Do you provide support such as cooking, cleaning, running errands, prescription management, personal care or daily companionship for a relative, neighbor or loved one?
If your answer is “yes,” you are a caregiver.
Rosalynn Carter said it best: “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”
On Vashon, with a median age of 53 and 38% of us over 60, we all know families who are piecing resources together so their loved ones can stay in their own homes, or “age in place,” for as long as possible. We love our idyllic island life but worry about how we will manage if someone in our family is injured or diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness.
Fortunately, we have a network of support – nonprofit organizations, faith groups, kind neighbors and competent professional caregivers, who are all part of the solution. But the reality is that caregiving is a time-consuming undertaking that can easily lead to stress, burnout and financial hardship.
The demands of caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. Whether you are caring for an aging parent, a seriously ill spouse or child or some other special person in need, you have no doubt experienced both the reward and isolation, the grief and guilt, and the exhaustion and challenges of your situation.
Research shows that developing coping strategies and having a community of support can sustain you through the hardest days.
Several years ago, I attended a workshop by Jonathan Prescott, chaplain, pastoral counselor and founder of Wise Caregiving, at the Vashon Community Care Center.
I went as a private family member in the midst of caring for my father in his last days. I was struck by Jonathan’s words and encouragement on keeping balance as a caregiver. His words of wisdom have stayed with me all these years as I navigate running a supported living agency and professional caregiving.
The Vashon Care Network has invited Jonathan to spend an afternoon with us to share his insights about the challenges we face as both family and professional caregivers. He will provide the opportunity to engage in a wise conversation about balance and boundaries and provide practical suggestions for challenging times.
I can vouch for his gift to reconnect us with our innate wisdom, compassion and joy.
Please join us from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Puget Sound Zen Center, 18005 Vashon Highway. For more information, visit vashoncarenetwork.org.
Blythe Deines is the director of Hershey Housing, a Vashon-supported living agency, and a board member of Vashon Care Network.