“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”
There are a lot of resources available for family caregivers. I have shelves full of thoughtful advice and deeply personal accounts of other caregivers. Many people I know and love send me blogs and articles, sharing digitally and physically which only underscores the truth that there are a lot of resources for family caregivers.
I’ve never disputed that. In fact, one of the core values for my company, Caregiven, is to NOT add more to the volumes of resources. I have never maintained that there is an absence or lack of information. What I do believe is that what is available to us is no longer available in the way we need to receive information when we are caregivers.
It’s not in reading books. It’s not in participating in training or education courses. At least, for those of us who wake-up one-day and are immediately in the throes of being a caregiver.
For me, I had a full-time job living my own life which included a full-time job and being a parent to two full-time kids. So, when I added another full-time responsibility – which mentally, emotionally and at times physically caring for a loved-one is – my schedule didn’t free up for me to attend a lecture or read a book.
I didn’t have time to learn to fish. All I wanted was whatever fish fit the problem that we were facing in that moment. Some moments I needed a tuna, other moments an anchovy. Either way, it wasn’t an overview of the principles of fishing and the nuances of which bait lures which fish. All I needed was a fish.
Where I live there have been some ads running, offering “free” classes for caregivers. By “free”, I mean that a state initiative is using tax dollars to fund the marketing efforts, recruitment of speakers, logistical costs of hosting an event, as well as, I’m sure, the photocopying of helpful articles and lists of useful books. All of which adds up.
I do not doubt the value of these lessons. The community and collegiality of a shared experience provides relief. But is it available the next time a caregiving situation arises and the caregiver knows they need to fish, but this time it’s for something different and they don’t have a look, a line, or even a fishing license.
Please don’t misunderstood– I applaud the state for elevating the importance of this topic and allocating resources to help those of us in need.
But I’d like to encourage us to move beyond the approach of educating us on how to solve our problems and actually give us the tools to solve them.
In my unasked-for opinion, you don’t teach a drowning person to swim and a starving person to fish.
You save them.