Caregiver Kit: En-couraging Self-care

by Deborah Grassman
OpusPeace.org

“Caregiver Burden” is a common term used in healthcare to describe the stress that accompanies taking care of someone. Caregivers may have become so consumed with caregiving that they lose their own life or sense of self. When this kind of difficulty occurs, we provide “caregiver kits” to acknowledge their struggle. The “care bag” was designed by Susan Schaeffer. It contains symbolic reminders: a rubber band “to remind you to be flexible because things might not go the way you want,” a pencil “to list your feelings,” a band-aid “to heal hurt feelings,” an eraser to “remind you that everyone makes mistakes and that’s okay,” gum “to chew sticky stuff when you feel you’re falling apart,” a tea bag “to help you relax daily and take time for yourself,” a bell “to remind you to let others know what you need,” and tissue because “it’s okay to cry.”

When caregivers receive these “gifts,” they often respond with tears. Frequently forgotten, consumed with demands, this ritualized gesture validates caregivers’ suffering and en-courages personal needs. However, some caution needs to be used: Be careful to not give them to caregivers who are reluctant to caregive because they are too self-absorbed.


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