“Today, we want to give you a little respite and acknowledge your dedication towards your loved ones” says Leigh Stephens, psychosocial counsellor at the Society, setting the tone for the third edition of Caregiver Recognition Day as part of Caregivers Week. On Sunday, November 6th, approximately 30 caregivers gathered at Andrea Restaurant to take a moment to exchange, catch their breath and learn more about their role as caregivers.
A day to exchange
At the beginning of the day, the excitement was starting to build as caregivers arrived: discussions were buzzing around the room while many participants, who are now friends, confided in each other and shared the latest news about both their professional and personal lives. Others talked about their loved one’s health situation and exchanged tips and tricks to overcome some problems due to the evolution of ALS. “This day allows us to share tools and to see that we’re not alone going through this difficult time” confided Linda Boucher, who’s been caring for her husband Clarence for over a year now.
Motivation: a cornerstone to maintaining your own health as a caregiver
Guest speakers Élaine Clavet and Maria José Gallo provided precious advice to caregivers by addressing motivation in an interactive discussion. «Caregiving is like boarding a ship without knowing the destination or the duration of the trip” says Élaine Clavet. “Even though we don’t know where we’re going, what direction would we like to go in?”. According to the two psychotherapists, it is the motives that are hidden behind the caregiver’s decision to help that constitute the basis of their desire to act as caregivers even though they find themselves in a powerless situation facing the disease.
Whether it’s out of love or because of financial needs, asking oneself about their motivation to help a loved one is an important step in empowering a caregiver in his or her situation. Although these motivators can differ from one person to another, no motivator is better than another: they must first and foremost be voluntarily chosen and respond to the caregiver’s needs. Maria José Gallo thinks the greatest challenge of a caregiver is to stay balanced. «By reevaluating the motivators behind your motivation, you’ll be more able to keep your balance, establish your limits as a caregiver and most of all get your energy back”.
Finally, the two guest speakers strongly encouraged caregivers to listen to their own needs in order to protect their health. By responding to these needs, caregivers can follow the boat’s path while maintaining their physical and mental wellbeing. «We’re convinced that you each make a huge difference in your loved ones lives and we thank you for that» said Élaine Clavet, therefore concluding this year’s Caregiver Recognition Day.
Your rights as a caregiver
- You are valuable
- You have a right to your wellbeing even if the situation is difficult,
- You have a right to maintain your physical and mental health,
- You have a right to set limits even if doing so is difficult on your loved one,
- You do not have your loved one’s illness, even if it has a significant impact on your life,
- You have a right to be happy, even if your loved one is suffering,
- Experiencing moments of respite or fun does not mean that you are betraying your loved one.
Would you like to read Élaine Clavet and Maria José Gallo’s entire presentation on motivation? Click here to access their complete presentation.