Lessons Caregivers Can Learn
From Private Industry

By Sheryl Leary

Caregivers experience many feelings including self-doubt, questioning their own abilities and whether or not they are “doing the right thing.” Sometimes caregivers question themselves right down to the core and ask “Why am I doing this?”  This is when all caregivers can use some of the lessons from private industry and those successful in business and sales.

Many in corporate training programs are taught to surround themselves with those who are successful.  The understanding is that this will help them to also become successful. The same philosophy can be used to achieve a successful caregiving experience. Caregivers can do this by attending support and educational groups. This is a forum for gaining insight from others who are caring and sharing ideas and information. This can also be accomplished by reaching out to professional organizations that can provide assistance in the form of information, services or training. Caregivers can start at the local Area Agency on Aging (www.n4a.org). This may house a regional Family Caregiver Support Program or direct you to appropriate local service providers. Caregivers can also learn about their state Office on Disability through the Department of Health and Human Services (www.hhs.gov/od). Surrounding yourself with professionals and other caregivers will offer you the keys for success.

Those successful in sales learn early on that confidence is part of their success. How do caregivers gain this confidence in themselves? The first step in gaining confidence is educating yourself about what you are doing. If you are selling an auto part, you need to know how it fits into the engine and how it improves the car performance. If you are providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease, you need to know how the disease is diagnosed and treated. There are many ways to educate yourself. The first step can be to find which national organizations or foundations exist concerning your loved ones’ issue. These resources have up-to-date and correct information about various illnesses as well as links to local programs. The Alzheimer’s Association, Easter Seals Society, American Heart Association, National Multiple Sclerosis Society are a few well-known national associations, but many more exist. There are also multiple resources online, although caution is recommended as caregivers need to be wary of who is sponsoring a website and posting the information. Another place to start is at a teaching or research hospital. Talk to your doctor about whether getting care at such an institution will give you more access to current information and newer treatments.

The second step in gaining confidence in one’s abilities is to simply fake it. If you fake confidence long enough, it eventually starts to rub off on you. This can be referred to as the “fake it until you make it” strategy that many in the sales industry will use. How do you fake confidence? You simply tell yourself over and over that you are doing the right thing. You look at yourself in the mirror and you say out loud “You know what you are doing here and you are doing a good job.” There are many other mantras you can adapt to your personal situation, such as “I am the best at what I do,” “I am a great caregiver” and anything else that is a positive message reminding you of your abilities. Some may need to go so far as to write these sayings out and post them in their home. It may not be your idea of beautiful décor, but if you ask those in sales who use this positive affirmation system – it works. There are many in the direct sales industry who have found success after “wallpapering” their home with positive confidence building statements. Eventually, you are no longer faking it, and it becomes reality.

The same system of using positive affirmations helps when caregivers start to question their core value of why they are doing these tasks day in and day out. Reminding yourself why you are providing care may need to become a part of your caregiving routine. I recommend making a sign that says, “I love my husband/wife/mother/father” and posting it where you need to see it most. Do you need a reminder in the bathroom where you find it exhausting when assisting with toileting or bathing? It may need to be next to your bed so you see it at the end of the day and at the start of the next day. Start each day telling yourself out loud why you are caring. In private industry, those in sales are told to keep a goal picture close by at all times. For someone in sales, this may be a car or vacation home they hope to purchase with their earnings. For a caregiver, this may be a smiling picture of their loved one or a picture of their family during earlier times. Daily reminders that love, kindness and caring are the why will do wonders for keeping that love alive and present in your life.

All these lessons from private industry can be adopted into our daily lives as husbands/wives/mothers/fathers/daughters/sons. Success in business is not analogous to success in family but we can use the same strategies to get there.


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