Caregiving: Where to Start, What to Do?

My friend and her family were struggling. Her mother-in-law had had a series of health issues and, as she lived alone, was growing more socially isolated. The family worried. Could she still live alone? Should she? What if…? These situations play out across the US every single day causing angst and trauma for everyone involved.

questionMy friend was at a loss as she didn’t know where to begin to ask questions. She wondered how she could balance protecting her loved one with respecting her and supporting her wishes. One daughter’s response was to encourage (well, sort of demand) mom to move to get more support. The family worried about her safety and felt she needed more care. As often happens, this only prompted my friend’s mother-in-law to dig further into her independence – there was no way she was going anywhere. A seemingly insurmountable impasse began.

Lifesprk helps families with these situations all the time. There is no single right answer. Each situation is as unique as the individuals involved. At Lifesprk, we use our Lifesprk Experience as a framework for digging into these situations to help people like my friend’s mother-in-law discover what is most important to her and then build a pathway to achieving that goal, using proactive guidance to address any issues like health concerns that may interfere with that goal. The end result: people live sparked lives.

Increasingly studies are showing that it is critically important to build patient engagement if we want to improve outcomes. What better way to build engagement than to start by asking ‘what is most important to you?’ It helps to get everyone aligned on what the goal is, and because it is your goal, you’ll be more likely to comply with the steps necessary to reach it. My friend couldn’t wait to update me the next time I saw her: her mother-in-law had made the decision to move to a senior independent living campus all on her own! Her son said he’d never seen her look so happy. When asked to discover what was most important to her, she found that she wanted more social interaction and as she could no longer drive as much as she had before, she concluded she needed to move on her own.

Now she is all settled in. When her son asked where she’d been the other day when he called, his mother said, “Well, I’ve been to Happy Hour of course. You didn’t think I was going to sit around all day did you?” In her new environment, she has a reason to get up every morning, she’s thriving and engaging socially with others, and with what is most important to her.

What can you discover by starting to look first at what is most important to you and your loved ones?