Homecare has been identified as the preferred arrangement for temporary or long-term caregiving as well as care-receiving. Undoubtedly, home care is the preferred option for temporary spousal caregiving. Issues that result in the decision to place a loved one needing care in a non-home setting for often relates to a person’s mental and physical abilities, psychological well-being, autonomy, caregiver burden, best interests of the care-receiver, and security.
During the pandemic, my elderly aunt suffered long-Covid effects. She was physically able to stay in her home, but needed 24/7 assistance with meal planning, meal preparation, bathing, dressing, walking, shopping, house cleaning, and financial management. She had four adult children, including adult grandchildren and little great-grandchildren.
From my vantage point, I observed that each of my aunt’s children and grandchildren demonstrated a personal caregiving superpower—their own spiritual gift(s) of love. One of my aunt’s sons managed her finances. A daughter and adult granddaughter temporarily moved into her home to provide personal care, meal planning/cooking, and housekeeping. A second daughter brought in meals on the weekends, did the weekly shopping, and took her mom on out-of-the-house diversions. Another son provided home maintenance and grounds-keeping tasks. Each of the kids, and grandchildren visited in their usual fashion and offering stimulation. My aunt was joyful! Everyone took turns spending time with her so the in-house daughter and granddaughter could get away for a few hours, an evening, weekend, or holiday.
As I observed from a distance, I thought that identifying one’s caregiving superpower may just be a remarkable way to share caregiving tasks. Each person had a superpower they were proud to offer. They gave of it lovingly and freely. It afforded each to display their strength(s). It was organic and natural. Doing so lessened the burden on any single individual and minimized conflict as each person respected one another’s boundaries. They devised a flexible week-by-week schedule to handle emergencies and provide respite. When there was a crisis (and there were), someone was always able to respond with immediacy. They utilized home care and ultimately hospice services, including chaplain care that was available to any member of the family.
Next time you or a loved one needs caregiving, examine your spiritual gifts. Challenge others to look for theirs. Set boundaries. Build a flexible schedule and offer one another respite.
Submitted by Suzan Olson, PhD, MHS, RN, Board Certified Chaplain