Posted in Caregiving

Everyone Needs a Major Advisor

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to over the years who try to navigate their role as a caregiver/wellness partner by themselves.  It’s incredible to think that the patient has you, the medical team, organizations that support research, and who do you have?  I’m currently in school working toward my PhD.  As of today I finished my classes,  made my dissertation proposal, and selected a dissertation advisor, not bad for a day’s work.

When I was selecting my dissertation advisor I needed someone who already had a doctorate.  What I needed was someone who would be as interested in my topic as I am since they’d be hearing a lot about the subject.  I found someone who is enthusiastic about my thesis, is connected to a whole host of potential resources, and is caring and compassionate.  What’s all this have to do with being a caregiver?

How many times have you wished you had someone who you could use as a  sounding board without fear of judgment?  What do you do when you’re grappling with difficult decisions and everyone around you has a vested interest in the outcome or is emotionally attached to the outcome?  Who do you have that will allow you to be vulnerable and will walk you through the best of times and the worst of times?

This is the role of the major advisor in the academic setting, but it’s important in the world of caregiving as well.  Having the capacity to connect with someone you know can and will hold the pain, can be objective when it comes to decisions, and has lots of resources; that’s the person you need by your side.  I’ve been working with caregivers for over twenty years and I can tell you that I believe many caregivers would lead healthier lives if they had a “major advisor”.  I believe the relationships with you and the person you’re caring for would be better if you had a “major advisor”.  I’m not talking about seeing a therapist because you’re not trying to heal from something.  Save that time and energy should the person you’re caring for die and you are experiencing the grief of the death (yes I know that grief comes with illness, but we’re talking about everyday life situations). 

One of the sanest things you can do is to find someone who can be your “major advisor”.  Make sure you connect with this person, you feel heard, and they’re actually available to speak with you in between appointments.  Know that taking care of yourself in this manner is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as well as the patient.