Tag: aging parents

Do You Really Know What You Believe?

Do You Really Know What You Believe?

 “Not all those who wander are lost.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

One belief, wrongly held, can cast a shadow over one’s entire life.
What do you believe? Do you know what’s driving you?

Over the last decade in my work with women over fifty, I have heard said countless times, “I don’t feel that way anymore”, and “I don’t worry about that anymore. It’s just not important.” The process of self-evaluation seems to begin in earnest as we begin to feel our bodies entering the “maturing woman” phase of life. There is a clear moment in time when we are forced to accept that we are no longer “young” and in our youth driven society that can come as quite a shock! I see it as a gift.

A shock of any kind can be just what we need to shake us out of our complacency. It forces us to ask the hard questions, to look at what we believe to be true at the most fundamental level. When we ask these questions, when we look deep inside of ourselves and ask, “who am I?” and “what do I believe” we set in motion a tidal wave of change.

Our lives cannot change unless we change…on the inside. This does not always appear to be the easiest option! We think it’s so much easier to just tolerate our discomfort, or change externals to alleviate our dis-ease. We imagine that if we get a new job, a new house, a new spouse, a new blouse all will be well. Has that ever worked for you in the long run? It hasn’t for me.

The bottom line is that to live a congruent, energy filled life as we age it is necessary to line up our insides with our outsides. In other words, we have to get in touch with our fundamental beliefs and values and start living them. I believe we are all challenged to do this, if by nothing else than our pain and suffering, for when we are living and acting in contrast to our fundamental values, we will suffer.

What questions need asking?

Knowing what questions to ask often comes along with whatever difficulty we are facing. When my mother was in the last years of her life a conflict arose in my family as to where she should live. I wanted to bring her home to live with my husband and me. My four siblings wanted her to stay put in the retirement home. My mother gave me every indication that she wanted to live with us, was, in fact, desperate to get out of the retirement home and get back into a more comfortable home environment, but, it was very clear she would not ask directly for this, nor would she advocate for herself. It was left to me to decide whether or not I should act counter to the rest of the family. It was a touch place to be as I hurt deeply for my mother. I understood her sense of isolation and loneliness. I wanted nothing more than to ease her pain, but there would be serious consequences. It was time for me to dig deep and wrestle with what I believed at the deepest level. Here are some of the questions I asked myself:

  • Is it worth creating a rift with my siblings that could cause long after my mother was gone?
  • Was my perspective of the situation of any more value and importance than my siblings?
  • Am I responsible for my mother’s happiness?
  • Is her happiness more important than my own?

I came to recognize that while I value family and doing what we can for those we love to ease their pain, they alone are responsible for their happiness, as am I for my own. Happiness is an inside job. Contentment is an inside job. As harsh as it sometimes sounds, even now, the seeds of my mother’s despair were sowed throughout her lifetime. I could never fix that, nor did I want the responsibility for it anymore.

Asking the question is the first and most important step.

When we look closer at an area of our lives that is causing us distress and pose a question that does not contain the word “do” (i.e. what should I do), or have person’s name attached to it, (i.e. what is Johnny’s real issue), then we are getting closer to the question that needs to be asked. You may want to begin by asking, “what do I believe to be true for me in this situation” and what are my underlying beliefs and values about this situation. Formulating the deepest, richest question you can find will take you in the direction of your answer and your resolution.

FATHER’S DAY GIFT IDEAS for BOOMER MEN

FATHER’S DAY GIFT IDEAS for BOOMER MEN


Father’s Day is just around the corner. It’s the perfect time to start thinking about a special gift for the fathers in your life. My husband and I both loved the these two books. Light, but thought-provoking, they are perfect summer reading for the midlife male.

