Personal Positioning for the Caregiver

Ask the Experts by Jill L. Gafner

Q: My parents are aging quickly and I'm finding myself overwhelmed with decisions and difficult tasks on top of my already stretched schedule. I'm feeling sad, mad, guilty, jealous, depressed, and angry all at the same time! What can I do to manage these emotions?

A. Hopefully the following suggestions that I am able to offer will help you manage your emotions during this challenging time of your life.

Recognize yourself

We "caregivers" tend to overlook ourselves. We shrug off our own doctor appointments, hair appointments, exercise routines, etc. because we no longer value our lives by who we are, but rather "how" our patients are doing. Example: Mary, how are you? Answer: Well to be honest Jack is having a good week, so I'm ok. Our first step in repairing our myriad of emotions is to recognize that our emotions matter and play a significant role in our own health. 

Create your program

The key to survival is to create a healthy routine/schedule and stick to it. Since no two days are alike while caring for someone we need a sense of structure if only 15 minutes a day. Create a guide, WRITE IT DOWN, and follow it daily. Keep your program simple but include MIND, BODY and SOUL. We need to behave our way into a better mind set.

Keep socially active

Little by little caregivers often become isolated and withdraw from their social circle. Friends may stop sending invitations too but it isn't because they don't care. In fact, they care so much that they don't want to bother you. They know you have a full plate - and they assume that when you are free you will be in touch with them. So be in touch with them! We need to remember, we are not the patient; we are healthy people and need to act as such. Call your social circle!

Let Go and Let God

Some things are beyond our control. We don't have the power to heal. We have the power to comfort, to accept, to manage, to maintain, but the healing part is not always humanly possible. Since it is our job to take care of another human being, it comes with the desire to make things ALL better, it's frustrating. Understand you must let go and let God. Accept that we can only do what is humanly possible; the humanly impossible tasks must remain with a power bigger than us. Have faith.

Jill LaFaive Gafner, BSBM, CDP, CADDCT, is Director of Training & Development at MMG in Southfield, Michigan. She is proficient in Alzheimer's and dementia care, process control, behavior modification and sales performance criteria. Jill's performance coaching techniques includes over 1200 international training hours in China, Korea, India, Mexico, Austria and Canada. Jill continues to coach over 1500 people per year on multiple processes and procedures. Jill is certified in Transactional Greenbelt, Value Stream Mapping, Dale Carnegie and is a Certified Dementia Practitioner and Certified Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia Care Trainer through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners. In 2006, Jill authored "Personal Positioning" a motivational guide for caregivers on staying mentally healthy while caring for their patients. Jill's successful message has been promoted on a national level. Gafner has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by phone 586-419-6073.

Note: Jill Gafner will be one of the featured professionals, sharing her expertise, at the Taking Care While Giving Care presentation evening offered by The Family Center on February 12, 2015, see details below.


Taking Care While Giving Care

February 12, 2015
Time: 5:30-9:30pm
Location: Assumption Cultural Center (21800 Marter Rd., St. Clair Shores)

The evening will feature four 30-minute TALKS from 6-8pm; visit resource stations from 5-6pm and 8-9pm. No Fee, light food and refreshments served. 

Presented by the Family Center in partnership with the Senior Expo, Assumption Cultural Center and Marchiori Catering. Event Sponsored by ShorePointe Village. 


Cluttered Lives, Empty Souls, Understanding and Treating Hoarding Disease, featuring Joanne Cruz, MSW, LMSW, ACT, Detroit Hoarding Task Force

Downsizing: When, Where and Why? featuring Dr. Cathy Lysack, PhD, OTR, Wayne State University, Institute of Gerontology

Caring for the Caregiver  featuring Sean Hogan-Downey, LMSW, LMFT - Licensed Master Social Worker and Licensed Marriage and Family therapist

Personal Positioning for the Caregiver: Ways to Stay Mentally Healthy while Caring for your Patient featuring Jill Gafner, Author - Sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care - East Suburbs of Detroit, Grosse Pointe

RSVP online or call The Family Center 313-432-3832. 

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