While tragic incidents of carers burnout have drawn public attention in recent years, stress and grief are not always the only outcomes of caregiving. The journey of ageing is not merely a process of problem-solving, but could be a blessing for carers and care recipients when they look back in the future – from solidifying affectionate relationships in the family, acquiring new skills and knowledge, to reflecting life priorities and meanings. However, these positive experiences are often buried under heavy physical load and psychological burden, and frequently ignored by the carers and their care recipients.
As such, The D. H. Chen Foundation (“the Foundation”) and the Department of Psychiatry of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (“CUHK”) have co-initiated the Shadowing the Golden Path Program (the “Program”), a systematic multi-model program to engage the participating carer-older adult dyads to re-discover the positive aspects of caregiving in the carefully designed 10 sessions.
Through taking physical and mental relaxation exercise, sharing of practical caregiving and self-rediscovery knowledge, discussing anticipatory grief and the eventual end of the caregiving journey, the participating carer-older adult dyads are expected to be better prepared when the care recipient passes away.
Research suggests that departure of children and grandchildren might create further impact on older adults. The Program incorporates an added component to support families experiencing separation of younger generation moving abroad by assisting these families to inspect, embrace and appreciate different caring roles through the life journeys.
All in all, the Foundation hopes the participating carer-older adult dyads would gain new perspectives by re-visiting and re-discovering the beauty of walking on a peaceful path with their loved ones till the natural ending – and hence be able to enjoy and treasure the present.