We’re All in the Caregiving Business: An Interview with Caregiving Coach Nadine Roberts Cornish
“We’re all in the caregiving business. Whether you have been a caregiver, are currently a caregiver, will be a caregiver or will need a caregiver,” says Nadine Roberts Cornish, founder of the Caregiver’s Guardian, LLC.
With her personal story of her mother's illness as inspiration, Nadine is creating a culture of caring so that people are free to play whatever role of caregiving they can with no regrets. She has an extensive background in public health education and served as an independent consultant with California’s Department of Health Services for 15 years, where she provided expertise on some of the state’s most innovative social marketing campaigns. But Nadine’s most important role was as a 15-year caregiver to her mother.
For the past seven years Nadine has managed, consulted with and supported caregivers across the country. Good Days spoke with Nadine to find out her tips on how to be a conscious caregiver.
Good Days: What advice do you have for caregivers that may find it challenging to support family or friends today?
Nadine: First and foremost, ask every caregiver “Are you making yourself a priority in care for your loved one?” Often the answer is no. You change everything when you make you the most important person in this equation. The reality is even when someone needs 24/7 care, and I totally get what that can be like, even then self-sacrifice is not an option. Let’s talk about getting you some support. Help is a four-letter word but it’s not a bad word!
Can you talk about the importance of group support?
Group support is essential, we truly are communal people. Everyone has a specific thing that they bring to the table and in the caregiving journey, you need not just the primary, but the auxiliary and support team that comes to the table to bring additional joy, expertise and perspective that the primary may not have. These are all important factors to maintain a healthy caregiving experience. When we all contribute to the process we find often that, ‘wow, this is actually doable.’
In your experience as a personal and now professional caregiver, how important is attitude to both the individual that is ailing and the caregiver?
In my book I have a whole chapter on how attitude is everything. It is extremely important, but we must remember we choose our attitude, we choose the disposition that we have. There is a lot of joy in the journey, you need to choose that experience. The individuals I work with find that with the right attitude they have a much richer experience and less regrets.
In what ways is a caregiver also an advocate in navigating what can be a complex health care landscape?
It is impossible to be a caregiver and not address these roles. The patient may be too sick, or not have the capacity to navigate the complexity of the system or advocate for themselves. I often assist with those specific challenges. The number of hats that a caregiver wears requires so much from us and speaks to why doing this alone does not work, why it takes such a physical and emotional toll on caregivers.
Watch Nadine’s TED Talk: