Social Entrepreneurs for Seniors


caregiving, elderly help

by Mary Beth Sammons
Social entrepreneur" seems to be the new buzzword in the world where many are reinventing themselves - not always by choice, but because of job loss and uncertain times. Certainly, I praise the idea of reinventing oneself to champion the cause of those who have little or none, to help make changes in society and to seek work that creates meaning.

But, I also suggest that as caregivers for our elderly parents, we are trailblazers on the path of social entrepreneurism - with a slight twist. Our daily job, even if and when it is sandwiched in-between caring for our own kids, maintaining a job and helping our aging parents, is what I'd like to call suggest a new title: "social entrepreneurs for seniors."

Think about it. Isn't that what you do, we do? Aren't we helping to give voice to the voiceless? Aren't we making a difference in the lives of people who need us?

In one of the books I wrote, I interviewed dozens of people who at mid-life, stepped off the fast track to purposefully reinvent to make a difference in the lives of others:  :  Second Acts That Change Lives: Making a Difference in the World (Conari, 2009).

Here are some qualities and driving beliefs I discovered that are part of their everyday, and I'd like to offer, part of the motivations behind those of us who are caregivers when we are intent on doing so out of altruism and compassion:

1.    Tragedy and adversity are transformable.  We can transform the hardships our parent's face, into teaching moments for ourselves, and moments that are not quite so difficult for them, because they have shoulders to lean on. They have us.

2.    Zeal makes a difference When we approach our roles as caregivers with passion and energy, instead of resentment and another checklist on our business daily planners, it makes all the difference.

3.    Driven by a giving heart.  We must be.
4.    Champions, a voice for the voiceless. Part of our role is to be the advocates for our parents. People.
5.    Perseverance: Every one of the second act re-inventors I met had the mantra "I think I can. I think I can." The key to facing each day as caregiver is to keep on carrying on, even when it is an uphill climb.

Do you see your role as caregiver in an altruistic light? How so? Please share your thoughts here.