The payoffs of intentional caregiving (Part Three)

This is Part Three in a series of guest blog appearances that will continue through the Mondays in March. The subject is 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.

The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other’s welcome — Derek Walcott from “Love After Love”

Part 3 — The Payoff of Intentional Connection

Connection is our life’s blood—our connection to others, and our connection to ourselves. Some would add our connection to a Higher Power. Yet the intensity of caregiving can weaken the connective tissue of our lives. Relationships strain. Personal time dwindles. It takes intentionality to notice what we are sacrificing.

The international person-centered care movement (“Real Care Reform”) in long-term care facilities is finding that putting human connection first in caregiving actually improves the well-being and health of both the cared-for and the caregiver. In the Eden Alternative Green House nursing homes, intentional connection combats the three plagues of loneliness, helplessness and boredom. Some residents who have taken to walkers, or stopped speaking, begin walking on their own and speaking again.

(See YouTube “The Green House Nursing Home Alternative”, and Eden founder Dr. Bill’s blog at

If tending to connection with a loved one can improve the health of your loved one, what could more self-connection mean for your own well-being? Self-connection is found in the places, moments and experiences that fuel your spirit and balance your life.

If your own well-being were a priority for you, what would you do differently? Might you ask for help more often? If you are a can-do person, asking for help can empower you as it strengthens your connection to others. You become less alone, more flexible, your approach to life softens.

If you intentionally noticed the people, experiences and thoughts that drain your energy and then eliminated them, how much better would you feel? Eliminating energy sinks is a key way to re-balance your life so that it fuels you, day to day.

Intentionally connect with your loved one in ways that have been meaningful to her/him, and in your private moments, do less of what drains you and more of what renews your spirit. Think empowering thoughts to leverage your well-being. Caregiving will be a kinder, gentler experience, a healthier time for everyone.

In the next article we’ll look at The Payoff in Intentional Acceptance of your circumstances, your loved one, and yourself.

Check out “The Caregiver Hour” Radio Show

Throughout April, the topic of “The Caregiver Hour” weekly radio show will be “The Intentional Caregiver”. In four shows, Holly will join host Kim Linder and her guests to empower caregivers to approach 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” a handbook of tools fostering balance, and “Exploring Hell and Other Warm Places”, a memoir. Holly is also an Eden Alternative Associate, Hospice Spiritual Care volunteer, and a Long-term Care Ombudsman. 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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