Tip #2: Agree about whether this conversation – or part of it – is confidential or not.
It would seem like this idea is a no-brainer. Of course it would be confidential.
But let’s look at what confidentiality can look like. In it’s simple form it may mean you won’t tell anyone what the caregiver told you. Or there may be a small group of people that the caregiver would be comfortable being in the know.
Or it may mean that you and the caregiver agree about what, if anything, might be shared with other people. For example, you might not share the nature or details of the medical condition that the person being cared for is dealing with. Or share only the most basic information about it. But you might agree that it’s okay to let people know that she is going for treatment and needs rides for her children to their after school activities. You might offer to be the coordinator of this or help the caregiver to set up a caresite (caring bridge.com, lotsahelpinghands.com) that has a calendar on it that people can directly use to find out what is needed and sign up for it.
So the “what” and the “who” are areas to discuss and come to an agreement on.
Having this conversation can help the caregiver open up to your caring and support while feeling secure that her personal boundaries will be respected.
Having this conversation is in itself an expression of caring and support. It’s a powerful one. It’s a gift. And, a pretty distinctive and wonderful gift for this time of year!
Tip #1: Begin a respectful, productive conversation with the caregiver without invading their privacy.
Why is this important to do?
One of the very common predicaments of caregiving is how isolated the caregivers can become. Social isolation is bad for our health. It can be especially harmful to caregivers.
How do caregivers become socially isolated?
All too often caregivers are so intensely focused on what needs to be done that they don’t have time or energy to reach out – either for support or even simple socializing.
Their friends, on the other hand, often don’t reach out to them for a number of reasons.
• They’re busy themselves and aren’t aware of their friends’ isolation.
• They’re afraid they’ll be blown off by the caregiver, their reaching out being seen as intrusive.
• Or they simply don’t know how to start a conversation with them.
This coaching tip will provide you with a straightforward way to start the conversation.
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?” There’s no guarantee about how this inquiry will land and what kind of response you’ll get; however, respecting their space by asking for permission to speak about this is an expression of love and support in its own right.
Holidays increase stress for everyone, especially caregivers. A new APA study found that more than 6 out of 10 Americans report significantly more stress during the holidays (Here’s the link.)
Caregivers need to find ways to manage their stress this holiday season and family and friends can use their holiday gatherings to help them do this. But first they need to open the door to a conversation with the caregiver about how they are doing. Here are tips for them to get this conversation going and allowing the love and support to flow.
1) Begin a respectful, productive conversation with the caregiver without invading their privacy.
2) Agree about whether this conversation – or part of it – is confidential or not.
3) Ask questions about the caregiver’s well-being and be a good listener.
4) Honor and affirm the caregiver for their generosity, perseverance, and commitment.
5) Explore ways to share the care and be part of the caregiver’s circle of support.
6) Offer to help them explore the possibilities of using a caresite ( i.e. a free, easy to set up and easy to use website that helps caregivers get the support they need in the ways they want it).
Over the next week I will focus on each of these 6 tips.
Before we start, I offer a few questions for you to consider and comment on.
Which friends of yours are doing caregiving – either directly or from afar?
Who can you imagine might be open to having a conversation with you about how they are doing?
What will it take for you to be willing to step forward and start a conversation with them?
My big message this holiday season? This all about relationship and connection. Caregivers can not do this alone. You can use the warmth of your holiday gathering to open up the healing possibilities that are right in front of you.