What is unique about Team Positive: How to Build Support for Someone Dealing with Chronic Illness, is the focus on what caregivers should do.
While this seems like something that should be in any such book directed at dealing with a chronic illness, in researching for this book, I found that other works with a focus on illness are often lacking in addressing such an approach. Many do not have anything in them at all about how best to be of support and even less speak specifically to those in the role of a caregiver with how to take care of themselves.
Here are three considerations for any caregiver should you find yourself in such a role:
- Caregivers, particularly parents often do not set aside any time for themselves. It is understandable that a parent would feel compelled to do everything within their power to try to alleviate the situation in any way possible. However, if those parents do not take the time to keep their own energy levels up, especially if the illness stretches on for a long duration, they will become less effective. In other words, if you do not take care of yourself, how can you be expected to take care of another?
- Relationships become unbalanced due to a significant portion of time and energy going into caregiving. Similar to the first issue of neglecting themselves, it is also not uncommon that a disproportionate amount of time is focused on the one dealing with the chronic illness at the expense of friends and family. This results in others around the caregiver being left out and not given the amount of interaction needed in order to feel connected. (nor does the caregiver) This is especially true for the siblings of the one being cared for.
- The caregiver tries to do it all alone because they do not know how to ask for help, feel they would be a burden, or believe that what they are doing is the right and only way to approach such a challenge.
It all boils down to balance, knowing what you can ask for, and knowing your place within the structure of support. Several of the chapters within Team Positive address these three issues. There are complete outlines and details in understanding what a structure should look like and how to get everyone on board. While this might take a little extra effort at first, having everyone know their place goes a long way to decreasing stress and anxiety.
The first section of the book looks at experiences that get in the way of getting involved, asking for help, and knowing what to do. It takes a deeper look at how best to ask for and offer assistance in dealing with the challenging situation. It gives an overview of how many of the thoughts and feelings are normal and how to proceed in the face of them.
Finally, there is an overview of how to regain a sense of balance by looking at four major domains in life which, under normal circumstance, can become unbalanced, and during a challenging situation like dealing with a chronic illness, will most certainly become unbalanced. Especially important is the concept for assessing which domains you are focusing the greatest amount energy (your relationships, your work, what you do for fun and energy, and your own physical health) and offers ways to balance the equation should it be unequal.
If you can put these measures in place, it not only helps to increase the effectiveness and strength of the caregiving you give, but it also helps to strengthen your own resolve and the things that are most important in the long run, the connections of everyone involved in the undertaking.