Twenty-First Century Care

My Confession

I think we all have had times in our lives where we failed to see the forest for the trees. I believe this is one of the moments for me. Here goes…. How many times have I presented the ‘average’ caregivers as the 49-year-old daughter whose children are grown so close to leaving the nest? I’m guilty on all counts. Here’s what I’ve gotten wrong.

Who Needs Care?

I often refer to people needing care as vulnerable people. Who falls into this category? All of us. People who need care include family, friends, neighbors, strangers, fellow citizens, and us. But let’s not stop there…many of us believe our pets are family. Lastly, the rash of weather disasters makes it clear the ultimate vulnerable person is mother earth.

Twenty-First Century US

Many fine, highly credible organizations studied and published scholarly works on this subject of who is a family caregiver and what constitutes a family. However, the conclusions are based on the same imposed framework of who deserves care that we used in the last century. We are really missing the bullseye on this. You see, our prototypic caregiver as the 49-year-old married woman raising children and caring for aging parents simultaneously is out of synch with our demographic reality. We have families of choice, blended families, single-parent families, grand families, extended families, stepfamilies, and childless families to name a few permutations of today’s family to construct.

Social Norms Changing Fast

The events of the last twenty years have my head spinning (yours too, maybe?) in terms of world events, politics, economy, and our social contract between and with each other. Take, for example, the Biden administration’s drive to define infrastructure. The last Century’s definition of infrastructure meant the roads, bridges and public transportation is myopic compared to our present definition.

Care is Infrastructure

Acknowledging that care is as essential to our nation as the road that makes our economy work knocked me off my seat. What strikes me about their messages to the nation is WE are all caregivers thus we need to normalize the concept. Think about it, traditionally caregiving was confined to immediate family – children, parents, grandparents. Really? Today’s families come in many shapes and configurations making this a national issue, not a family issue. Are you following the amazing organizations emerging on this issue?

Paid Leave for All

Family Values @ Work

Time’s Up

New America – Better Life Lab

Caring Across Generations

Care Can’t Wait

Care is Essential

Credit For Caring

Women Employed

Did I Blow Your Mind?

Next week I will present an insightful redesign of care. Hope to ‘see’ you then.