Judy Shares Stories of Care-giving & Supporting Caregivers
When we’re on the phone, Judy explains that she wanted to make sure her mother-in-law would already be asleep. She had scheduled our call for late Tuesday night – well late for the east coast, but 6pm in Los Angeles. Judy has been a caregiver for many years, first for her own parents and now for her 90 year-old mother-in-law. “What have you learned facilitating Building Better Caregivers®?” I ask. Judy replies, “It is less about learning and teaching, and more about growing.” She goes on to share a small nugget of her experience.
It’s many years ago and she is facilitating one of her first Building Better Caregivers workshop for caregivers. One of the participants posts on a particularly tough day saying, “If I don’t get out of the house, something bad will happen.” In that moment, Judy realizes that it is more than ok, that sometimes it is necessary for a caregiver to take time for oneself. She understands that caregivers need to find “respite.” From that exchange, Judy begins to build this important message into her workshop facilitation and coaching, encouraging caregivers to take the needed personal time.
And she lives it in her own life. She describes to me how she and her husband have built a schedule in their caregiving to ensure they each have their personal time. They trade off time looking after her mother-in-law, and once a month they get help so they can enjoy dinner out together.
“How have you found participants’ response?” I ask. “Just amazing,” Judy responds. “I remember a workshop maybe two years ago… a participant started the program near depressed and unable to think about herself and her own needs. I made several suggestions, pointed to parts in the supplemental book (that would help her), and shared my personal stories. By the end of six weeks the participant was not only taking time to walk alone, and getting moments to herself, but she had started walking with her care partner. So both were getting better.”
Not only has Judy been a participant and a workshop facilitator, but for the last years she has been a Mentor to other facilitators. Mentor is an important and formal role in the workshops. Judy shares what she loves most about this role is “watching the facilitators grow.” I smile knowing the power of the model at work at each level – participant, facilitator and mentor – and am glad we have people like Judy to share parts of their story, and nurture the story of others.