Carol (left) with sister Janet (right) after yoga class

We’re so grateful to have you as our Mentor Spotlight of the Month! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

“I live in Beverly, MA with my husband Peter, my sister Janet and our cat Bandit.  I have retired but in the past I worked as a graphic artist, a group home counselor, a salesperson at both a photography store and a children’s clothing store and as a program presenter working with younger children and families in the Discovery Center at the Museum of Science in Boston which was my favorite job.  My sister has struggled with an eating disorder for 50 years with no treatment until recently.  I have been supporting my sister as a caregiver for the past 4 years dealing with hospitalizations and medical follow-up.  For the past year and a half Janet has lived with us and we finally have, after a lot of searching, a great outpatient team of practitioners to support her and we have utilized a number of alternative therapies to assist her in her recovery journey.  Peter, Janet and I enjoy spending time outdoors observing and photographing animals, textures and patterns in nature.  We take a yoga class to get a good workout while also focusing on deep breathing and relaxing.  We love music and have attended many virtual live folk coffeehouses and recently had the opportunity to attend a live folk performance.  To help others in our community, we volunteer our time and talents at Beverly Bootstraps, working in their Food Pantry, Thrift Shop, Community Meals and other Special Projects.”

How long have you been a caregiver mentor at EDF?

“I have been an EDF Caregiver Mentor for six months and I have supported two Caregiver Mentees during that time.”

What is your favorite part of mentoring?

“My favorite part of mentoring is meeting other caregivers, hearing their stories and supporting them in their caregiving efforts with family or friends.  I enjoy listening to their experiences, helping them through the daily ups and downs of supporting their loved ones and locating additional supports and resources.  It is exciting to let the Caregiver Mentee know that they aren’t alone in their daily challenges, that someone else understands what they are experiencing as a caregiver and that there is hope that their loved one can recover from their eating disorder with the right supports, motivation and encouragement in place.”

What is one thing you wish people knew about the importance of a caregiver mentor/mentee relationship while navigating your loved one’s eating disorder recovery? 

“The Caregiver Mentor/Mentee relationship is an important connection since it allows the Mentee to realize that they aren’t alone in their daily challenges as a caregiver and that the Mentor understands the fears, confusion, anxiety and stresses that they might be experiencing as a caregiver and they can confidentially share their thoughts and questions with someone who is willing to listen and support them.”

What would you tell someone who was thinking about joining the Caregiver Mentorship Program?

Carol’s photo of a Snowy Egret having a “bad feather” day

“I would tell a potential Caregiver Mentor that they have so much to share with a Mentee in the Caregiver Mentorship Program because they have first hand experience in supporting a loved one in their recovery journey.  I would also encourage them to step out into a new role since it will also help them in their own caregiving.  I am so glad I decided to become a Caregiver Mentor and I have felt more supported and empowered in supporting my sister by participating in this program and reaching out to support the Mentees I have worked with.  I have enjoyed getting to know the other Caregiver Mentors and hearing how their experiences in mentoring have been going.

I would tell a potential Caregiver Mentee that I hope they will reach out and apply to the Caregiver Mentorship Program to get some additional support and encouragement and not feel afraid, discouraged, hopeless or confused about how to best support their loved one in their recovery journey.  We don’t have all the answers but we can be there for the Mentee when they need a listening ear and some support for themselves.  I am so excited that EDF decided to start up this Caregiver Mentorship Program since it provides a much needed resource for caregivers.”

What is the best advice you feel like you’ve received as a caregiver?

“The best advice I have received as a Caregiver is to focus on my Self-Care because I really can’t be there to support my sister unless I make sure that I am taking care of myself first.  Another good piece of advice is to remember to breathe and to make time to observe and really listen to your loved one you are caregiving for because that is the best way to support them in their journey by meeting them where they are and finding out what they really need and want for support.”