D is for: Disrupt the Rules: Caregiver Klatch

Jack's Caregiver Klatch

This is definitely the toughest A to Z post I’ve written this year. I’ve written several different drafts, only to have my kids scoff at me because they didn’t disrupt the rules enough. I guess I haven’t hit my rebellious stage yet. But, I think I finally landed on an idea that works. It has to do with a group that I facilitate called the “Caregiver Klatch.”

Men are Caregivers, Too.

In the past 15 years, nearly twice as many men are assuming a caregiver role. While they face the same emotional and physical challenges as women caregivers, they are less likely to get the support they need. This is partly because women are more willing to seek out help, and have a social support network in place. Men, on the other hand, are often expected to take caregiving in stride. They put on a brave face and try to juggle everything on their own.

Jack’s Caregiver Coalition

When I first heard about Jack’s Caregiver Coalition, I was really intrigued. There are so few support services for caregivers of cancer patients, and existing support systems are almost always geared toward women. Men are wired differently from women. They don’t want to sit in a circle, hold hands, and sing Cumbia.

Jack’s Caregiver Coalition is changing that. they are disrupting the rules. Jack’s is a group that serves men who are caregivers for a loved one who has cancer. They do super cool things like carving ice sculptures the morning of the Superbowl, have ax throwing contests, ice fishing, golfing at Top Golf, visiting Prince’s Paisley Park, etc. These guys have a lot of fun together. But these events also invite opportunities for men to talk about how things are going, with other caregivers (usually husbands) in a way that’s natural, rather than forced.

That’s where the Caregiver Klatch comes in

Each month I facilitate something called Jack’s Caregiver Klatch. It’s Jack’s answer to the traditional support group. One thing that makes the Caregiver Klatch so unique is that the participants, themselves, come up with the topics we discuss. Then the group votes on which topics they like most. After a set amount of time, we also vote (thumbs up/thumbs down) about when we are done with a given topic and are ready to move on.

So what’s a woman doing facilitating a group of men?

A couple of years ago, Jack’s decided to make their caregiver klatch a co-ed event. So I attended, looking forward to some comradery with other caregivers.  It was a wonderful experience. We were able to talk about things that non-caregivers would have a hard time relating to. Our shared experience as caregivers became our common bond. I volunteered to help in any way they needed. So, I learned how to facilitate the caregiver Klatch, and continue to do so every 1st Thursday of the month.

It’s difficult for me to facilitate the group due to social anxiety, but once I’m there, I’m always glad. Jack’s Caregiver Klatch has become so popular that we are now adding a 2nd date monthly meeting on the east side of the Twin Cities.

Jacks Caregiver Coalition is making huge waves (good ones) in the cancer community with its unique brand of support. I am so glad to be a part of it.

A to Z Blogging Challenge.

I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ideas for “Thinking Creatively.” I’ll also be doing the challenge at Facing Cancer with Grace, where I will focus on “Avoiding Burnout.” I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is D is for Disrupt the Rules.

Remember the days when you had to actually go to a bookshop to buy a book? Then Amazon came along and changed everything. Think about an issue you’re facing. How might you be accepting the status quo? How could you be conforming to “the way things are done?” What “rules” could you challenge and change?

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather EricksonThe Ericksons

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.



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4 comments on “D is for: Disrupt the Rules: Caregiver Klatch

That’s a really good idea.

Hi Liz. It really was inspired.

Caregivers need tremendous support–the kind that many don’t find. I was a caregiver to my mom-in-law who was suffering from schizophrenia, and then to my hubby, who suffers from Bi Polar disorder. When mom-in-law was with us, things used to get difficult as I used to be home with her all day and hubby at work. Not having any friends or a support group put me under too much stress and anxiety, which I could not share with anyone.
I began hearing about support groups only after she passed away.
Last year, after hubby had a manic episode, I decided to connect with my close friends and cousins for support. Although I can’t visit them as they stay in different cities and countries, it does feel good to have someone to talk to, to share my fears and anxieties with.

This caregiver support group you mentioned in your post is the best thing that the caregivers could have asked for!

Hi Shilpa it is especially difficult as a caregiver for loved ones with mental illness. There is often a stigma that interferes with getting the support you deserve and need. I’m so glad that you have found people you can talk to and share what you are going through.

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