Coaching: A New Support for Caregivers

It’s no surprise that providing care for a family member is a full time job.  This is especially so if caregivers provide daily care in addition to their already stressful jobs, whether at the office or at home. Even if direct care is not a regular occurrence, there is a backdrop of tasks that can overwhelm even the most conscientious.

A variety of scenarios may arise that challenge caregivers. The homemaker might have just quit and someone needs to be with mom, so you can go to work.  Or, when you are at work, she calls repeatedly complaining that she is bored.  Coming up with an activity schedule may be the hurdle you face.  How do you figure out how to care for her, as her condition worsens, when quitting your job is not an option? What resources can you draw upon? How do you get support from your family when you have historically been the one caring for your mom?  Or how do you lessen the stress when family meetings bring out the differences among your siblings in how to best care for mom?

These are just a few of the common worries family care givers carry around, that puts added strain on their already taxed days and nights. It can be immobilizing. If caregivers do not get help, both they and the family members they are caring for can be at risk.

When too many important tasks are relegated to the “back-burner” and don’t seem to ever get handled, the care provided a family member suffers. This is so very common and yet, so unnecessary!

Change, both rewarding and challenging, is to be expected. People who have taken on the care of a loved one need the structure to successfully meet these challenges, while at the same time, balancing their day-to-day lives.

Sometimes all we strive for is someone who can help us to prioritize tasks, create a structure to manage what has so far felt unmanageable and provide a way to ensure that as additional tasks arise, they can also be handled before becoming overwhelming and out of control.

Coaching can occur in one on one sessions, group sessions and most recently, is being used over the phone, called “virtual” coaching. This option, created by new phone technology accessible to all telephone users, has opened the door to the busiest of us who seek the convenience, privacy or simply cannot get out easily due to their caregiving responsibilities.

Life coaching is the perfect solution that combines the care giver’s own agenda with a trained professional who will:

  • help clarify and prioritize tasks,
  • support the development of a personal action plan to facilitate accomplishment of these goals,
  • maintain accountability to the implementation of that plan, and
  • help develop strategies to maintain changes, so caregivers are freed to move on to the additional goals or projects with new-found energy.

Coaches, like those professional athletes use, focus on breakthrough improvements that produce results unattainable without an individually designed workout regimen. In this example, the athlete has a clear physical or skill strengthening goal, the need for a workout and schedule replete with exercises to meet the stated goals, and assurances through on-going coach support and encouragement, that the workout is executed, and revamped, as progress in strength or skill is gained.

Simply put, the family care giver, like the athlete, is similarly strengthened with the support and skill of a coach whose sole purpose is to help the caregiver accomplish the goal of being competent, compassionate and emotionally strong as they care for their aging or disabled loved one.