Listen: Mary Jo Batters, caring for an elderly parent and people in need

Mary Jo Batters



Mary Jo Batters was, as she puts it, “cloistered” for six years, caring for her mother who had dementia. She learned some important life lessons in those years, such as the way the core of a person remains. Her mother, who was a nurse, cared about people up until the very end. Batters also learned how to reassess her mother’s needs and her own challenges every day so that she could get through each day, one at a time. She learned to think, “Thank you for this day and anything in it.” When she emerged from “the missing years,” Batters says, “My sense of self was distorted.” To re-enter the world at large, she plunged into doing volunteer work for the Community Caregivers, a not-for-profit group that provides non-medical care for people, often the elderly, so that they can stay in their homes. Batters is still volunteering, taking clients to doctors’ appointments or grocery shopping, and becoming a friend to many. In this week’s podcast, she describes the process of becoming a volunteer caregiver and the satisfaction she derives from her work. “Give yourself permission to try,” she urges. Batters also turns the cliché upside down, saying, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” By this, she means, you don’t have to be a pro to take on a new task; you can learn as you go.

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