Tag: caregiving

The Greatest Gift You Can Give … or Receive

The Greatest Gift You Can Give … or Receive

The greatest gift you can give another, is to be fully present with them and to give them your undivided attention. The greatest gift you can give yourself, is exactly the same.

I came flying in for a crash landing at mid-life, after several decades of living hell-bent on creating a life I loved to live.  I’d the greatest giftmanaged to run fast and long and hard into a giant brick wall. In fact, I even managed to get up, brush myself off, get back on the track just long enough to smash into another one. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much effort, work, thought and determination I put into achieving my goals, they didn’t happen. I did not, in any way, shape or form, have a life I loved to live. Quite the opposite.

Part of the problem, was that I wasn’t paying attention. I wasn’t fully present in my life. I was looking out beyond the stars, and missing the journey completely. Instead of giving myself the greatest gift, I was working overtime trying to give it to others. I didn’t think I was, but in retrospect I see now that I was so ensconced beneath the masks I wore that I had no idea who I really was or what I really wanted.

At an early age, I learned not to listen to myself or pay attention to my own needs and wants.  The last in a long line of children, little attention was paid to me.  I more or less raised myself, with a little help from my very bossy older sister. As time went on, I came not to expect attention or approval, and interestingly enough, I developed a deep commitment to paying attention to others. (It’s a question of balance.)

I developed powerful radar for those in need. I would give them what I knew somewhere deep inside was the greatest gift we can give another human being. I was able to intuit what they were feeling and thinking, often before they knew themselves, and, as a result, I was able to provide for them what they needed in any given moment. I was not listening to myself so I had lots of available antennae to pick up their signals.  My loss was their gain. Or was it?

[tweetthis]”Be present where you are otherwise you will miss your life.” Buddha[/tweetthis]

I learned a great deal from that part of my life. It has given me skills I might not have otherwise had. I learned that giving another person our undivided attention, being fully present to them and for them in any given moment, is valuable, and it requires setting aside all of our agendas. It means putting aside not only our cell phones, our to-do list, but also our expectations, and to some extent our own needs. Being fully present to another is a gift. It must be freely given. And, it is priceless.

However, as I have said many times, it is essential to give from our abundance. We must give, not to fill our own needs or to balance some imaginary scale of giving, but from the very core and essence of our heart and soul. This is a tall order, and one that is always a work in progress. However, there are two steps that we can take every day toward this end.

  • Be fully present to yourself. Being present to yourself means listening to your own needs and tending to them. Do not put off caring for yourself for some other imagined priority. Love and care for yourself first, as you would a child until you feel anchored and present from deep within. Then the next step is easier.
  • Be fully present to others when it is asked for or needed. This does not mean solving their problems. It does not mean indulging their every whim. It means listening. Hearing. Looking into their eyes and seeing them. It means turning off judgement, turning down the volume on your own agenda, and tuning into their signals and energy. You are looking for a heart and soul connection, so that you might hear their heart. Interestingly enough, one can often hear the most in silence.

 

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.

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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.

STRESS * BURN OUT * COMPASSION FATIGUE * ADRENAL FATIGUE *

STRESS * BURN OUT * COMPASSION FATIGUE * ADRENAL FATIGUE *

Adrenal fatigue is a term that is growing in popularity as researchers learn more about the mind/body connection. Adrenal fatigue is used to describe a collection of non-specific symptoms that occur as a result of ongoing, high levels of stress.

Living in a chronic state of stress, without allowing for sufficient periods of recovery, precipitates a cascade of events depleting the body’s resources. We used to call it “burn out”, but as practitioners tease out more connections and relate them to causes, the conversation is expanding.  What’s important to know is how it connects to you and your life, and what you can do to improve your quality of life.

First, let’s talk about what is taking place in your body when it is under stress.

THE EFFECTS OF STRESS

Have you ever felt exhausted for a day or more after a stressful event?  During the event, energy was plentiful.  You danced at your son’s wedding or handled a crisis with ease and grace. That night, sleep came easily.  The next morning, however, you awoke tired and foggy headed.  Days later your body still felt limp with fatigue and your mind sluggish. You had that “I can’t get out of this chair” feeling in spades.

What you likely experienced was an adrenaline hangover. In stressful situations, good or bad, our body goes on high alert. Adrenaline gives us that boost of energy we need to take care of business. Once the event is over, however, our body takes time to return to its normal state of equilibrium.

Chronic stress has become a way of life for men and women of the 21st century. This is especially true during the midlife years when daily demands intensify. Everything hits at once.  Not only are we coping with a decade or more of the physical and emotional demands of menopause, we are navigating other pivotal life-changes.  For example, our parents are aging and becoming increasingly dependent on us for support. Our children are either temperamental teens navigating their own major life choices, or venturing out into the world for the first time.  We are mid-career, mid-marriages, post divorce and beginning to wonder about retirement. No wonder our body says, “Hey! Wait a minute!”

