Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
— Leonard Cohen
IN THIS BLOG
Profile: Kathleen Banchoff
Book & Website Review: McFadden & McFadden, Aging Together …
Kathleen M. Banchoff is a writer living in Providence, Rhode Island. She is active as a family support volunteer for Home & Hospice Care – Rhode Island.
There were many blessings to be had in that company and time,
and finding the stories to tell about us returns me to the laughter and joy of it.
It seemed like the hardest thing I’ve ever done effortlessly,
and that is the grace I want to pass on.
This is the book I promised Skip I would write.
~ Kathleen M. Banchoff, 2006
Banchoff and I have enjoyed a fruitful collaboration concerning Communication, Aging and Caregiving. Inspired by family caregivers she encountered in our Victorian Order of Nursing workshops in Hamilton, she published a book of teaching stories from her own caregiving experiences in 2006 (Passing on the Blessing ) and edited the stories and poems of family caregivers responding to her call for submissions in 2009 (This Little Light ). Now, she continues to seek caregiving lessons by offering workshops she calls, Finding the Smile: Asking for Help Through Stories.
Together Banchoff and I have edited Gathering Inspiration: Reflections on the Spirituality of Caregiving — a book of poems, prayers, and quotations to support the spirits of family caregivers as they support the spirits of their loved ones. Click here to order this book: GatheringInspirationOrderForm.
We have also collaborated on 4 learning modules for Your Health Marketplace on the website of the Sheridan Elder Research Centre:
Learning about … Caregiving from Family Caregivers.
Learning about … Writing Your Life Story
Learning about … Spirituality and Health.
Learning about … Self-Advocacy.
Below you can sample family caregiver narratives from This Little Light of Mine. Each illness narrative shows the particular challenges and lessons learned through caring for family members or those who have become like family. People change, or fail to change, in ways that defy the boundaries set by the physical limitations of the caregiver and the medical realities of the cared-for. Emotions are often mixed, and surge as well as ebb. As in the experience of caregiving, these stories and poems reveal bewilderment, distress, and grief, but also tribute, joy and laughter.
Aging Together: Dementia, Friendship, and Flourishing Communities
Susan McFadden and John McFadden Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University, 2011
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Susan and John McFadden in Wisconsin last summer. I had known Susan for some years – we usually met for coffee during aging conferences. Susan’s work in the psychology of religion and aging and her friendship with colleague Anne Basting had brought her to consider issues of personhood in dementia, a topic close to my heart. [See November blog on Writing to Reclaim Identity in Dementia ].
What I learned during our visit was that John, a retired pastor, also has been drawn into reflecting upon the spirituality of dementia – for the person living with dementia and loved ones who care for this person.
Through both the book and website, Aging Together, the McFaddens offer a vision of relationships filled with love, joy, and hope in the face of a condition that all too often elicits anxiety, hopelessness, and despair. Taking a community perspective, they remind us that we are all living with dementia – in our families, our friends, and perhaps our futures. As well, one person’s forgetting is not so bad if those around the person continue to support, honor, include, and befriend. Moreover, they argue persuasively with Anne Basting [Forget Memory] that exaggerated stereotypes of dementia needlessly deny the hope and meanings that many individuals and families with dementia are finding, especially with help from others. “We must accomplish through living joyous friendship within flourishing communities what medical science cannot.”
They promote excellent examples of communities of care for persons living with dementia. On their website this summer, they have been writing about visiting Memory Cafés in the UK : A memory café is somewhere where people with dementia and their caregivers can visit to support each other and share information. The groups usually offer refreshments and reminiscence-based activities, sometimes artists visit. Health and social care professionals are also on hand to answer questions and offer advice in an informal setting. Volunteers are often from a local community organization, such as the Rotary Club. “Memory Cafes recognize that we are ALL living with the reality of dementia, and the most appropriate and essential response is to create hospitable spaces in our communities where friendship, love and laughter can be shared by all.”
WEB RESOURCES ON FAMILY CAREGIVING
There are four kinds of people in the world;
those who have been caregivers;
those who are currently caregivers;
those who will be caregivers;
and those who will need caregivers.
~ Rosalynn Carter
There will be times in your caregiving when
however tired you are, you’re ever so alive;
however separate you are, you’re ever so connected;
whatever brokenness you’ve experienced, you’ve never felt more whole.
~ James E. Miller
Until next time,