Recently, I added a page on Emotional Health Resources, which, according to the research I've seen, is an extremely important topic for caregivers, who face higher percentages of depression and anxiety than non-caregivers. I've seen many 'guesses' and discussions as to why this is, and certainly everyone has their own story and their own experience to guide them.
I began thinking, what if there are coping skills out there that could help people through this? What if there were proven, evidence-based ways of handling the chronic stress that parent-caregivers often face? I found some wonderful places to start, including the psychology of 'mindfulness,' of resilience, and creating a life filled with meaning, and put references to the research and the techniques on this new "Emotional Health Resources" page.
I also discovered something about myself and my work with The Complete Caregiver. Providing this site and my book "The Complete Caregiver Journal Workbook," has given me the opportunity to have a more meaningful life; I feel like I'm providing useful resources and assistance to those who come looking for them. There are days I wonder if anyone out there has really benefited from my work, and I wrestle with taking the next step forward, writing that new article, doing more research, talking to one more person about my book and how it might be of service to other parent-caregivers. On those days of doubt, invariably I will receive confirmation that all I have done and continue to do IS meaningful to others, IS valued and needed and appreciated. Like when I heard about the head pediatric nurse at a major caregiving company copying my free downloads and handing them out to all the families of special needs kids that she works with, or when a fellow parent-caregiver or case manager tells me how they have spread the news about my site, or when a psychiatrist with the National Board of Certified Counselors - International (NBCC-I) took my book to present in Bhutan during their First Annual Counseling Conference to provide practical information on how to support parents of special needs children, etc.
And so, in addition to my children and family, I continue to dedicate myself to this personal "mission," which is to 1) help as many parent-caregivers and their families as I possibly can, and 2) do whatever I can to shift the statistics for family caregivers, so that we can live happy and meaningful lives, while facing the challenges and rewards of being caregivers.
There is a crisis happening, with too many people stretched way too thin while caring for at least one family member who has a high level of need, far beyond the norm. There are 16 million parent-caregivers of special needs and/or medically fragile kids as of 2006, and the numbers continue to rise, especially as autism rates continue to climb (now 1 in 110 children under 18 overall, and 1 in 70 boys under 18). There can be strength in numbers, hope even, as we begin to take on one more challenge; the challenge of our own happiness. I sincerely hope that you will find the tools, inspiration and encouragement here at TCC to help you meet at least some of your challenges as a parent-caregiver, and especially the ones that contribute to your well being.
And thank you, for contributing to my happiness by stopping by here and hopefully taking away something you need for your own.
- Lynn Morgan Rosser
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