by Mike Collins
One of the best crafting for kids teachers in America is Stacey Gibbon. A Florida-based Air Force wife, mother and crafter who writes at gluedtomycraftsblog.com, she offers her “Top 10 Crafting Tips for Kids” on the Decoart.com/blog. When used as a lens through which to view the caregiving experience, her suggestions work incredibly well.
- Keep all your craft projects simple. Too many caregivers have expectations so high that it is almost impossible to create an experience that fulfills their vision. Caregivers should make this phrase their mantra, “As long as the one I am caring for is safe, everything else is a bonus.” The more caregivers complicate the caregiving experience, the more things can go wrong and the more ways they can be stressed.
- Have a designated area for craft time. Caregivers should have a space in their home that is their space, a place to which they can retreat to think (or not), rest and heal. The space may simply be a comfortable chair in a corner with a bookshelf or side table.
- Don’t go overboard on the supplies. Anticipating needs is a good thing, but no one needs 30 rolls of bathroom tissue (one caregiver told me, “Costco had a sale”). More stuff means more to keep track of and more to complicate life.
- Have your children wear appropriate clothes. If the one you are caring for wants to be dressed a certain way, do it if at all possible. However, many caregivers dress them to fit what the caregiver wants worn. The clothing selected should be easy to put on, take off and clean.
- Finger paints are always fun. Again, depending on the condition of the one you’re caring for, keeping activities simple is best. Caregivers may believe their loved one would enjoy going to a college or pro football game, visiting a museum or going shopping. However, maybe the best thing to do is watch a game with them on television, leaf through an art book together or ask their opinions on recently purchased items.
- Don’t have time limits. Loved ones will often say that unless they are asleep or unconscious, five-minute visits from caregivers can be worse than no visits at all. Base-touching makes them feel that the caregiver has little or no time for them. Granted, everyone is busy—except for the one who needs us the most. Caregivers should try to plan for ways to spend more than a few minutes at a time with carees.
- Try not to be a helicopter mom. The opposite of base-touching is hovering. Our loved ones, especially those who have lived independent lives, understand their conditions and will let caregivers know when they need care. If your loved one is in serious condition in a hospital or other facility, healthcare professionals will keep you and other family members apprised of changes in conditions.
- Participate! Again, depending on your loved one’s condition and inclinations, caregivers should ask what activities they would like to pursue (staying active is mentally and physically healthy) and, as much as possible, participate. The sense of isolation and loneliness those in need of care feel can be debilitating. Having someone to walk with, talk with and do simple activities with can have a tremendously positive effect.
- Praise your child and display their work proudly. While caregivers should not gloss over their loved one’s condition, look for any opportunity to be positive, but without a Pollyanna attitude, which can be demeaning. Being able to walk the length of a hall, feed themselves, toilet themselves, and sit up to watch a movie may be wonderfully positive steps on the road to better health and should be noted and praised.
- Most importantly—just have fun. If it’s not fun, what is the point? If you and your loved one are happy—so be it. Granted, many readers may be shaking their heads and muttering, “Can’t do that, won’t do that, and that’s just silly!” Understandable. Your loved one’s condition and how caregivers see the experience has much to do with what you both want and can accomplish. Understanding that caregiving can range from being incredibly difficult to amazingly rewarding—in a span of five minutes—means that crafting a positive caregiving experience is one of the most important connections caregivers and those they care for will have in their lives.
Collins is the producer of the video, “Care for the Caregiver,” winner of a National Caregiver Friendly Award from Today’s Caregiver Magazine. For ways to deal with the craziness of caregiving, visit www.crazycaregiver.com
©2016 Mike Collins.