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The Dr. Beverly Kidder Interview
An Interview with Dr. Beverly Kidder
- Aging and Disability Center,
Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut
Two reasons. One, I got sick and
tired of hearing and reading about the
burden of caregiving, as though that is
the only model we have. And, I was
inspired one time a couple of years ago
to hear a man, whose wife had
Alzheimer’s disease, talk about the
wonderful gift that he had received from
her through the process of caring for
her. That just kind of stuck in my mind.
I was thinking about my personal
experience as a caregiver and
recognizing what an opportunity it was
for me as a human being to be a
caregiver for my mother and I remembered
what he said. I thought, I want to
balance this notion of burden with the
notion of gift.
Gary Barg: Can you explain what
an Area Agency on Aging does and why a
caregiver should reach out to their
Area Agencies on Aging are federally
mandated and federally funded to provide
services to a broad spectrum of older
adults and family caregivers. The
government recognized that without
family caregivers providing support,
billions of additional dollars would
have to be spent providing services to
people, whether that be in their home or
if they were transitioned to
institutions. It would be something that
could break the federal budget. And so
the notion emerged that these
individuals who provide care to family
members should have support in a way
that would enable them to stay in the
role, because it is a very popular role.
Gary Barg: We always appreciate
working with you when we host a New
Haven Fearless Caregiver Conference.
In fact, I think our tenth year is
Yes. Time went quickly. It is one of our
favorite things. We learned about your
activities when I happened to go to an
event in Philadelphia and see you do a
Fearless Caregiver Conference there
about 11 years ago. I saw how empowering
that was to the people in the audience.
I said, “Wow, this is something great we
should be doing in Connecticut!” We have
been very happy to bring it to the
people here and we have seen our numbers
grow like crazy.
A really nice section
in The Gift of Caregiving is about the
relationship between the paid caregiver
and the family caregiver, even down to
expenses. I just thought that made a lot
of sense to bring that up because I do
not hear anybody talking about that.
I would have to give credit to one my
college professors, Abraham Monk. He
talked about knowing the difference
between what we do for money and what we
do out of informal relationships. It
does not matter how nice the paid
caregiver is and how much they like you.
They still are there in a paid role that
has certain expectations. There are no
such contracts on family caregivers.
You do whatever your heart tells you and
your capacity enables you to do.
Although they have similar goals and
purposes to keep the individual healthy,
safe, and happy, their capacity to
deliver that role is different based on
the fact that one is financially based
and one is based on love, affection and
Gary Barg: So, as the author of
The Gift of Caregiving, what would be
the one most important piece of advice
you would like to leave family
The lesson that I learned for myself,
and I believe it is true for anyone who
opens themselves to it: this is not
only a sacrifice. This is an opportunity
that you are given later in life to
really become fully what you were
intended to be, to really come to
understand yourself, to grow, stretch
and do what you know inside, deep inside
yourself, is the right thing to do.
Through this experience, you get to grow
in compassion and in love. These are
wonderful gifts, whether you are 50, 60,
70, 80, or 90 years old, to still be
growing and developing as a human being.
I think it is a wonderful gift.
Listen to the full interview