disability. When resilient, the burdens of caregiving may bend us, but we will not break. We will bounce back. Life can be shocking to say the very least! Instead of being shattered by the unexpected and the unwanted, we have the freedom to choose a response to life. May we choose to bounce!

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, blessings to you and yours...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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