Chronic stress can do serious damage, not only to our enjoyment of life, but to our long-term health.  The longer we live, the more likely we are to have experience prolonged periods of unabated stress. This can and does eventually lead to adrenal burnout for many. Caregivers are particularly vulnerable to this condition, as day after day, week after week, month after month, they put the needs of their loved ones above their own. Those with chronic illnesses or unhealthy lifestyles are also more susceptible to this condition.

UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS

Our adrenal glands produce hormones that mobilize our body to deal quickly and aggressively with unexpected danger. In today’s world, the dangers we encounter are emotional and psychological, as well as physical.  We may no longer need to run away from wild animals, but we sure might want to run away from our job or home life. Job stress, family dynamics, a poor diet or lack of sleep and exercise take their toll on our adrenal system.

The fact that we no longer fight or flee in the physical sense, actually leaves our body without a means of dissipating the chemicals released into them during a stress response.  We rarely get into a fist fight with our neighbor when she makes us angry, or sprint ten miles down the road to get away from her.  (This is a good argument for running for exercise!)

To complicate matters, stress has become a chronic way of life for our entire culture.  Even as our adrenal glands are working overtime trying to keep up, we are telling ourselves that we are lazy or emotionally weak.  When we’re young we carry on, ignoring our body’s objections. Then one day, often midlife, we realize we have a serious problem.  Our adrenal glands are in a state of fatigue. We are now experiencing “burn out”, not only a psychological phenomenon, but a physical one. Bouncing back becomes increasingly difficult and we become less and less resilient.

FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO ADRENAL BURNOUT

Many factors contribute to, and exacerbate adrenal burnout.  A poor diet, lack of sufficient sleep for extended periods of time, a history of substance abuse, repeated infections, chronic medical conditions, emotional problems, such as depression or anxiety, financial difficulties, a stressful work environment, are all likely culprits.

Reversing this situation is almost always possible, and the sooner the recovery process is begun the sooner we will be back on our feet. Recovery takes not only significant life style changes, but time. We must remember that it has taken us years to get into this situation. It may take months, if not years, for us to repair the damage. The good news is, however, that we will begin to feel better and better as time goes on, even as we must still remain vigilant as we do.

SIGNS OF ADRENAL FATIGUE

 

STEPS TO RECOVERY

ADRENAL RECOVERY SOUP

 

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.

 

Create a Support Network in Your Hour of Need

Create a Support Network in Your Hour of Need

Online SupportPlanner from Caring Bridge
Interactive online calendar allows easy scheduling

Are you , or someone you know, facing or dealing with a health crisis? Are you desperate for a little extra help and support but don’t know where to turn?  Now, you don’t have to go it alone.

Ten years ago my husband had a heart attack. We had two high school age children who were knee deep in extracurricular activities, part time jobs, and college searches. My husband and I supported our family with our home based business, that on the best days required 24/7 attention from both of us. There was not time or energy in our days for what we were already doing let alone to deal with the extra demands of a sudden health crisis.  I didn’t know where to turn.

We called on a few family members to help out, who graciously availed themselves to us, but it was not an orderly, easy coordination of efforts and at times seemed more effort than help. Who can think, plan and organize at a time like that? I couldn’t.  CaringBridge.com did not exist at that time, at least in my world. It would have made all the difference.

CaringBridge.com is a non-profit organization that understands the difficulties inherent in coping with a life crisis. Its mission is to “amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier”.  The evidence is clear that it is fulfilling its mission.

The SupportPlanner is CaringBridge’s primary tool to assist people facing a health crisis such as the one my husband and I faced.  It is an online tool that makes coordination of support efforts thorough, easy  and efficient. It provides a centralized, virtual location to organize helpful tasks, such as the delivering of a meal, transportation, taking care of pets, etc. Only people who are invited by the user to view the planner can access the calendar and sign up for a task, ensuring privacy for the parties involved.

Several months ago, my friend Sandy was facing major surgery. She lived alone and was uneasy about the six week recovery period she was facing, when she would be unable to drive. Her sister had heard about CaringBridge.com and before Sandy even entered the hospital she had signed coordinated a full spectrum of support volunteers using The SupportPlanner and she did it all through email.  She coordinated meals, visits, errands, and drivers and Sandy received the support of a dozen well wishers throughout recovery. The support was a tremendous gift to Sandy and, I believe, resulted in a quicker, less painful recovery.

In honor of National Cargiver’s Month, I encourage you to visit CaringBridge.com and learn a little about what they have to offer.  You never know when you, or someone you care about might need support.