Summer Reads for Boomer Men

LIFE AT 12 COLLEGE ROAD, by Eric Mondschein – Eric Mondschein is a born story-teller. From the very first page I was drawn in to his tales of life as a young boy in the 1950’s. I was flooded with my own memories as he recounted a selection of his childhood adventures.  At times I found myself laughing until tears ran down my face, and then just as quickly I’d sink with the author into quiet reflection.  I was so taken with Mondschein’s stories that I passed the book along to my husband enjoying it again vicariously each time he laughed or recounted a part he particularly enjoyed.

If there’s a “Boomer” man in your life, you’ll want to share this book with him.  It’s a perfect Father’s Day gift.  Just be sure you read it first!

Available on Amazon 

 *****

Dr. Eric S. Mondschein has taught law and education and published and edited numerous articles and books in the field. He has worked 2999e74d88880a7e9d9af0.L._SX80_for the US government in various capacities and directed an award-winning education program for New York. He was awarded the ABA’s Award of Excellence in Law Related Education. He also served as an advisor for an international NGO in Haifa, Israel, in external affairs, security, government relations, and human rights.

He currently resides in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York with his wife, Ginny. They have two grown children Adam and Emily, a son-in-law, Kamal, a daughter in law, Yaani, and grandchildren, Annie, Nathanael, and Eli.

Visit Dr. Mondschein’s website: EricMondschein.com or connect with him on Twitter @EricSMondshein

 



BREAKFAST WITH BUDDHA by Roland Merullo – This is the first Roland Merullo book I have read and I really enjoyed it. I loved the realness of Otto Ringling’s character and the unfolding of his midlife journey, both inside and out. It’s the perfect book for men looking for something more in their lives. There’s no fluff, or long drawn out dissertations on spirituality, just little nudges and believable scenarios. Again, this book won my husband’s approval, so I wouldn’t hesitate to include it for consideration for Father’s Day.

*****

 

Roland Merullo is the author of twelve novels and five non-fiction books.  Born and raised in a working-class family in Boston he graduated from Brown in 1975, then earned a Master’s there–in Russian Studies– in 1976. He currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife Amanda and their two daughters. He can be reached via his website: RolandMerullo.com.

Merullo has a side-speciality, golf writing. His articles and columns appear frequently in Golf World Magazine, and his golf books include GOLFING WITH GOD, THE ITALIAN SUMMER, AND PASSION FOR GOLF.

He also writes regularly for the Boston Globe Op-Ed page.

 


ON A SLIGHTLY LIGHTER NOTE!

A FEW MORE FATHER’S DAY GIFT IDEAS

 

Hippie Van Hat
Hippie Van Hat by AgingAbundantly
Design your own photo hat from zazzle.com.
Selecting the Right Assisted Living Facility

Selecting the Right Assisted Living Facility

18916073_sChoosing to place your aging loved one in the care of someone other than yourself or another family member is a difficult decision. But, the bills are piling up; you have a busy job, and barely enough time to spend with friends and family. This is the realization that you can no longer care for your aging parent(s) or relative without risking their safety and your family’s financial and emotional well-being. You need help! But how do you choose the right assisted living facility?

Far too often have we heard and seen abuse and neglect at assisted living/nursing facilities.  Here are some helpful tips and things to look for that will put your mind at rest and guarantee the happiness and safety of your parent or relative.

The Facility

The quality of the facility itself is very important. This is where your loved one will live, eat, and sleep. Naturally, you want it to be a pleasant place that only encourages the comfort and happiness of your parent or relative. As a general rule, you should always look for reviews and inspection reports concerning the specific assisted living facility you are interested in. Here are three important factors that indicate a good facility:

1.   Cleanliness – The facility should feel fresh and clean. Check furniture, corners, windows, etc. to determine how thorough cleaning personnel are. Use your nose. Believe it or not you can generally get a feel for the cleanliness of a facility based on how it smells.   

2.   Outdoor Areas – Investigate the upkeep and use of the available outdoor areas around the facility. Make sure they are safe, spacious, and enjoyable. 

3.   Living Corridors – Check the living corridors. Question cleaning maintenance and the size of the room to ensure easy use, comfort, and safety.

