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Power Caregiving

By Mary Z. McGrath, Ph.D.

(Page 1 of 6)

When the first signs of a serious illness occur in a spouse, friend or family member, one may feel very powerless and overwhelmed. Surprisingly though, when assuming the role of caregiver, whether directly in your home or indirectly if your loved one is in a facility or hospital, you can discover your personal power. By focusing on the job skills that you already have, you can move into the role of caregiver and become a powerful and effective advocate for the person experiencing a challenging illness.

Consider the skills you use in your professional job role. This could include work in the business world, education, other professions and parenting. Realize that over time you have sharpened your range of talents and skills in order to work successfully in your career or parenting role. Though these skills work for you on the job, they are also within you 24/7. It is a matter of naming them for transfer to another venue where they will show themselves in a different form. Then you can target them for maximum benefit to your loved one.

Following are seven skills that professionals and parents develop to work successfully on the job and in their specific roles.

1.   Communication: Fundamentally, this involves effective speaking and writing skills used on behalf of someone who is unable to do that for themselves due to illness or loss of abilities. Caregiver communication also involves learning the communication styles and networks of those who assist your loved one. Notice the methods used for staff to communicate with one another on both a formal and informal basis. Once you learn how hospital or care facility staffers communicate among themselves, you can move your concerns forward. Make it a point to know when and how often team information sharing meetings or care conferences are held. Find out how care providers transfer information when making a transition between shifts or facilities. Then determine what you can do to ensure that the proper information flows along their communication networks and reaches the proper people on a regular basis.


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