Oh Happy Day

May 21, 2024

Today is National Caregivers Day. No better time to reach out and thank all the beautiful people who help care for the folks we love in our lives. In my case, there are too many to list: family, friends, paid personal care attendants, medical professionals and countless other people who help make our son’s life joyous, rewarding, safe and secure. Where would we be without them?

Caregiving isn’t always something you plan and train for. Or maybe it is. Either way, individuals and families rely on caregivers of all kinds to help our loved ones. We grow to love and integrate them into our lives in really personal and vital ways, yet we sometimes forget to let them know how important they are.

Let’s use today to make sure we express our appreciation more often. To do something nice today for the caregivers in our lives (including ourselves). Rinse and repeat often. You’re worth it. They’re worth it. We’re worth it.

person holding white and black i love you print card
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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 a caregiver.”

 Rosalyn Carter

I have a soft spot in my heart for family caregivers: unpaid helpers who give their time and energy, often for decades, to help raise an individual with disabilities or care for aging loved ones. We tend to put everyone’s needs ahead of our own. And we often ignore our exhaustion and stress. Below are 10 tips to help change this. Please share other suggestions using the link below.

1.      Say ‘no’ or ‘not now’

If this sounds difficult, try explaining that “I can’t take that on right now,” unless something gives you energy and makes your life more enriched and rewarding. Remember, you’re already “volunteering” your time by helping to care for another human being.

2.      Reduce or eliminate email

Consider a free tool like to help you gain control of your inbox. This helped me feel better about what I am accomplishing instead of being overwhelmed by all that I don’t get to in a day.

3.      Utilize delivery services

Reclaim more time in your week by utilizing delivery services for groceries and other items. Young adults with disabilities can also learn this skill to assist with shopping and more. Our son now creates a weekly meal plan with his caregivers, compiles his grocery list, and places his Instacart order twice a month. He can’t unpack items upon delivery, due to his physical limitations, but he takes great pride in contributing to and controlling the overall process. Frankly, I wish we’d taught him to do this when he lived at home.

4.      Divide & conquer to-do list items

Often, family caregivers aren’t even aware of how much we do in a day, week or month. We’re just on autopilot. Energizer bunnies who keep going and going and going. Nothing lasts forever, though, including our energy and good health. Especially if it’s not something we pay attention to. Consider using these family and caregiving responsibility lists to help you divide tasks among people who want to help. Keep the items you enjoy doing or that you must do and experiment with reassigning everything else. Expanding your loved one’s circle of support benefits everyone, especially them.

5.      Stay organized

Consider using an online organization system like VestlifeMy Data Diary or Mejo to reduce paperwork and increase access to important documents. I’ve written about these platforms in earlier issues of this newsletter and believe they are important tools in the caregiving toolkit. So is a letter of intent, which helps you share your knowledge and desires with other people in the event of an emergency.

6.      Discuss options with professionals

Remember that your child’s doctors and other professionals work for you. No matter how old your son or daughter is, medical support staff can work with you to make caregiving easier. This includes bundling appointments, being open to telehealth, accommodating mobility impairments and more. Advocate for yourself as well as your loved one so health professionals can help to reduce or eliminate some of the complexities you face everyday.

7.      Streamline family communication

Create a family text chat, Facebook group or email chain to stay connected in good times and bad. One young man I know actually writes a monthly newsletter for his family and close friends to keep them current on his schedule and needs. This enables him and the important people in his life to celebrate his successes and address any challenges both individually and collectively. He loves being an author, with editorial assistance from his beloved sister and tech support from another family member. Might this be something you want to try?

Future learning opportunities.

  • Join Dustin Watkins, Executive Director of Bittersweet Farms, on Feb 21 at 1pm EST for a virtual conversation with best practices for creating intentional communities for individuals with disabilities. Learn more and register here.

  • Sponsored by Microsoft, Ability Summit is a free digital event on March 8, 2023. Discover new accessible technology, learn from leaders with disabilities, and explore how accessibility empowers everyone within an organization, your community, and much more. Register here.

  • TASH New England is launching a three-part webinar series soon called Meaningful Lives. It will address the core aspects of a full, meaningful life for people with disabilities hosted by experts in the field. Held on Wednesdays, March 15–29, from 1:00 – 2:30 PM EST. More information is available from the series webpage.

Another Normal is a free e-newsletter for parents, caregivers and others committed to helping young adults with disabilities bloom and grow.  If this copy was forwarded to you, sign-up for your own copy below. Welcome to our community.

Interested in learning more about one-to-one coaching? Contact Kris for information on what this might look like for you, including outcomes, availability, fees and more.

Contact Kris

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