Compassionate Caregiving: How to define ‘home’ and enhance it for your loved one


Laura Nissen PHOTO CREDIT: by laura nissen


Laura Nissen PHOTO CREDIT: by laura nissen


Laura Nissen PHOTO CREDIT: by laura nissen


Laura Nissen PHOTO CREDIT: by laura nissen


Laura Nissen PHOTO CREDIT: by laura nissen

In my work, the topic of home often comes up. When I ask people what home is to them, I receive a rainbow of answers. Some tell me about their house and garden. Some tell me about their favorite home when they were a kid.

Some say it is where their family is. Some say it is where God is. Some say it is just a feeling of comfort and safety where they can be their authentic self.

Whatever the definition of home is for you, I know it is a sacred place.

In a typical year, home is a place that we spend lots of time. In the past year and during the pandemic, many have spent more time at home than ever before.

When you think about what makes home for you, let’s look at it a little deeper. We all have different measuring techniques for what makes a home. It shows us that we all have different values and areas of focus. In addition, when we are caregiving at home, we also need to be acutely aware of what makes our loved one feel more at home.

Think about some of the spaces that people have zoned in their home. There are woodworking shops, music rooms, outside natural space, decks, porches, sewing rooms, TV rooms, pet spaces, art studios, reading rooms, prayer nooks and entertaining spaces. The rooms we design are set aside to be more of ourselves. We create, relax, entertain and enjoy our lives in those rooms.

Does your home reflect what is important to you? If you are like most, it is a yes and no answer. Some rooms reflect our values well, and some do not. If not, this spring you could start a new project. Maybe you want to start a new hobby, and you need a new hobby space. Maybe your loved one would like more time to enjoy nature and would like to start a new shade garden. Maybe your loved one wishes to spend more time listening to music, and you can set up a music appreciation space. Or, maybe you would like to set up a prayer nook to spend time in reflection and prayer.

If the idea of home is to really spend time in comfort expressing more of yourself, perhaps you need to mirror the space in your home to be the space that allows you to fully express your best self.

Whatever home means to you, let’s have more of it this year. My wish is that you and your family always feel at home, wherever you are. And so it is.

Laura Nissen is an Alzheimer’s Association volunteer who enjoys advocating for those with memory disorders. She works with families to help them learn the skills of caregiving. She also enjoys serving as a community educator, caregiver support group leader and Memory Café leader for the Alzheimer’s Association.

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