By Carol Zernial, WellMed Charitable Foundation Executive Director
The opportunity to stream new entertainment on televisions and computers is a game changer that allows most of us to find something interesting and fun to watch any time of day or night—a real bonus for caregivers. For those who are not familiar with Star Wars, and my heart goes out to you, The Mandalorian is a new series streaming on Disney+ that tells the story of a Mandalorian named Mando, a bounty-hunting warrior who wanders the stars looking for work. He is somewhat of an outcast, but others respect him.
How does a story from long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away relate to caregiving? Well, caregiving is a universal issue, right? So here are a few lessons I’ve learned on my intergalactic travels:
Lesson One: Don’t worry about how we look
Caregivers shouldn’t hesitate to go out and about on a bad hair day or with no makeup. Apparently, in some parts of the galaxy, it’s okay to just put on a big helmet and cover everything up. Mandalorians always wear a helmet and never show their faces to another living being. If you don’t have a full helmet, you can take comfort knowing you still look better than most life on other planets.
Lesson Two: Taking our time builds character
One of the things I love about The Mandalorian is that the story goes at a slow pace with plenty of time for character development. One of our caregivers said that she got up every day and took the time to plan a good day for both her husband for whom she was caring and herself. These are wise words that sound a bit out of this world. Imagine yourself planning ahead and doing something enjoyable every day, no matter how small. It could change your entire outlook on the universe around you.
Lesson Three: Cute and playful wins the day
Normally, I don’t think that green is a good color on many things, but Baby Yoda is adorable. I’m not the person who instinctively tries a winning smile when things go south, but Baby Yoda teaches all of us that we can make new friends and stand a better chance of survival if we go for cute and playful versus mean and grumpy.
Lesson Four: We never really know who will come to our aid
The Mandalorian gives us excellent instruction on friendship. We never really know our friends until times get tough. Sometimes they stand with us. Sometimes, they let us down. Sometimes, we get help from the most unexpected people (or droids) – people (or droids) we didn’t trust and thought were working against us. With a noble mission, and caregiving is very noble, we can find help along the way. We just have to let someone know that they need to cover us or watch our backs.
Lesson Five: We’ve done this before
Mando has been a bounty hunter for years, and he knows exactly what he needs to do. Of course, he is thrown in a completely new and unexpected situation where he becomes a caregiver, of sorts, to Baby Yoda, and that throws him for a loop. It’s the same for us when we suddenly become caregivers. While we don’t have laser blasters, we do have all the skills and talents that we had before we were caregivers, and we will learn some new ones.
For caregivers – this is the way.
WellMed Charitable Foundation Executive Director Carol Zernial is a noted gerontologist, radio show host, and emeritus Chair of the National Council on Aging. The non-profit WellMed Charitable Foundation focuses on complimentary programs impacting seniors and family caregivers, including weekly telephone learning sessions, evidence-based classes on stress reduction and more. Find out more at www.CaregiverSOS.org or toll-free at 1-866-390-6491.