The People Pay close attention to the staff. These are the people that will be caring for your aging loved ones daily. Are they friendly? Do they listen? Are they caring? Be sure to meet and talk with some of the staff while observing their interactions with current residents. There should also be an ample staff-to-patient ratio for your loved ones maximum care and comfort.

The Care To ensure your parent or relative is being properly cared for, here are some important questions you can ask and things you can do to determine a good assisted living facility:

  • Questions You Should Ask Yourself

Do you imagine you or your loved one being comfortable?

Are the staff and residents friendly, open, and inviting?

Are the current residents properly dressed and well-groomed?

Does the community feel fresh and clean?

Do the staff smile and treat residents with respect?

Does the area feel safe and secure?

  • Things You Can Do

Visit often and sometimes without warning

Be involved in care, medication, daily activities, etc.

Get to know the staff

Have other family members and friends stop by and visit

These tips can help you determine whether or not the facility you are considering is one in which your parent(s) or relative would be happy to live. Use your knowledge, trust your instincts, and guarantee your aging loved one’s comfort and safety by selecting the right assisted living facility.

***********

This article was brought to you by Country Club Retirement Campus. They provide independent and assisted living apartments, rehabilitation services, and long-term and short-term healthcare  services at four locations in the Ohio area. You might enjoy taking a moment to visit their website.

Finding Courage

Finding Courage

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”  ~ Anaïs Nin 

3823782148A few years ago, a couple of friends and I bought matching silver “tree of life” pendants for our necklaces.  I love the tree of life and it’s representation of a healthy life with strong roots holding to the earth, and healthy limbs reaching for the sky.  Later, I added a small charm with the word courage carved into it, and another love charm later from a friend.  I treasured my jangling trio, until one day recently, I reached down and they were gone.  My necklace turned up at a place I had visited earlier in the day, but all three charms were gone.

I was thinking about my missing charms a few days later while talking with my daughter who was home on college break, and how everything is constantly changing.  It is the transition, the actual act of changing from one thing to another that is often the most difficult part.  At 19, my daughter is transitioning from child to adult and her 22 year-old brother, graduating from college soon, is doing the same.   Managing this transition is a turbulent, unsteady time for me, a time of missteps and discovery which can be exhilarating and a little scary.  I would imagine it’s similar for them.

As my children transition and step up to their adult lives, my mother with Alzheimer’s disease, is stepping out of hers.

When I was pregnant with my children, I was in awe of the women who had given birth before me.  It seemed I noticed the mothers in the world for the first time.  Her and her and her.  Mothers.  They were suddenly everywhere and they became holy members of the “mother club.”  How had I not noticed them before?  It’s like this for me now as I notice women whose children are long gone and who have surely lost their mothers by now.  Her and her and her.  Empty nesters, motherless daughters, carrying on, laughing, living.  I’m intrigued and curious about their lives, now lived without their mothers walking this earth, their children far away, and with smiles on their faces.

As my daughter shared her thoughts on growing up and the changes this will bring, we talked about how the only constant thing in life is change, and how we can DSCN0393_2 (1)open our hearts, unclench our grips, and flow with, not fight the changing currents that come our way.  As we talked about letting go, she shared her realization of how difficult it must be for me to lose my mother to Alzheimer’s.  In this moment, with a pensive look on her face,  I knew she was talking about me — that she was imagining ME with Alzheimer’s and HER saying the long good-bye.

It hit me then — my daughter is watching me navigate my mom’s Alzheimer’s disease just like I watched my mom with her mother.  What kind of message was I sending my children in my struggle to let go of my mother and of them? What were they learning from me about accepting change?  Perhaps more importantly, what message did I want to give them?  In barely a breath, a subtle shift took place and I told my daughter that letting go and embracing change is what we must do if we are to live in peace.

I realized that letting go and embracing change is what I must do if I am to live in peace.

