We are pleased to announce that Amber Gifford has joined Caregiving Kinetics! Amber will help us reach caregivers everywhere through her efforts in research, outreach, publicity, and marketing.
Amber is not a stranger to caregiving.
Born and raised in Connecticut, Amber spent most of her “first” career in senior care. She was proud to have worked for multiple Assisted Living Communities as both a Memory Care Director and Executive Director. Her greatest accomplishments included therapeutic program development, relationship cultivation, and caregiver support group facilitation.
After meeting her husband and moving down south, Amber began to remotely support businesses with a focus on the wellness of others. When Amber found out that Dr. Aaron Blight was searching for someone to assist him in the promotion of his forthcoming book on caregiving, she knew it would be a great fit. Not only was Amber impressed by Aaron’s background and drive to make a difference in the lives of so many others, but she felt her past experiences would lend well to the success of Caregiving Kinetics, too!
Amber genuinely believes in the saying “everything happens for a reason” and is excited to assist Aaron in spreading his message of hope. She currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and infant son, and their family will be growing as they are expecting a baby girl in September!
Asked for a piece of advice she’d share with caregivers today, Amber said, “Be patient with yourself. Your relationship with your loved one is growing and evolving in ways you probably didn’t plan for. If you continue to show love and put your best foot forward, then you can rest easy knowing you are doing all you can despite how it may feel in certain moments.”
Aaron Blight, Ed.D., founder of global consulting firm Caregiving Kinetics, has been named a member of Well Spouse Association’s Honorary Board. International speaker, writer, and adjunct professor at Shenandoah University, Dr. Blight formerly served as a national healthcare policy leader at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Bob Mastrogiovanni, Well Spouse Association President, expressed his positive outlook on Dr. Blight joining the honorary board. “His vast experience as a CMS leader and home care agency owner make him uniquely qualified to understand the plight of our caregiving spouses and partners. His background and education give him the ability to be a commentator who can analyze the caregiving experience academically and do it with the empathy of one who has been there. Caregiving for an ill spouse or partner has special challenges because of the intimate nature of the spousal relationship and he understands those relationships better than anyone. We look to the future with optimism because our relationship with Dr. Aaron Blight. “
Well Spouse® Association is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) membership organization that advocates for and addresses the needs of individuals caring for a chronically ill and/or disabled spouse/partner. The organization advocates on behalf of spousal caregivers, and promotes initiatives to help caregiving spouses cope with the emotional and financial stresses associated with chronic illness and/or disability. Well Spouse also coordinates a national network of support for caregiving partners, including a calendar of peer-to-peer support groups, a mentor program, and an online forum on which spousal caregivers can share coping skills and encouragement.
“After so many years developing healthcare policy, I thought I knew something about caregiving,” said Dr. Blight. “But it wasn’t until my wife’s mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor that I really began to understand the scope and significance of caregiving on a personal level. The experience was so profound that it prompted me to redirect my career path in hopes of using that knowledge to better serve people facing the same challenges as Jessica and I had.”
“Through Caregiving Kinetics, I’ve also had the opportunity to learn more about the caregiving experience from a spouse’s point of view,” continued Dr. Blight. “Caring for a partner who is going through a steady cognitive or physical decline is a unique challenge, and associations like Well Spouse are invaluable to the caregiving spouse.” Dr. Blight discusses the concerns of spousal caregivers in his forthcoming book to be released later this year.
As a member of Well Spouse’s Honorary Board, Dr. Blight will help promote the association’s resources and programs among spousal caregivers and other members of the caregiving community.
Caregiving Kinetics’ blog was recently named to Feedspot’s Top 50 Blogs in the Caregiving category. This blog was chosen by Feedspot’s editorial team out of countless other submissions based on metrics such as blog quality, posting consistency, social popularity, and Google search rankings.
Written by caregiving consultant, healthcare keynote speaker, and company founder Dr. Aaron Blight, the blog features posts drawn from personal experience, interactions with patients and families, academic research, industry trends, and deeply held beliefs, including the importance of giving and receiving care– not only for others but for caregivers themselves.
