Today’s guest post is from Violet Swenson, the Online Content Director of LTC Global Agency, a leading distributor of individual Long Term Care insurance products.
November is National Caregivers Month. As a way to give back to these unsung heroes, we’d like to take the opportunity to help caregivers out by discussing a simple – yet profound – topic: kindness.
We’ve often heard and read horror stories of caregivers down in the dumps. And parallel with these stories, come all sorts of advice posts and self-care help lists. Yet, do any of these self-care articles matter and make a significant difference in providing actual help for caregivers?
Case in point, Kim Shea brought up a very good argument in her Caregivers Need More Than Advice on Self-Care post. More than reminding caregivers that they should also take care of themselves, physical assistance, possible support from professional institutions, and government intervention should be promoted to provide some much-needed help for caregivers with the blues.
What we would want to add into the mix is a simple reminder: kindness. A cliché (perhaps), but practicing this act may allow caregivers to see their circumstances in a brighter and more positive light.
Kindness Will Matter
The key to a lasting relationship is patience and understanding. It may sound obvious, but a book entitled The Science of Happily Ever After published earlier this year revealed that only three in ten married couples are in a happy and fruitful relationship with each other. Now, connect this fact with a spouse most likely to be the primary caregiver to his or her partner. Without kindness, a spousal caregiver will not be able to wake up each morning to face the challenges of looking after his or her loved one.
The Atlantic recently featured the said book’s findings in an article, highlighting that couples who promote kindness in their relationship are more likely to acknowledge conflicts in a more patient and reasonable manner. In a physiological perspective, these couples “had created a climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally and thus physically comfortable.”
A strong connection between partners will matter. Especially when life brings in dire circumstances, which and when a partner would need care and assistance. Kindness magnifies the small details (reminiscing sweet moments with each other, the simple hugs and kisses after a long day, or even holding hands while walking), lessening the burden and taking away the focus on the often frustrating episodes of administering care. After all, caregiving is a labor of love – why be frustrated when you are doing something that your partner may do for you as well, if the tables were turned?
Of course, it isn’t easy; sustaining a happy married life and being a spousal caregiver require a lot of work. But having a relationship strengthened with kindness is beneficial for both the caregiver and his or her care recipient. Take it from all the caregiver horror stories floating around the web. Regardless of how painful their experiences are, the best caregivers stick to being with their loved ones, simply because it is the kind, proper, and most natural action to do.
Kindness Beyond Family
Now, how can a kind mindset make an impact for other family or professional caregivers? Potentially powerful, as shown in a recent The Guardian article on social care initiatives. A UK firm, Partners for Change, has proposed a new way on how caregivers should initially administer care with a “three-conversations” model. The approach builds up on the idea of seeking the right information from care recipients for caregivers and nursing homes to provide the best optimized and practical long term care solutions possible.
Basically, in order for this approach to be effective, caregiver and care recipient relationships need to be bolstered through three given conversations (initial contact, when people are at risk, and when long term care support is needed). And this is where kindness comes in – effective conversations will never begin without a kind mindset initiating an engagement between the participating parties.
Long Term Care Insurance and Other Tools to Inspire Kindness
As mentioned in the first point, caregiving will never be easy. But proper planning and tools can help inspire kindness. Long term care (LTC) insurance is an option for caregivers to consider. According to Genworth’s 2016 Beyond Dollars Study, caregivers have been reported to have fewer incidents of stress with recipients covered by LTC insurance. Additionally, LTC insurance also provides financial flexibility – caregivers have been reported to approximately spend $8,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.
Medicare may also help augment potential stress from spending on medication. Particularly for a Medicare Supplement Plan F, which provides coverage for certain prescription drugs designated in a given plan. Of course, this depends on the situation and the care recipient’s needs. Medicare does not cover custodial care, LTC insurance does.
Additionally, local community support should be checked. Being a caregiver doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to shoulder the burden alone. In order for self-care to happen, a caregiver must proactively seek and use to his or her advantage any available resource nearby.
The bottom line is support for caregivers can help lighten the load. And with kindness included in the mix, caregivers can have a more optimistic view of life. Isn’t that a worthwhile perspective to have while caring for your loved one?
How About You?
What do you think of kindness as an important trait that every caregiver should have? Do you have other suggestions or thoughts about the topic? You may more ideas on how to celebrate National Caregivers Month. Please share it with us below!
About The Author
Violet Swenson is the Online Content Director LTC Global Agency. She has thrived in the insurance and retirement field for several years. Her career revolved around helping people plan and create tailor-fitted long term care plans for their golden years. She strongly believes that long term care insurance should be part of every person’s financial plan for the years ahead – part of her personal advocacy is to inform people about what the long term care industry really covers, and to debunk myths surrounding it. Likewise, she puts what she has learned in her insurance career through insightful articles relating to long term care, retirement and finance.