Using Your Gifts: The Power of Caregiving & Healing Art
By Eileen Schwartz
I was my mother’s caregiver. This experience led me to today, a most creative and satisfying
time in my life. I became a caregiver in 2004 when Mom and I had relocated to Charlotte, North
Carolina. It wasn’t until the last year of Mom’s life that I REALLY understood what it meant to be a 24/7 caregiver. I felt most fortunate that I had the opportunity to help Mom on her long journey, but I was physically and emotionally drained. Thankfully, I had the support and help from an amazing and caring hospice team, volunteers, a loving daughter and friends. Mom passed away (in 2016) after over 10 months under the care of Hospice & Palliative Care of Charlotte Region at the age of 96
For 12 years I had been Mom’s caregiver. I was a warrior, collecting information that
would help me navigate unknown territories. I didn’t apply to be a caregiver. The role just fell
upon me, but that I accepted. It was the hardest role I had ever taken on. I
often felt like I was dying with Mom. During the last year and a half of her life I felt out of sorts.
With little sleep, no exercise and unhealthy eating habits, I was in a major stressful time of my
life. Stress was my partner. My daughter, Marissa, became my best support system.
And then overnight, my Momma was gone, along with my role as a caregiver. I had to
move on to the next chapter of my life: grieving and more. As I traveled the road of grief, I
had this vision to combine my experiences as a caregiver, artist and educator. I created Healing
Art for Caregivers. I recognized that caregivers could benefit from relief from the continuous
strain of caregiving. I realized that I also wanted to help people who have been dealing with
memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
For me, healing art is a process of being in the moment, on allowing creativity to flow.
Doing art can unlock our tensions and bring ease into our lives through the simple process of
creating. The making of art is so personal. Everyone progresses at her or his own level and speed.
Healing can be measured in many ways, both in large and small increments. I’ve seen people
become relaxed and have less tension. I’ve heard family caregivers lovingly acknowledge a mom who had moments of recall. I’ve seen multiple individuals express joy from creating art at home. I’ve had caregivers tell
me how much they appreciate having a new activity to do with their moms. Healing Art for
Caregivers works. Enjoy and relax. There’s no right or wrong way to create. Just do it. Grab some sheets of blank paper, pen or pencil and begin.
One Minute Art Ideas:
1. Scribble all over the paper.
2. Find shapes in the scribbles and color in the shapes.
3. Draw many circles all over the paper.
4. Color in the circles.
5. Close your eyes and scribble.
6. Use your non-dominant hand to scribble.
7. Use two pens, one in each hand and scribble.
8. Draw circles and squares.
9. Scribble and draw lines in the scribbles.
10. Draw a flower using scribbles.
When stress hits, take a minute to switch off your feelings with by engaging in
One Minute Art!!
We all have different gifts and talents. As we age (in retirement), we have more time to pursue them. I urge you all to find ways to use your gifts to help others. Help relieve another’s stress. Visit others to alleviate their loneliness (possibly help with Meals on Wheels), help children learn to read at a nearby school, volunteer at a pet rescue, plant a garden for all to enjoy. YOU know what your passion is, go share it with others!
Eileen A. Schwartz BFA, MAE, CDP is the founder of Healing Art for Caregivers and
creator of One Minute Art. She resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. She’s surrounded by her
Moms’s paintings and countless colorful paintings created by her students, artists and family.
She can be reached at www.healingartforcaregivers.com or 704.962.1668