Maybe it’s peace that I see on the faces of the motherless daughters with faraway children who seem firmly planted in their next chapter.   If that’s the case, I like to imagine theirs was a hard won peace that began with a valiant struggle against the strong tides of change, tossing them about, churning up muck, then spitting them out into calm waters once they accepted the flow — and finally let go.

A little lighter, and later in the day, my daughter joyfully tracked me down and announced, “Dad found your courage on the driveway!”  We shared a knowing look, then laughed at the fullness of the moment — my courage had been found!  It was beat up but intact, along with my tree of life and love charms which were also on the driveway.  It turns out, we had been driving and parking on them for a week.

Sometimes I miss things that have been in front of me all along.

**********

Joanne Leonardis
Joanne Leonardis

Joanne’s most recent occupation was as a stay-at-home mom to an active son and daughter.  But due to the recent fledgling flight of her children to college, Joanne’s full-time job was recently down-graded to part-time, with most of her duties occurring during the summer months, Christmas break, and through frequent texting.

When she’s isn’t tending to her far away children, or contemplating what her next chapter will be, Joanne spends a fair amount of time as a long-distance caregiver for her mother who has Alzheimer’s disease, and her father who is bewildered by living alone after 50+ years of togetherness.

Joanne has a B.S. in Human Services Counseling, and has worked as a Social Worker with the elderly and at-risk-youth. She currently volunteers in her community in various capacities including as an Alzheimer’s Advocate.  When not traveling between Virginia and Minnesota to visit her parents, Joanne enjoys gardening, meditating, running, and spending time with her husband.

Joanne writes about preventing Alzheimer’s, navigating mid-life, and letting go of her mom on her website Racing Alzheimers
You can also find her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RacingAlzheimers and twitter at https://twitter.com/RacingALZ

Caregivers Benefit from Internet Tools

Caregivers Benefit from Internet Tools

In honor of National Family Caregiver Month: The month is coming to an end, but the job of the caregiver does not. Take a moment to thank a caregiver whenever you have the opportunity and if you are a caregiver, don’t hesitate to reach out to a support network online or off. You don’t have to go it alone.

Sona Mehring, CEO of CaringBridge saw a need and set out to fill it using her knowledge of the internet and social networking.  In 1997, Sona was called upon by a friend in need for support during a health crisis. She was asked to contact her friend’s family and friends to let them know what was going on and to keep them up to speed.

Realizing the amount of time and emotional energy that would be required to fulfill her friends request, Sona  created a website that did everything for her via email.  Her website worked so well and was so efficient that it led to another birth: CaringBridge, a non-profit website that provides the tools needed to do what she did, create a web-based support network during a health crisis.

Sona understood the value of time and efficiency when she faced her own caregiving crisis. Like most she realized her energy was better spent with her friend or keeping up with the demands of her own already busy life than by spending hours on the phone and trying to contact and coordinate support in person.

Keeping everyone in the loop during a health crisis can take endless hours of telephone tag and comparing schedules.  The CaringBridge SupportPlaner enables friends and family members to post health updates, leave supportive messages, organize tasks such as taking care of pets, bringing a meal, running errands and even hospital visits at the individuals convenience. It gives the helper the time to look at what is already being done by others, to see what needs are waiting to be filled and to determine how best he/she can fill them.

In the last decade,  social network tools and websites have had an enormous impact on the world of the caregiver. We no longer need to be alone in our own world of overwhelm and stress. Help and support is just a click away.

When used properly these tools “amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier”. This is CaringBridge’s mission statement and the testimonies supplied by many users tell me they are living up to their mission. Here are a few of the stories they have posted on their website.

One of the most difficult aspects of any caregiving situation is the emotional and physical fatigue that often accompanies any health crisis.  Easy access to a support network can make all the difference. I know I plan to use one next time I find myself in such a situation. Thanks Sona Mehring and CaringBridge for all you do!

