Barb Heffner is a communications consultant and a long-distance caregiver who balances her life with volunteer work.
Where and when do you feel most competent? I’m not sure this is the same thing as competence; it’s possibly more about when I feel satisfaction. But it’s whenever I am successful in raising funds or making a good connection for my favorite charity, Room to Read. Recently I was involved in winning a grant for my favorite charity; it was a great feeling.
With what do you struggle? Doing the tasks I should do, versus the easy tasks. When faced with a to-do list, it’s so easy to tick off the items that are simple, and so much harder to tackle the difficult ones.
I definitely struggle with the fact that my 88-year-old Mom lives alone. She really doesn’t want to leave her home and move from her home state (PA) to my home state (MA). You end up asking yourself: Should I put more pressure on her to do it? Is it fair to force her to do it?
What one thing do you wish you had more time for? Reading. I listen to audio books and read print, but I’d love to read more!
With what do you wish you had more help? Cooking
Where do you find support? I value chatting with my book group pals. Many are struggling with the same parental issues that I face.
What is your best habit? Regular exercise.
What is your dream retirement? Near the beach, with meaningful volunteer work a few days a week.
What would you like to see employers do more of to help caregivers? Time off and partnerships with great elder care referral services, so that you feel you’re working with a well-vetted agency or service.
What would you like to see medical professionals do more of to support caregivers? To be more accessible and to explain situations in clear, lay-person language.
Who are your heroines? Madeleine Albright, Nancy Pelosi, Hilary Clinton, Nora Ephron, Barbara Kingsolver
At Room to Read: Erin Ganju (CEO) and Emily Leys (Leads Girls Education program)
What do you admire in/about other caregivers? Patience and positivity in adverse circumstances
What is your motto? “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Madeleine Albright
What is your superpower? Organization and persistence
Caregiving: a blessing or a burden? It’s both. The mechanics and problem-solving aspects can be a burden. The inability to anticipate when your time is needed can be a burden. But the blessing is in knowing that you are giving of yourself to a loved one at the time of greatest need. That can be very satisfying.