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?