I want to talk about a very important concept, building your “care partner team.” It is far too easy to think as a spouse (or primary family caregiver) facing caregiving … “I can do it all” or “I have to do it all”.
You know I always loved that song by Helen Reddy, “You and Me Against the World.” But that is absolutely NOT the right perspective. You will burn out AND loved one will miss out on the caring, love, expertise and rich relationships with others.
Building your care partner team is vital. Ours include a wonderful adult day program (two days a week), our adult children (living across the country), my husband’s alumni friends, his doctors and nurses. It’s true that my husband’s condition continues to “evolve” and I often feel I am in a state of constant assessing and adjusting. But I know I have my “care partner team” in place and ready to help us. Before I ask for help, I am careful and respectful to think about the right person and right question to ask.
I am often faced with the challenge of getting my husband somewhere that I know is impossible for me alone. Instead of just saying, “sorry I just can’t get him there”, I think about who best could help me. Last April when Bill’s sister passed away in NY, it was my Denver son who flew in and helped me fly his dad to a family gathering and funeral that meant the world to Bill. Afterwards, the 3 of us drove around to special places in Bill’s hometown as Bill shared memories of his years there. It was an incredibly meaningful time for each of us. And, it was at the end of that visit that our Denver son looked at me and said, “Mom, you can no longer do this on your own.” And so began our move to Denver.
The lesson: Build and nurture your care partner team for your loved one and yourself. It’s not just finding and coordinating care, expertise and support. It’s about expanding the circle of love for you and your loved one!