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I don't think I can be a positive caregiver...

“We must be true to each other.”—Lucy Stone (1818–1893)

The thought of becoming a caregiver for an older loved one can elicit different reactions: some people eagerly accept the role, while others may feel hesitant - even resistant. If you identify with the latter, know that you're not alone. Caregiving can entail a significant amount of responsibility, and caring for an older loved one may demand stepping out of your comfort zone in numerous ways. Learning new hands-on care tasks, reconnecting with distant relationships, or navigating new communication dynamics can involve a learning curve that requires time. Let's clarify what we mean when we say Positive Caregiving:

  1. Positive caregiving doesn't imply constant positivity. Instead, it promotes a mindset that views caregiving as an opportunity rather than an obligation.

  2. Positive caregiving doesn't mean suppressing or ignoring negative emotions that may arise. Instead, it encourages embracing and harnessing positive emotions, such as gratitude, empathy, forgiveness, love, and awe, to counterbalance caregiving-related negative emotions.

  3. Positive caregiving isn't exclusively for those with positive relationships with their care partner. It seeks to foster and rebuild relationships between care partners, even when the relationship begins strained.

The first step in choosing to be a positive caregiver is often just a matter of realizing that a positive experience of caregiving is possible. One simple suggestion we have is to write a care-partner mission statement together to help start a new caregiving relationship off on a positive note or to help realign a current care partnership for direction moving forward.

Organizations have long looked to mission statements to provide inspiration and alignment. Families say that family missions statements can help to provide a sense of comfort and clarity in times adversity and we think this works for care partners too. So we recently created a free Care Partner Mission Statement Workbook that is available for download on the Positive Caregiving library to help care partners craft their own unique mission statement. We hope you will find it a helpful resource in your care journey.

This blog post was adapted from Positive Caregiving, the book, to be published May 2023.

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