Intentional vs unintentional caregiving (Part Two): What’s your winning formula?

I’m sure by now we are all sick of hearing the word “WINNING” from Charlie Sheen and all the madness surrounding his world.

But back in the real word and in regard to caregiving, is there a winning formula?

Today I offer you Part Two in a series of guest blog appearances that will continue through the Mondays in March. The subject again deals with Intentional vs Unintentional Caregiving and the costs and dynamics associated with both.

I am so honored to have this guest blog post from Holly Whiteside of Transforming Caregiving.

We need to let go of fixed ideas, behaviors, attachments…

Unfettered, your true self flows to the surface and moves you toward your purpose…”

~ Gabrielle Roth

(Part Two) What’s Your Winning Formula? – The Payoff of Intentional Self-awareness

Most of us think we know who we are. Our personalities, skills, attitudes, and values give us survival strategies for building a life that feels safe. Then caregiving hits. As we shift into full gear, how we respond is determined by our habitual tactics of the past.

But at some point familiar ways of operating can stop working. As Sydney Rice-Harrild tells us in her book Choice Points, “We all have an internal system for producing results that operates on its own, helping us to produce consistent results without our even having to think about it, but it doesn’t work in our favor when what we want is managed change.” Caregiving IS change.

Not to worry­—with a bit of intentional self-awareness you can prepare yourself. Start by making a list of your personal skills, traits, and strengths, sometimes called your “Winning Formula”. What’s Your winning formula? Notice how these tactics can serve you during caregiving. Yes, you came equipped.

But as you look at your list, also consider the caregiving situations in which these might not work as well. Do you take charge, telling others what to do? That may not always be appropriate. Do you isolate yourself to get your bearings? There might not always be time for that. Knowing your habitual tactics will allow you to adapt when they don’t work. Being mindfully aware will let you intentionally unattach from your habitual behaviors, allowing you to be flexible. On some level, there are no good or bad character traits—there is only what works in the moment. Be a learner. Caregiving will be easier and you will be more effective.

Now broaden your effectiveness still more by noting on your list the opposites of those tactics. Might not these be useful tools to add to your caregiving toolbox? Ever-changing circumstances can require new approaches, new ways of thinking and being. An outspoken person may need to learn tact. A reticent person may need to take charge. Tuning your awareness to who you are being throughout a caregiving day gives you more options for effectiveness. Know who you are, and you can choose who you need to be.

Intentional Caregiving opens the way to greater ease, smoother relationships, and an increase in personal power. You can gradually learn how to build your resilience and move with the prevailing winds of caregiving.

In the next article we’ll dig deeper into this practice of intentional focus, looking at “The Power of Intentional Connection“.

Check out “The Caregiver Hour” Radio Show

Throughout April, the topic of “The Caregiver Hour” weekly radio show* will be “The Intentional Caregiver”. Over a series of four shows, Holly will join host Kim Linder and her guests to empower and enlighten caregivers on approaching caregiving with mindful intentionality.

“The Caregiver Hour” airs every Monday at noon EST online at or on Tampa Bay radio WHNZ Station 1250 AM

About the Author:

Holly Whiteside, caregiver’s coach & advocate, is author of “The Caregiver’s Compass: How to Navigate with Balance and Effectiveness Using Mindful Caregiving” and “Exploring Hell and Other Warm Places: A Memoir of Redemptive Caregiving”. She invented Mindful Caregiving wellness tools by applying life coaching principles to herself during her caregiving decade. Holly is also an Eden Alternative Associate, Hospice Spiritual Care volunteer, and a Long-term Care Ombudsman. Connect with her and learn more about her work:

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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1 Response to Intentional vs unintentional caregiving (Part Two): What’s your winning formula?

  1. Enes says:

    Though my spouse does not have Alzheimer’s, he does reuriqe special accommodation when it comes to attending services. When we first came from Florida to Georgia, I called the temple ahead of time to first see if they could accommodate my husband’s wheelchair and had a bathroom that I could accommodate him in. They cleared off the ramp, installed a privacy curtain to the bathroom and always made sure that the deacons pushed him to give me a break. As we learned about my husband’s rare spinal conditions they then went further to arrange where he sits both in the winter and the summer to make sure he’s completely comfortable. They are also very patient with my constant popping up and down during the services to get him the things he needs (water, meds, etc.). I’d say the best tip would be is to be in constant communication with church/temple staff they just might come up with a solution that you hadn’t thought of and they’ld probably appreciate a chance to help out.When all of the above mentioned items occur, I am giving the opportunity to feel equal and not different and that makes attending services for me relaxing.


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