This article was written by Alexis Silver, a former Caregiver Homes Branch Manager.
For those of us working with elders and persons with disabilities who reside at home with loved ones, there is a tremendous opportunity to work together and celebrate the lives of consumers. More importantly, caregivers have an opportunity to honor their loved one on a daily basis, despite their difficult responsibility.
Consumers come to us from diverse backgrounds and life experiences with all types of chronic conditions. They all have stories to tell and areas of their lives they can celebrate. Stories have a way of transforming both the individual telling the story and those listening. Stories can be verbal, visual or both.
Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. — Janet Litherland
Caregiving can be an extremely stressful responsibility, but on the flip side, it provides endless opportunities to honor elders or loved ones with disabilities.
One does not need to wait, and should not wait until the final hours to embark on the celebration and honoring of their loved one's life. Structured Family Caregiving provides a unique opportunity for the celebration of life to be ongoing and often, while our consumers are here and able to celebrate with us. Furthermore, spiritual renewal and rediscovering the meaning in one's life are there for the taking when consumers, caregivers and other loved ones are mindfully present for one another.
One on one or in group conversations, pictures and stories, memory boxes, journals, and taped videos are all ways to document and celebrate the life of our consumers and carry on the person's legacy. These activities and precious moments can be enjoyed throughout the aging life cycle and can provide solace and strength to all involved.
We at Caregiver Homes become involved in the lives of our consumers and caregivers in order to make it possible for those with chronic medical and behavioral conditions to continue living at home, in the community. We are there not only to assist, support, educate and train but also to facilitate, if needed, the celebration of our consumers' lives while they are here with us.