Guidebook helps keep caregivers going |

Guidebook helps keep caregivers going

Provided to the Tribune

The newest prescription for the 50 million family caregivers in this country is a book that is small enough to tuck into a pocket or purse.

“Grace on the Go: Quick Prayers for Compassionate Caregivers” is a response to studies that show prayer is the No. 1 tool caregivers use in coping with stress.

Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of caregivers surveyed by the National Alliance for Caregiving list prayer as their No. 1 coping tool. A Stanford University study found that strong religious beliefs (incorporating prayer) was the primary force that sustained caregivers.

Since four out of every five chronically sick or disabled persons in this country depend on a family member for care (the economic value alone is $354 billion per year, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute), it is urgent that caregivers receive the coping tools they need.

Author Barbara Bartocci, who was a caregiver for both of her terminally ill parents, knows firsthand the power of prayer in that situation.

“So many emotions tug at caregivers,” she says.

There’s fear. There’s grief, which is different from the grief after someone dies. Caregivers often speak of “little griefs.” There are challenges that caregivers never anticipated.

In addition to prayerful words, “Grace on the Go for Caregivers” includes actions they can take:

— Focus on today’s “next thing” – When you discover yourself slipping into “if only” or “I can’t bear it” thoughts, force your mind to focus on today: What is the very next thing you need to do? Then do it.

— Build hope around the possible – What is something to hope for today that actually could happen? Your loved one has more appetite? You’re able to find time to take a walk?

— Accept the unknowable – So often, we simply don’t know why someone became ill or what purpose suffering has in our lives. Seeking answers to unanswerable questions only wastes time and energy. Rain falls on the just and the unjust: It’s not personal. What we can believe is that God will help us find within ourselves the strength, courage and wisdom to handle any situation.

Bartocci is the author of the award-winning “Nobody’s Child Anymore: Grieving, Caring and Comforting When Parents Die” (Sorin Books).

As well as the “Grace on the Go” series (Morehouse Publishing), she is a frequent contributor to Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day and Reader’s Digest magazines, as well as a public-relations consultant and a motivational speaker. She lives in Overland Park, Kan.

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