“It wasn’t until my wife Jessica and I began caring for her relatively young mother who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor that I truly began to understand the scope and significance of caregiving on a personal level,” says Aaron.
Although Aaron had previously been writing national healthcare policy for the elderly, his experience as a caregiver changed the direction of his career entirely. He opened a home care company to help seniors and their families who were facing similar aging-related challenges. Although he started his home care company with a desire to focus on senior care and their loved ones, interactions with employees led Aaron to care equally about his staff. Aaron’s research, developed in connection with his doctoral degree, offers insight into how caregivers experience and embrace their roles.
In his award-winning blog, Dr. Aaron Blight draws on a combination of personal experience and industry knowledge to create content that supports and resonates with all those caring for a loved one, and those working to create a culture of caregiving based on more than “fed, meds, and bed.”
Caregiving Kinetics delivers consulting and customized caregiving presentations to large and small groups in the Washington, DC area, throughout the United States, and abroad.
Congratulations to Jennifer Gullison RN, MSN, COS-C, Chronic Care-S of Cornerstone VNA for receiving the Caregiving Kinetics Hand and Heart Award today at the Northeast Home Health Leadership Summit!
In nominating Jennifer for the surprise recognition, CEO Julie Reynolds said, “Jen Gullison came to Cornerstone VNA right out of nursing school, has been with us for 18 years and has been a force of professional growth now holding the position of Chief Clinical Officer. She has a passion for the work we do and she brings it with her every day along with her positive attitude. She always remembers the importance of the patient, their family/caregivers, and the clinicians when making decisions. She is an amazing positive influence on staff, encouraging and coaching them to be their best and providing opportunities for them to be successful through support and education. Jen embraces all this change we have gone through and are now going through with excitement and creativity-always with the mission in mind.”
Thank you, Jennifer, for serving not only with your hands but also with your heart as you lead clinical services at Cornerstone VNA.
All of us have been transformed by caregiving. Now we have an opportunity to go deeper, to share our hard-earned wisdom and to map out a new way of practical caring without desperation or burnout. And the best way to achieve this new perspective is face to face, together with others who understand – in The Caregiver Transformation Retreat.
My life of caregiving began in 1988 when our son Nicholas was born with severe cerebral palsy. During the first years of his life, Nick was often ill and in pain. They were sleepless years, infused with desperate worry. Of course, all this happened before the internet became a lifeline for caregiver support. What we did have though, were parent retreats, sponsored by our local Easter Seal Society.
Those parent retreats were my annual opportunity to learn about new therapies, strategize about the sibling experience and compare notes about ways and means of keeping my marriage intact. But perhaps the best thing about the retreats was the bonding with other parents. Here suddenly, were others who understood. And there were older, wiser parents who took on a natural mentoring role. There was a palpable sense of safety and soothing in those retreats. We all felt it.
Fast forward to 2016. My sister Karen and I found ourselves in the thick of caring for our mom, a loving but willful 94 year old with dementia. Mom was in denial about her needs and living independently with insufficient support. “Muddling through” was a good descriptor for how we were doing. When we could, my sister and I retreated to our family cabin by the lake. On forest walks, we wondered what might happen if Mom broke one more rule. We laughed at the outrageous imaginings of telling Mom what we really thought about her bad behavior. At the end of the weekend, we went back to being good daughters, diffusing crises and brokering deals to ensure Mom’s stability for another week or month.
Looking back on the caregiving retreats in my life, I feel deeply grateful. I appreciate the cyber friendships of other caregivers, but the face-to-face retreats have been something very special to me. They were energizing, hopeful, knowledge-filled and inspiring. In short, they were transformational.
Now, together with Aaron Blight, Zachary White and Amanda LaRose, I am honored and excited to be a co-creator of the new Caregiver Transformation Retreat. Our team has come together with a clear vision of what is helpful to caregivers, wherever they are in their journey of caring. Our retreat is tailored to every group we serve, whether participants are medical professionals or family caregivers. Resilience, personal transformation and a changed perspective on the well of human kindness are the by-products of our retreats. Participants will leave energized, with a new sense of purpose and fulfillment in their caring roles – outcomes only achievable in the magical moments of face to face retreats.