I am a certified nursing assistant and healthcare blogger, age 63, living in Massachusetts with my trombone-playing husband and a winsome tuxedo cat named Ginsberg. I work as a companion for older adults in their homes.
Secrets of My Happiness is my new video series for readers of my blog, JoyousParadox.com. I write about health, healing and caregiving for elders, their family members, and their paid and volunteer care partners. I address the social and emotional realities of hands-on caregiving, as well as practical tips for managing daily life with and for another person. The videos focus on improvisational singing and other creative stress-management techniques.
I've been thinking about the arduous, intimate work of bedside caregiving since I began caring for elderly clients in 2006. When I took the standard course for nurses' aides that summer, I was between jobs. The peak of my nonprofit career, a three-year stint as executive director of the NH Women's Lobby, was fading into the past. I'd trained as a hospice volunteer and wanted to do more.
Now I work for a home care agency in Concord, MA, providing non-medical personal care and homemaking for elders. My colleagues and I emphasize wellness, supporting our clients in activities that bring them joy and satisfaction. We use 21st-century technologies, notably smartphones and a secure, web-based reporting system, for record-keeping and to maintain communication with client families.
One of the techniques I use for managing my stress as a caregiver is improvisational singing. I sing in my car on the way to and from my clients' homes -- silly songs that make me laugh, self-reflective songs that soothe my soul. I also sing for some of my clients. I belong to a pastoral choir at my Unitarian-Universalist church; three or four of us go to sing at the bedside of people who request it. When I lived in New Hampshire, I was a member of the Songweavers, a women's chorus at the Concord Community Music School.
- Joyous Paradox - A Blog for Health, Healing, and Caregiving for Elders and Their Families