Strength-based Care Management
Do you know your strengths? Understanding your strengths can give you confidence, courage, and other necessary resources as you face the many demands and emotional upheavals of being a caregiver.
Take a few minutes to list your strengths and consider how to make the most of them. Below are some examples of strengths to consider.
- Love and care. Your deep caring for someone who is ill or disabled is perhaps your greatest asset. The love in your heart can lead to a more intimate and satisfying relationship with your loved one than you have experienced previously. Scientists have shown that concentrating on positive feelings such as love, compassion, and appreciation can actually decrease any stress that you are feeling and its negative consequences to your health.
- Resilience. Count on your experience with overcoming difficulties in the past to help you now. Consider making a list of all your past victories to buoy your courage and remind you of what works.
- Creativity. If you have ever found a solution to a problem, you are creative. Creativity is the ability to come up with a fresh approach and is the opposite of staying stuck. How do you keep yourself thinking freshly? How can you do more of it when your loved one's situation seems impossible?
- Wit. You know how to laugh. What makes you laugh? Who makes you laugh? How can you view your present circumstance with a sense of humor?
- Emotional balance. When you feel in balance, you make good choices and manage your life well. What are some ways you keep your emotional balance?
- Emotional honesty. Staying in balance does not mean denying your feelings. Willingness to feel your fear, grief, resentment, or other uncomfortable feelings is a strength that can help you stay present and connected to yourself and others.
- Spirituality. Your personal beliefs and spiritual practices can be big assets, helping you find meaning and comfort in the experience of caregiving.
- Common sense. Sometimes you can overlook the obvious. When things seem to have gotten out of hand, you can always step back a moment and draw on your common sense. For example, if you need help, ask for it.
- Living arrangements. Do you have a place to live? Does your loved one? Is it conveniently located? What else is helpful about your living arrangements?
- Transportation. Do you have adequate private or public transportation that will make it easy for you to get your loved one to appointments?
- Money. Consider all your financial assets, including your ability to borrow. Include any insurance you have when naming your strengths.
- Family, friends, and neighbors. Who are the people close to you who can help, in big ways and small? What exactly can they do for you if you ask?
- Pets. A comforting companion can make you and your loved one smile and help you get through dark days. If you have a pet you love, you have a big asset!
- Faith communities. Check with your place of religious affiliation to see if it has home visitors, prayer support, or other supportive services that you can use.
- Day care and respite programs. Look for services in your community that will give you a time out from caregiving by taking care of your loved one regularly or occasionally.
- Home care services. Check with your health care plan or with local programs serving seniors to find out what health care, personal care, and other services are available if you're caring for someone at home.
- Support groups. Many health care facilities, seniors’ programs, faith communities, and organizations for specific illnesses or disabilities offer support groups. Find out what is available in your community. Or check out the resources that the web site of the National Family Caregiver Support Program lists.
- Information. Support groups may have written information, classes, or individual training that can teach you know how to give good care and to take care of yourself. Many wonderful websites are available for caregivers, offering information, resources, online support groups, and other types of personalized support.
What other inner strengths do you have? What would it take to expand them? The more you know your strengths and use them, the smaller your problems will seem.
Page Author: Pat Samples was the editor of The Phoenix, a Midwest wellness publication, for eight years, is the author of books about caregiving and support for caregiving, and is a transformational educator.