Living and Aging Well: CareMaps help you visualize your community of care


The journey of caregiving presents physical, cognitive, emotional, psychosocial, spiritual and financial challenges. Thus, it’s beneficial to consider the potential twists and turns of the caregiving trek. An experienced caregiver will tell you, pro-action beats reaction every time! Granted, we aren’t clairvoyant and can’t predict what is around every curve. However, when dealing with a serious, progressive disease process, the requirements of care will increase over time. Furthermore, if the prognosis indicates a long and arduous journey, flying solo as a caregiver is not recommended. Instead, a community of care is advisable.

Collaborative care — a model of caregiving predicated on the creation of a network of caregivers to share in the responsibilities of care results in a community of care. This approach to care is counter-culture. The predominant model of family caregiving in the United States is that of a primary caregiver — a person who bears responsibility for the lion’s share of caregiving duties. As a result, primary caregivers often compromise their own health and well-being in the process of caring for a family member or friend — a reality realized far too late.

CareMaps — a process created by Atlas of Caregiving — is a simple yet powerful way to create a visual representation of your current as well as future caregiving scenario. You can create your CareMap using pen and paper or the online digital option. As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Seeing your situation highlights the gaps in care, the needed resources, the availability of other caregivers, the potential risks posed by your current situation, and future caregiving needs.

After attending a recent workshop on collaborative care and CareMaps, a couple shared what they learned after going through the CareMaps process. The gentleman is caring for his wife, who was diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease a few years ago. Both are of the opinion that CareMaps opened their eyes to the reality of their situation. Upon reviewing and discussing their CareMap, the husband recognized the need for additional hearts and hands in caring for his wife. Furthermore, they identified a fabulous source of help — their neighbors. So, they are proactively recruiting their neighbors to assist as needed. And their neighbors are enthusiastically enlisting — eager to be a part of the collaborative community of care. The experience of this lovely couple gives credence to the sentiment that seeing is believing.

If you care to test-drive the process of creating a CareMap, visit to view several instructional videos. Once done, you can sketch out your caregiving scenario. Discuss your diagram with family, friends and medical professionals. Then, prepare to care. One step at a time, create a collaborative community of care that serves you well.

Jane W. Barton, MTS, MASM, CSA, is founder of Cardinal LLC and is a passionate speaker, writer and listener. For more information email or visit This column is hosted by the Seniors’ Council of Douglas County. The public is invited to the next meeting at 10:15 a.m. June 7 at Wind Crest Retirement Community, Highline Overlook Building, 2975 Summer Wind Lane, Highlands Ranch. Our presentation and community conversation will begin at 10:15 a.m. This month’s topic is brain health and related issues including good nutrition, physical and cognitive activity, fall prevention, concussions, hearing loss and dementia. Deborah Guckes, M.S., CCC-SLP, with Parker Adventist Hospital, will be the guest speaker. For more information, go online to, email or call 303-663-7681.


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