The Caregiver Advantage
Elizabeth developed and facilitates The Caregiver Advantage, an educational training in self-care focusing on caregiver resilience through interactive creative exercises and relaxation practices.
- Restore a sense of personal choice and well-being.
- Make this unmanageable role, manageable.
- Recognize the power of knowledge and self-advocacy.
- Acknowledge the impact of current life-changes.
- Build a foundation of support so you are not “going it alone”.
Upon completion of this first intensive portion of TCA, a monthly support group will reinforce newly-acquired skills and provide an on-going opportunity for personal communication and further growth.
Facilitator guidelines for using the simple materials listed are included in the manual.
THE CAREGIVER ADVANTAGE
An inviting, even playful creative arts group process gives caregivers a relaxing approach to practical suggestions in each of the seven group meetings. Each session focuses on a key concept to encourage the caregiver to begin to take care of themselves, access the services available in the community and ask for the help needed from family and friends.
Press play to watch a demonstration of the program
Reflections from program participants:
“This program was incredibly supportive, comprehensive and a wealth of information. Getting to participate with the other caregivers in using and sharing the materials was again like being in my quilting group “sharing the squares of my life”! I am now caring for my spouse, but I was a professional, a social worker, and I really appreciate experiencing a pioneering and inventive program. It is so needed in today’s scarcity of programs focused on the caregiver.”
Sarah, Caregiver, Caregiver Advantage participant
“The playful materials helped me rediscover me inside the caregiver. Great role playing showed me what it is to really ask for the family to step it up. The listening and sharing in the group let me know what I am doing is important and that I am important, too. I learned I can focus on my health and worth. I can practice relaxing for me and picking priority tasks each day. Thank you for making this possible!”
Shelley, Caregiver, Caregiver Advantage participant
“This has been so different from the usual support group. It was great to use the fun materials to explore myself and find out I can take are of me AND mom.”
Lynn, Caregiver, Caregiver Advantage participant
The Caregiver Advantage participants say
“What I Learned”
Most repeated “What I learned” comment in mid-year evaluation:
TO KNOW THAT I AM NOT ALONE.
I liked the focus on a caregiver topic each time and the discussions: this was very helpful. I learned about self care and my own choices in caregiving. I can face the changes as they come, knowing I can ask for help from this group. I learned how to ask for help even from family and friends now.
“I learned I can speak up for me to the doctors about what the real actions and behaviors of the patient (my husband) are at home and that this is part of MY being safe, able to sleep at night, remain healthy and able to keep going as his caregiver.”
I learned I can set better limits and retain more of me.
I learned it is OK to think about myself and not the patient (my mother) all the time.
I learned I do not have to feel guilty about taking care of myself, too. I am learning how to delegate and ask for help in some of the overwhelming responsibilities that I have accumulated over these years of caring.
I have learned in the process group not to hide my feelings or I will be the one getting sick, to breathe deeply for a 5 minute break when I need it and to listen to the other caregiver’s ideas and techniques in managing everything we do every day.
Thoughts on TCA as peer-based support:
(Note from Elizabeth, Facilitator: In addition to the monthly meeting, the group participants provide support to one another through phone partnering, email and blog.)
I feel welcomed and safe in this group. My burden is shared.
Even in midst of hearing each other’s difficulties, there is humor and LAUGHTER! I have missed laughter.
Reaching out to one another helps me to be less stressed.
I learned to reach out and support my peers: we can laugh and cry together, knowing we are doing the best that we can every day.
I learned to share my life as a caregiver, which allowed me to connect to the group and begin to take care of myself as the caregiver for my husband.
I learned I can feel validated that I am doing the best I can to keep him safe and secure, that my choices are reasonable, right and caring and that I will seek help if I am not sure of the best action to take.
I learned how important it is to articulate my own needs for help from my family.
We are all learning how to adjust to all the changes in our situations and that we can survive.