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Living the Praxis for Care 

Using a Focal Point to Guide Your Caregiving Journey: Lessons from Swimming

A few days ago I was swimming backstroke and I had an epiphany. Backstroke is a stroke that I tend to swim crooked, so I try not to have anyone in the lane with me while I'm performing that stroke.

I finally realized why I have such a hard time swimming straight when I'm doing backstroke. I don't see well, so my eyes tend to wander and that makes my head roll. When my head rolls, I go off course.

I found a line in the ceiling that I could see clearly and follow and that helped a lot. I still drifted a little bit, but my stroke was much better.

Caring for a loved one is a lot like that.

Having a focal point to help us maintain our direction, especially when life is throwing unexpected things at us, is really important.

Life can throw a lot at us, so it's important that our focal points are flexible enough to adapt and evolve as our needs change along our care journeys. When I look back at where mom and I started, I had no idea that we would wind up where we are.

In the beginning, I was focused on performing tasks and taking actions that she could no longer do for herself. But our detour through breast cancer helped me understand that I needed to make decisions and take actions the way she would if she could.

I was still focused on meeting her care needs, but my perspective was changing. As our journey continued, my focus changed again. I evolved from making decisions and taking actions the way she would if she could, to making decisions and taking actions that were satisfying to both of us.

My keeping her safe means has evolved and the way that I keep her safe has also evolved.

My encouragement to you this week is to be flexible as you go through your journey of meeting the care needs of your loved one and yourself.


Dr. Sheri L. Yarbrough is an author, caregiver, and founder of Praxis Senior Care-Giving Solutions, a consulting business that provides care-givers with practical and easily implemented strategies that can be tailored to meet their individual care needs.

View Dr. Yarbrough's weekly blog on all things caregiving from a caregiver's perspective.

Listen to Dr. Yarbrough's Podcast: Straight Talk for Giving-Care.


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