ACT 2021 Featured Capstone:
Minding the Path of Caring: Compassion-Based Practices for Becoming a Resilient Caregiver
PA-C, MPH – Santa Cruz, California, USA
Who did your Capstone Project serve ?
My capstone project involves the CARE approach to self-care that I have developed for caregivers. It includes a book I am writing and a course I am designing to inform and support family caregivers managing a loved one with memory loss and dementia.
What was the suffering that your project addressed?
My project addressed uncertainty, ambiguity, compounding grief of dementia caregiving. Dementia care remains poorly understood by caregivers, and by their doctors. Many are isolated and at high risk for developing depression, and other chronic diseases
How did this project address that suffering?
My studies indicate that compassion, mindful awareness, and self-care practices have a positive impact on stress reduction and wellbeing. The CARE approach to self-care, resources caregivers’ capacity for becoming Compassionate, Aware, Resilient and Engaged.
Who was your audience?
For the first phase of my Capstone Project, I implemented self-compassion practices from the mindfulness support group I facilitate on a monthly basis for the Alzheimer’s Association.
How was the project delivered (the format)?
I facilitated two zoom courses for the Northern California Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. The first is a one-hour course on compassion-based practices for their regional support group–facilitators. The second one is a 45-min experiential presentation on mindful awareness for caregivers. The final part of my project involves writing the CARE approach into my book.
What was the reported impact on or feedback from participants? On yourself?
The group I facilitate reported increased connection and greater understanding of their experience as caregivers. Caregivers benefit from telling their stories and inquiry provides an insightful technique for deepening conversations.
How has the ACT Program helped you become an Ambassador of Compassion?
ACT helped me synthesize my experiences as the family caregiver the year following my mother’s death. Today I feel confident in sharing my accumulated learnings with today’s caregivers and knowing that science supports my direct experience, and theirs.
What advice would you give to someone who's considering participating in the ACT Program?
If you are going to jump—jump with both feet. Fully engage and you will get a lot out of it. ACT will inform and influence your project's design, but the concept will come from you. You will meet a network of inspiring people from all backgrounds and many countries. If you jump, I'm sure you will enjoy the journey. I did.