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Today we will be examining the role of joy in home care, and specifically the ways in which joy pertains to the seven “domains of wellbeing” as presented by the Eden Alternative. This is the final installment of this blog series about the domains of wellbeing which are: identity, connectedness, security, autonomy, meaning, growth, and joy. You can learn more about each of these domains by following the hyperlinks above, but I will briefly go through each one before talking about our final domain. I treated identity and connectedness together because they are both speaking of the need for those receiving care to be treated as individuals, not as diseases or ailments. This is what we call person-directed care (which opposes the medical model of care as defined in the “identity and connectedness” blog), and it is foundational to achieving identity and connectedness. Next, security and autonomy were also treated together because they represent two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, physical, emotional, and psychic security are foundational to human wellbeing. However, if security is not also joined with genuine autonomy (choices, individuality, etc.) it can quickly stifle growth. Third, I talked about the importance of meaning making in wellbeing. At its most basic level, meaning making originates from a caregiver who desires to empower their client to find meaning in things they enjoy. For example, going on walks or sitting outdoors, scrapbooking, letter writing, reading, etc. Fourth, we covered the concept of growth which involves a caregiver finding ways to learn from and grow with their care partner. Growth in elder care is the idea that care must flow both directions, and when it does it empowers both parties to learn from and be inspired by each other. Finally, that brings us to the concept of joy, the seventh domain of wellbeing as proposed by the Eden Alternative.
Joy is both one of the most familiar words we use to describe general feelings of happiness or elation, but is also pretty difficult to describe in objective terms. So, instead of turning to theory, I turn to my favorite poets who I believe capture key elements of what joy is and where it comes from. Poet, Emily Dickenson speaks of joy saying, “That it will never come again is what makes life sweet. Dwell in possibility. Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.” And author, Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “Our first mistake is the belief that the circumstance gives the joy which we give to the circumstance.” I believe both these authors get at what makes joy different than simply happiness. To Emerson joy is not something that is gained through a specific experience but is a disposition that one brings to their experiences. While for Dickenson joy comes from the uniqueness of our lives, the fact that we only have one life makes our lives sweet and joy comes from the very experience of life itself more than from a specific event or experience. The important take away from each of these authors for the context of our conversation is that joy is not something we can create or anticipate, but relies on a larger framework where identity, connectedness, security, autonomy, meaning, and growth are present. When these other domains are properly attended to, opportunities for joy abound.
We at Homewatch CareGivers of Crystal Lake are committed to providing the very highest levels of care to all our clients and employees because we believe that the goal of home care should be that everyone thrives. The cultivation of wellbeing is a very high goal for any homecare agency but thanks to the principles we learned from the Eden Alternative, and our fantastic caregivers, we believe that this type of care is possible. It is hard for anyone to claim to be the “best homecare agency” in McHenry, Lake, or Cook county, but we believe our care is special because it prioritizes the individual and creates opportunities for real growth and flourishing.
 "The Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being℠." The Eden Alternative®. August 26, 2020. Accessed October 09, 2020. https://www.edenalt.org/about-the-eden-alternative/the-eden-alternative-domains-of-well-being/.
 Tearly, Oliver. "A Short Analysis of Emily Dickinson's 'That It Will Never Come Again'." Interesting Literature. September 01, 2019. Accessed October 15, 2020. https://interestingliterature.com/2016/10/a-short-analysis-of-emily-dickinsons-that-it-will-never-come-again/.
 Emerson, Ralph Waldo. "Illusions." The Atlantic. November 1857. Accessed October 15, 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1857/11/illusions/376144/.