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 Caregiver Jujitsu

Caregiver Jujitsu - / kair-giv-er ju•jit•su / –a method developed to help caregivers take advantage of important resources by turning their negative responses into positive action. 

My friend Sue and I were talking yesterday of many things: Of shoes--and ships—and sealing wax--Of cabbages--and kings (okay maybe I take just a little literary license). Soon the conversation came around to one of my favorite subjects, Support Groups. Sue was talking of the efforts she made to prompt her brother-in-law, Howard, to go to a local MS spousal support group. Sue’s sister had been diagnosed twenty years ago and her condition had worsened steadily over the past five years. Sue recounted how difficult it was to get Howard to take her suggestion of joining a support group seriously, since he was (in his words) “not interested in sitting around with a bunch of people whining about their painful situations, I’ve got my own, thanks.” As long as the focus of conversation was on how important a support group would be to his own health and well-being, he would have none of it. Sue, being thoughtful as well as clever, told him about how when she was in a support group for Alzheimer’s caregivers a few years ago, she heard advice that the doctors could never have offered. People in the group talked about who were the best practitioners in the area, where free services were offered in the community, tips for what to do when her mom wouldn’t eat. She also told him about Today’s Caregiver magazine’s Dana Reeve cover interview , in which Dana told us that some of the best advice she heard as a caregiver came from her own support group., in which Dana told us that some of the best advice she heard as a caregiver came from her own support group.

Sue refrained from talking about how beneficial it would be to Howard’s own well-being to join a support group, but emphasized the important things he could learn in a group which would help him become an even better caregiver to his wife. Bingo, he joined the next week. Now, he talks to Sue constantly about his little support group family and how it has saved his life. Hmm, go figure. Caregiver Jujitsu strikes again.

Gary Barg

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