Care Partnering: Benefits and Setting Boundaries
How maintaining a mindset of care partnering can enhance relationships
In healthy partnerships, a relationship is built on our ability to trust that the other person has our best interests in mind. We share decisions, often compromising, so both partners feel heard and supported.
Most caregivers are already operating with some of these values in mind. Yet tweaking our mindset so that we think of ourselves as care partners can ease potential points of conflict.
Finding my footing
My neighbor, Joe, was in his early 80s when his wife died, leaving him alone in his home of many decades. Joe was unusually vulnerable due to being 100 percent deaf from Meniere’s disease. We’d had a neighborly relationship from the start, but his wife’s death is what led me to offer my help with his grocery shopping. After a time, I began to visit daily, and we grew close. To communicate, I’d write on a legal pad; then he’d read what I’d said and verbally respond. Each visit left him with several pages of conversation to review.
A partnership with healthy boundaries evolves
The first was when Joe and I had a disagreement about allowing me to take over filling his bird feeders every morning.
As Joe and I developed a (usually) easy relationship with healthy boundaries, there were lessons to learn.
I understood that Joe’s being able to sit at his kitchen table while watching the birds flock to his backyard feeders was one of his daily pleasures. So, in my determination to be helpful, I told him that I’d be happy to take over what to me was his chore of getting the food…