On Wed., Nov. 15th, the Crater Caregiver Coalition took place to honor national caregiver month by holding their annual caregiver recognition in the Dunlop house.
This ceremony is dedicated to honor those who go above and beyond in giving the best quality care to their family members or close friends.
“The purpose of this ceremony is to honor caregivers in our area who give up their hearts an soul to help others so we wan to make sure we honor them otherwise they don’t really get a lot of recognition,” President of the Crater Caregiver Coalition, Joe Gallagher said.
The caregivers that have been nominated for this ceremony were nominated by someone in their community, a close friend or even family members.
“[to get nominees] We advertise through our nonimation form and through different organizations…[and try to] get it in the newspaper,” Gallagher said.
One of the caregivers that have been nominated was Theresa Jackson.
“I was nominated by a coworker. She sent a letter in and they called and told her that I have been nominated,” Jackson said.
Jackson has been a caregiver for her mother, Lydia Mathews, for three years. Jackson feels that it is better for her to take care of her own mother instead of anther care giver becuase she has a natural connection and bond to her own mother.
“The importance is that it’s my mother, I can take care of her better than anybody I know,” Jackson said “I know what she doesn’t like and I think it’s important that we should take care of our parents when we get older or when they get to a point where they are elderly. We need to take care of them like they took care of us when we were younger.”
People like Jackson are one of the reasons why the Crater Caregiver Coalition feel the need to honor these caregivers.
“Anybody who does it for nonprofit is doing it from the heart you know that they really care,” Meredith Zimberg from Right At Home health care company said. “You are gonna find that with people that do get paid as well but there is a lot of people that go into healthcare that especially thinking that its all about the money and then you end up with bad caregivers. Those that are just doing it because they want to do it they love to do it, you’re going to get the best top notch caregivers.”
During the ceremony, there were special guests, Dave Gau and Christine Walters that work as a team at the Comedy Sports Zone, the first improve theater in Richmond.
“I have been a caregiver to my mother,” Gau said. “She was in need of care for about five or so years.
Gau uses his background in comedy and imporv to teach the other caregivers about how to improve yourself as a caregiver.
“It was more of the basis of improv, we used improv type of comedy and what I would use way that you can connect with people when you’re doing that,” Gau said. “So the basis of improv, the most common phrase is ‘yes and,’ and that’s when you say ‘yes’ to whatever the person offers you and ‘and’ to build on that offer and so when you’re dealing with a person thats living with dementia, they may see the world differently then you do and I feel like it as a really good way to communicate to them when I said ‘yes’ to their vision of the world and my ‘and’ was how can I build on to what they just told me.”
Gau and Walters share the importance of using a sense of humor to help with their everyday experiences while taking care of their loved ones by playing partner games and sharing personal experiences.Their performance at the ceremony has taught all the caregivers new ways to connect and engage with the people they are caring for.
Along with the ‘yes, and…’ exercise, Gau and Walters also shared a game called ‘What’s not wrong with your life’ were two people simply list as many things as they can that is not wrong in their lives.
“I always try to stay positive but that whole ‘yes, and…’ I think that was the greatest thing for me,” nominee Jessica Burdett said. “I tend to be a ‘yes, but well do it in a little bit’ or ‘yes, but its gonna have to be tomorrow’. Living more in the moment I think that was the greatest thing for me. My husband focuses a lot on the negativity so the ‘whats not wrong with your life’ was a nice exercise that I liked.
Burdett is a caregiver to her husband and has been for 3 years. Her husband has suffered an ingury and cannot get by himself so his wife Burdett takes care of him.
One piece of advice Burdett has to offer is to make sure you have time for yourself as well as caring for everyone in the household.
“I just have to remember that I signed up for this for the long run even if it is your spouse or if its not your spouse just remember that you love this person and their happiness is dependent upon you and just you really just find things that they still enjoy that you can do with them,” nominee Jessica Burdett said.