 

 

Improving Home Safety and Ease of Mobility – Aging In Place

Improving Home Safety and Ease of Mobility – Aging In Place

Tips For The Accessible Home

By Patricia Moore 

aging in place
A ramp improves mobility and safety.

Accessibility to a home–both indoors and out — is important to help people of all ages maintain independence while ensuring safety and security.  Simple changes and upgrades to a home can help loved ones stay in their homes and familiar environments longer.

The best indoor flooring options for more secure mobility

  • Flooring can help mobility. Wood and ceramic tile floors are much easier to walk on than thickly padded carpet.
  • Safe flooring features, including low or no thresholds (use a beveled strip for heights of 1/4 inch or more), nonslip and non-glare surfaces such as cork flooring, and low-pile carpets or rugs should be considered.
  • The first floor needs an accessible bedroom, bath, kitchen, living area, and laundry room with 42-inch-wide hallways and a minimum of 32-inch-wide doorways. Swing-clear hinges can be installed to widen openings.

How to “illuminate” the interior of the home to provide maximum-layered lighting with minimal effort

  • Task lighting is important for brightening workspaces. Exterior walkways, porches, halls, and stairs also should be well lighted.
  • Lighting features should include dimmers located 18 to 48 inches from the floor.
  • Lamps, recessed ceiling lights and wall sconces can also direct more light.

Increasing the safety features in bathrooms, one of the leading areas of the home for falls or accidents.

  • Thoughtful changes go a long way toward making bathrooms safer and accessible.
  • Many bath products today are functional and stylish. For example, grab bars now have multiple uses – they may double as a towel rack and provide the security of a grab bar.
  • A zero-threshold shower with a built-in transfer seat aids those with mobility concerns.
  • Add non-slip bathmats to help avoid falls and scald-control faucets to protect against burns.
  • A handheld, adjustable showerhead with a side bar makes the configuration more flexible.
  • An ADA-compliant toilet (chair height) with side transfer space is easily used by those with mobility concerns.
  • Wall-mount sink that works with a chair or wheelchair
  • A vanity with open cabinetry underneath can be used by anyone.
  • Textured floor tile with a 5 PEI rating is more durable and slip resistant.

Innovative, do-it-yourself access ramps that make home access “more accessible”

  • The most important aspect of home accessibility is being able to safely enter and exit your home.
  • The designers at Lowe’s created a truly innovative, do-it-yourself ramp system that is simple AND attractive, which can be tailored to fit the exact needs and style of your family and home – right down to the type of lumber used, the railings and accessories. You can even create your ramp to fit a right-hand turn if you need it. Go to www.lowes.com/ramps for more info.

Ideas for landscaping and gardening, one of the most enjoyable and therapeutic activities for all ages

  • Once your ramp is in place and accessibility needs are secured, add personality and customization to the space by tackling a few home gardening projects.
  • Landscaping around the ramp will not only make the ramp a stylish accessory to your home’s exterior, but is also an enjoyable hobby for everyone.
  • Know your body’s weak points and focus on getting the best tools to save that body part first.  Gardening tools sold as “ergonomic” are only good if they fit YOU.
  • Tools such as hoes and rakes should have long enough handles so you can stand upright to use them.
  • Tools should be well-balanced and as lightweight as possible.
  • They should be easy to use, have wide handles, and a padded or thick grip.
  • Keep tools sharp and in good shape. Sharp spades and trowels reduce the amount of effort needed to dig.  Use a metal file or whetstone to sharpen the.

More info: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCTGv9dtuvs

 

Gerontologist and Designer Patricia Moore

 

Patricia Moore, world renowned Gerontologist and Designer, is well known and respected for her work traveling throughout the United States disguised as an elderly woman. Pattie’s mission and experiment was to determine how elders were, and are, viewed in society and provide them with solutions to help them manage common obstacles many of us don’t understand. She was named by ID Magazine as one of The 40 Most Socially Conscious Designers in the world.