Covid solitude has provided time for lots of introspection and reflection. There was a time I would have been on the front lines. Now, somewhat sadly in a spirit of self-preservation, I have to sit back watching, remembering and considering.
I have been thinking of the basic elements which contribute to a life-affirming care reality. One change for me—I use the word care more than caregiving or care-receiving. Why? Because everybody in the situation needs and deserves care.
Basic elements in good care (in no particular order): empathy, ethics, economics, expertise, emotions, energy. Easy to see how these are also the basic elements of good community life—not surprising given care is part and parcel of nurturing and cherishing community members.
In a crisis there is a necessary rush to act. There is no time to discuss ethics or economics. In fact, it might be a waste of valuable time better spent on an intervention. In contrast, incorporating care into the culture of a family or network, if it is to be a win-win, requires lots of discussion about these elements. On-going care is more of a marathon—ask any new parents!
Two recent articles in the New York Times describe current realities and ask important questions.
50 Million Americans Are Unpaid Caregivers. We Need Help.
Dad, a Death Sentence and the Planner Who Set Us Straight
How do we work towards creating a win-win for everybody involved? I suggest that the basic elements I list can provide the basics for developing a family/network strategy. Given the demographics of aging, I think it is essential for every family and network to have these discussions. What is the latest estimate—one in six Americans are over 65? How many in your family? Network?
Thanks for this, Peg. This piece reminded me of something a friend shared during Covid: https://revolutionfromhome.com/2020/05/dear-overwhelmed-fed-up-mothers-the-world-needs-your-wisdom/?fbclid=IwAR0DgBBBjmO3nzJvltNMVSIedFgDRXOIAZAodkWISOIIdu4A05xJMaTvjP4
I especially appreciate her saying: Now is our time – not for taking action, but for “peer-ing through that mighty thin veil and opening our hearts to the gems that are rising to the surface”. It’s a subtle but essential difference from saying “something should be done about this!” in a burst of fury with very little pause for reflection and strategic thinking.
Of course, something should be done about this. None of any of this is new. What can we do to change it? Let’s think deeply, by ourselves and together. What’s the next best thing to do that will have the impact we want it to have?
Thanks for this link. Ben. “Thinking deeply” thinking strategically … occasionally swept up in the fury and emotion—how not?—and then coming back to the quiet depths where alone and together we can craft responses instead of reactions. The story that keeps coming to mind is about a cholera outbreak in London(?); how a man observed what was happening there and in other neighborhoods; finally figured out that the common well was contaminated. What has always gripped me about this story is that the guy was willing to stay in that neighborhood and observe; not rushing to judgment; not unmoved by all the death around him but not drowning in it.