By Cindy Laverty
I love my work. I coach family caregivers and nothing brings me more joy and personal fulfillment than to help someone who is overwhelmed, frustrated, without hope and lost; find a new way of looking at their family caregiving situation and move out of being overwhelmed. I am blessed to be able to do this every day. Truthfully, for me, it’s not work. We never know when we’re going to be called upon to make a change…to move in a different direction…to have our life completely uprooted. We just never know. My life changed in a moment, although at the time, I was completely unaware of it. Unlike many family caregivers, I was asked to take care of my ex-husband’s parents 15 years after my divorce. (I know it sounds crazy, but that’s what happened.) At the time, I thought it was a small request to pay bills and check on the house when my ex father-in-law underwent open-heart surgery. Like so many caregivers, I had no idea what I was getting myself in to, and I certainly had no idea what I was doing. I cared for them for almost 6 years; I suffered some major burnout, and I almost lost my life. I couldn’t find the help I needed. I couldn’t find anyone who knew how to help me. I didn’t need a therapist or a psychiatrist. I needed a coach! I was amazed at how much help was available for them, but at the time, there wasn’t anyone who “got” what I was experiencing. So, I went on a personal journey to figure it out.
What Does A Caregiver Coach Do?
And today, I coach family caregivers and it is truly my blessing. “What is it that you do – exactly?” I am asked this question all the time, and it occurred to me that the whole idea of being a Coach for Family Caregivers is a foreign concept, which is interesting since there are over 60 million caregivers in the United States. As a society, we are very familiar with the idea of having a coach. Sports coaches, business coaches, and life coaches are common, and we also know that having a coach reaps big results. Coaches hold us accountable. Coaches view situations from a different perspective. Coaches give us action steps, and when we work with a coach, results just happen and they happen quickly.
I have spent a good portion of my life in the hands of a coach or mentor, first in sports, then for life coaching, and now for business. I find having a coach to be an enormous support for me. I participate in mastermind groups, and I’ve witnessed first hand the transformation that happens when I reach out and get help from a coach. But clearly, just because this “coaching thing” is a regular part of my life, it is becoming increasingly clear that many people simply don’t understand it; therefore, it is easily dismissed as unnecessary.
As a caregiver coach, I support the caregiver. I help the caregiver assess his/her unique situation, and then I provide guidance and solutions to help that individual make important decisions, learn better ways to engage in self-care, and navigate the often confusing world of caring for a loved one. Working with a Caregiver Coach saves you time, mental anguish, emotional pain, loss of monies from work and out of pocket expenses, and loss of self-esteem. At the core of my work is helping someone learn to live a life in balance and become empowered in the family caregiving role.
Why do I care so passionately about caregivers? As you well know, the life of a family caregiver is stressful, overwhelming, and unpredictable, but it is also manageable. I learned firsthand how challenging things can be when you don’t know what you’re doing, but also when you don’t have your personal life in order. I discovered quickly that most available resources (although plentiful) did not offer support, guidance, information, and the tools I needed to take care of myself while learning to take care of my care recipient. I didn’t need a therapist or a psychiatrist. I needed a Caregiving Coach and at the time, I couldn’t find one.
What You Should Expect From A Caregiver Coach
The genesis of my work is to support the family caregiver – be the person who comes to the rescue when you feel like your world is crumbling around you – suggest resources that can help you – help you get a handle on what you can and cannot do. I am the coach who challenges you to rise to the occasion when you think you can’t – the coach who is cheering for you from the sidelines and the one person who is there just for you whether you are having a good day or a bad day. I support YOU, the family caregiver. Here’s what you can expect when you say YES to working with a coach:
- Become an empowered caregiver
- Create a plan to make caregiving less stressful and more rewarding
- Identify solutions that make the most sense for your unique situation
- Make the decisions you know you need to make
- Learn why and how to make your own care a priority
- Evaluate and make decisions about the challenges that you face
- Create a backup plan in case something happens to you
- Learn how to effectively communicate with someone – especially your needs
- Learn and teach others how to maintain dignity in all aspects of caregiving
- Set your personal boundaries
- Set up your support system
- Learn to live life in balance and not in chaos
- Create your own self-care plan
I am not an attorney, financial planner, doctor, or a geriatric care manager, and I don’t give medical or legal advice – EVER! I leave that to those professionals in their respective fields. I am YOUR person…your support…your cheerleader…your push when you need it. I am there for you and that’s what you should expect from a caregiver coach. You didn’t get a PhD in family caregiving, and just like learning any new craft or taking up a new sport, there are ways to get started so that you can experience success. It’s a New Year. Is it time to do something differently so you can get a different result?
Cindy Laverty is a Caregiver Coach who specializes in helping families and individuals put systems and strategies in place to make the journey through caregiving less stressful and more rewarding for everyone. She works with clients via the phone or Skype. Sometimes called, “The Fairy Godmother of Caregiving,” Cindy transforms caregivers’ lives. She is the Founder of The Care Company, an Internet-based company dedicated to help caregivers get the answers they need. You can find Cindy at http://thecarecompany.biz. The Care Company has just launched a new, interactive site designed especially for family caregivers. She is also the author of Caregiving: Eldercare Made Clear & Simple.