Hope. I have long thought that the word, “hope” is a strange one. What do the statements, “I hope so” and “Hope for the best” mean? Does the process of hoping change anything - really? Does hope hold a place in the world of eldercare and family caregiving?
If someone has Alzheimer’s we can’t “hope” it away. If a stroke leaves a loved one paralyzed, we can’t “hope” for a reversal in health. We also can’t hope for a cure when the writing is on the wall that whatever ails us is here to stay.
In the English language, hope can be either a noun or a verb, and dictionaries make their best attempt to help us better understand when it comes to defining this unusual word:
- Hope is the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances;
- hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best;
- And hope is the process of expecting with confidence.
Hope comes into play when things are not going very well and when circumstances are dire and we’re uncertain how things will turn out. One psychologist suggests that hopeful people are "like the little engine that could because they keep telling themselves "I think I can, I think I can.” And then there’s “false hope” based entirely on the fantasy of an extremely unlikely outcome.
I am always in a state of eldercare of one kind or another, and that’s why I love to talk about hope. Hope is not lost in the caregiving process; but is redefined. Hope helps me see old age with fresh eyes. I especially feel a connection with hope when someone I love is dying or has died. In their end-of-life process there exists for me a bridge of hope to a new kind of future. THIS is the time for me to ‘make things right’ and resolve my unfinished business.
What role does hope play for care receivers? Circumstances allow them to search for something real to hope for. Questions like, “Who am I now?” and “What kind of goals can I hope for now?” are front and center. As a bed-side caregiver, I use the hoping process to help ease transitions of fear and/or despair if that is what is needed in the moment.
There is a wonderful website I would like to share with you -- BecauseHopeMatters.com -- which was founded on the desire to make a difference in hurting lives worldwide. Maryann Makekau helps people cope with life’s difficulties by sharing strategies through her blogs, books, and radio program. Hope Matters also has a Facebook page and presence on Pinterest.
It’s a tough world out there and we all need sparks of hope from time to time. I can’t thank you enough, Maryann for leading the way.