“We can, all of us stand up for care. We can change how we think, how we talk, how we plan and work and vote. We can come together as women and men. We can finish the business that our mothers and grandmothers began and begin a new revolution of our own.” Anne-Marie Slaughter, author, Unfinished Business
As a young mom, I advocated for my children’s care. As a wife, I advocated for my husband’s care. As a daughter, at the end of my mother’s life, I advocated for her care. We all need advocates and people in our lives to advocate for us. We need each other!
I have been thinking about the sacred and honorable act of caring for a long time. My daughter Carol and I have talked about this for years. My work is in elder care and elder empowerment, and hers is early childhood.
We both feel passionately that caring for others is the most honorable, rewarding and challenging work imaginable. We recognize the vulnerability of humans at each pole of life – early childhood and elderhood. We value the care required to enter and exit this life. We celebrate the wholeness, dignity and competence of the vulnerable. We talk about burn-out and together we have been seeking to understand self-care and how to glean the joy and nourishment that we believe caring can yield to ourselves, to our profession and to our society.
We dream about how different the world will be as we facilitate a shift in society’s thinking regarding the way our culture views caring for human beings at the beginning of life and the end of life.
Here are the commonalities we discuss:
- In both fields, the important caring types who do the direct work are often under appreciated.
- Relationships are the key to doing this human work well. We look for people who can make connections and form real relationships.
- In both elder care and child care, the caregivers must also be responsive and supportive of the whole family – realizing the individual is part of a family system.
- The very nature of caring rituals: washing others, holding others, feeding others and dressing others – is intimate work and requires being present with goodness, dignity, respect, intelligence and kindness.
- At the beginning of life and the end of life – humans are dependent upon others to care for them. Caring for others comes with a great responsibility and a commitment towards service to others.
Creating a culture of caring is important in our families, in our work, in our cities, our towns, in our country, and in the world. It starts with us advocating for one another. Speak up!
The video above is courtesy of Speak Up! This information is used for public service announcements, websites, community newsletters, health fairs, closed circuit patient education television, and staff education. The popular animated videos have been downloaded by organizations in more than 70 countries.
About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for profit health care organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada. She spends her leisure time with her husband Art, her dog Max, her cat Molly, and a 50-year-old desert tortoise named Myrtle. Jean is pictured here with her daughter Carol.