Dezined4Joy is a community of family caregivers seeking to survive, thrive, and live a life of joy. I am Jennifer Sheran, a fellow family caregiver, building a community to help caregivers survive and thrive by intentionally designing their joy amidst the trials and uncertainties that come with caregiving. I offer resources, tools, and information on self-coaching, vision mapping, life planning, person-centered planning, and mindset.
A caregiving journey
Family caregiving is something I have experienced throughout my life. From 7th grade to my senior year of high school, we took care of my grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. I helped my parents with her care. As it progressed, I saw my parents struggle to run businesses, care for her, and care for three children.
Now, I am a mother of two teens and a young adult. My youngest has Down syndrome.
The day we got the news that our newborn had Down syndrome, my husband made a plea.
“Now don’t run out and get involved in every organization,” he said.
He knew a whole new journey, a new purpose had already started for me.
Soon after Joey was born, I joined the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta. I eventually served on its board for six years. For a few years, I put my professional background in communications to use for our local Down syndrome association and GiGi’s Playhouse . I also was the marketing director of a nonprofit serving people with developmental disabilities. I became a Partners in Policymaking graduate and regularly advocate for issues supporting individuals with developmental disabilities.
Along the way, I have talked with dozens of parents. They face struggle, surgeries, loss, loneliness, discrimination, and ignorance. Yet they embrace the community, love deeply, become advocates, and rise above.
Parenting a child with special needs comes with additional challenges and aspirations. We worry about our kids’ health issues, behavior challenges, education access, progress, and inclusion, fitting in, independence, future, and how all of this will affect siblings. We also face additional financial challenges and the realization our empty nest years may never actually be empty.
The next season of caregiving
I am in a new season of challenge. One well-known by members of what is called the Sandwich Generation – those of us caring for our children and our parents. In 2020, my mom had a stroke. She was my father’s caregiver – he had COPD and Kidney disease, so both of their care transitioned to me. In 2021, we moved to a home with a small cottage on the property so my parents could move in and we could provide care assistance. During this time, I had to manage their individual needs and get them to pack up and sell a home they lived in for 40 years. My dad declined through this process and passed away in October 2022. Now, I care for my mom.
Dezined4Joy helps family caregivers create their best life. We seek to:
- Empower family caregivers to survive, thrive, and design their own lives of joy.
- Facilitate individuals with disabilities to thrive in their community and live a life they designed with their loved ones.
- Help families connect with their aging loved ones to purposefully plan & prepare for senior living.
Our mission is to help family caregivers live intentional and joyful lives and create appreciation, inclusion, and acceptance for people living with disabilities. We can get there by teaching a valuable lesson – we are all designed for joy.
Behind the Name Dezined4Joy
I am inspired by how many of my friends with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities have an innate presence of inner joy. They freely express complete delight in the beauty and the comedy around us that many of us miss. My son’s smile, cheers of joy, and infectious laughter fill me with moments of pure joy every day.
It was at a funeral of a sweet angel who was gifted with Down syndrome, and in her short life shared her joy with so many, that it hit me. We are all designed to experience that kind of joy. Our special loved ones just might be more in tune with it than the rest of us.
My vision is a world where there is consideration, appreciation, inclusion, and acceptance for people living with disabilities and the families who care for them. I believe we can get there by embracing the valuable lesson I learned from my grandmother, son, and my mom– we are all designed for joy.