Tag: eldercare

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.

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.

Shelley Webb, RN ~ “The Intentional Caregiver”

Shelley Webb, RN ~ “The Intentional Caregiver”

Shelley Webb, RN is “The Intentional Caregiver”.  With more than 30 years of experience as a Registered Nurse, RN Case Manager, Geriatric Care Manager and caregiver to her father, she has a wealth of experience both personally and professionally. Her understanding of the myriad facets of caregiving puts her in a unique position to offer support and guidance all who care for aging parents and loved ones.

A consultant, coach and adviser to caregivers, Shelley is passionate about helping others find a way to simplify, calm and enrich their lives in the midst of  trying circumstances. She believes that by being intentional about the caregiver role, an experience can be created that is not only survivable but enjoyable and meaningful.

As “The Intentional Caregiver” and President of The Eldercare Support Groups, Shelley and her network of experts have become the definitive source for educational materials, encouragement and successful strategies to enable the caregiver to create an easier, less stressful and even more rewarding life. She is also a volunteer advocacy ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association, a panel expert at ShareCare.com (a new online health and wellness platform created by Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Jeff Arnold – founder of WebMD), as well as a speaker, and an expert writer for several on-line “boomer”, aging and caregiving resources.

You can catch up with Shelley on Facebook,  ,  Twitter @ShelleyWebbRN , and/or Share Care

For more information visit her website: The Intentional Caregiver

Accepting the Role of Caregiver to Your Aging Parents

Accepting the Role of Caregiver to Your Aging Parents

"Hydrangea" Photo by D Sander All rights reserved

Moving into the role of caregiver for an elderly parent can be a rugged journey along a treacherous path of frustration and indecision. As children of aging parents, we are often right in the middle of the busiest part of our own lives. We are not only juggling the demands of our growing children, we may be at the pinnacle of our careers, facing financial concerns as college expenses loom on the horizon and a whole array of other concerns that are likely to keep us awake at night, along with night sweats!

Becoming the responsible person for Mom and/or Dad is not something we are necessarily prepared to do. We still remember how hard we worked to move out of their lives and establish our own. It’s not uncommon to feel the tug of unfinished childhood business when the time arrives to hand back a piece of our lives to people who used to take care of us. It is uncomfortable and awkward to become the parent to a parent and it is likely to be as equally uncomfortable for the parent to give up their sense of control in the relationship, just when they are losing so much control of their day-to-day life.

It takes two people who are well grounded and comfortable with who they are to enjoy this journey. Most of us are not in that place! However, love allows for, and simultaneously demands, fluidity throughout life and caring for our elderly parent(s) is a practice field upon which we will hone a number of essential life skills.

Here are just a few:

Practice patience, not only with your loved one, but with yourself. Accept that we never have all of the answers, but we do the best we can with what we have.  We are always in a state of “becoming” and all will be as it should be.

Focus on the now. Today is all we have. Focus on the most valuable and meaningful thing in each moment. Consider that sitting with Mom and watching the birds might be just more important than spending an hour on the phone making doctor’s appointments.

Read. Reading articles, books and anything you can get your hands on that deals with the issues you are facing.  It is a very helpful way not only to gain a fresh perspective, but also to feel less alone in your difficulties.  When I was caring for my parents there was very little information or support available for the children of aging parents. Luckily, you can now find a plethora of information at your finger tips online. A few of the people I know personally are listed here in the Caregiving Section of my website  and any of them will gladly offer a hand.

Create space for you. This skill might just be the difficult one you will need to practice, but it is also the most important. Your soul must breathe, your inner spirit must live, if you are to continue to give to others as life requires of you. Caregiver burnout is not a pleasant experience, having been there myself, and it’s not good for you physically, mentally or emotionally to give until you can give no more. Keep your well filled and you will have what you need before, during and after the period of time you are caring for your parents.  Create space in your day, every day, for quiet, do-nothing time, even if it’s only ten minutes.

Exercise. Physical exercise is an excellent way to burn off the excess adrenaline that bombards one’s body during stressful times. Just be alert to any tendency you might have to over exercise and honor your body’s need for rest and relaxation.

Fill your backpack with a few of these essential life skills and climbing the mountain ahead will be easier than you may imagine.

SUPPORT FOR CAREGIVERS

SUPPORT FOR CAREGIVERS

There are many caregiving blogs offering support, advice and information for the caregiver. Each has something unique to offer and worth a visit if you are caring for a loved one. It’s a great place to talk about issues that concern you and see how others are handling their particular set of circumstances. Many websites have come online and new opportunities arise every day. A few are listed below and more will be added from time to time.

If you are a caregiver, take advantage of the information and support that is available. It’s really tough to go it alone.

 

INDIVIDUAL SUPPORT

TRANSITIONING AGING PARENTS – Dale Carter offers personal support for the caregiver. READ MORE

RELATIVE MATTERS – Chris Moon offers caregiving consultancy services in England. READ MORE

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ONLINE AND GROUP SUPPORT

HELPING AGING PARENTS – A counselor,educator and writer, the author of this blog shares her insights and experiences as a long distance caregiver for her elderly parents until their death, and now her husband’s mother.

MINDING OUR ELDERS – It is the mission of Minding Our Elders  and its author Carol Bradley Bursack to shine a light on the isolation often felt by caregivers and seniors and to give them a voice.

THEY’RE YOUR PARENTS TOO – “How siblings can survive their aging parents without driving each other crazy.”

THE INTENTIONAL CAREGIVER  –  I love this website! Shelley Webb is a registered nurse, geriatric care manager and health coach. Having cared for her father who suffered from dementia and congestive heart failure (along with neuropathy of the legs), she developed a keen interest in helping caregivers navigate their way through their own difficult but rewarding journey.

CAREGIVER.COM – Caregiver Media Group is a leading provider of information, support and guidance for family and professional caregivers. Founded in 1995, we produce Today’s Caregiver magazine, the first national magazine dedicated to caregivers, the “Fearless Caregiver Conferences”, and our web site, caregiver.com which includes topic specific newsletters, online discussion lists, back issue articles of Today’s Caregiver magazine, chat rooms and an online store. Caregiver Media Group and all of it’s products are developed for caregivers, about caregivers and by caregivers.

NATIONAL FAMILY CAREGIVER’S ASSOCIATION 

The National Family Caregivers Association educates, supports, empowers and speaks up for the more than 65 million Americans who care for loved ones with a chronic illness or disability or the frailties of old age. NFCA reaches across the boundaries of diagnoses, relationships and life stages to help transform family caregivers’ lives by removing barriers to health and well being.

CAREGIVING.COM – A Community website for caregivers.

AARP – Caregiving Resources – Everything you need to know and more!

 

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CAREGIVING ARTICLES

HUFFINGTON POST on CAREGIVING

NEW YORK TIMES BLOGGER PAULA SPAN – You will find an excellent selection of topical articles on caring and coping with aging parents. Here are a few:

AGING ABUNDANTLY ARTICLES ON CAREGIVING

 

A Gift for Mom

A Gift for Mom

Photo by Chalmers Butterfield

My mother lived to be ninety-seven years old. Born in 1911 she saw the world undergo enormous changes. She lived a life that was not without its problems, but always seemed to find a way to give to those in need. When she and my father sold the family home and moved into a retirement community it was an enormous change for her. She didn’t know what to make of apartment living after tending to her own home and gardens most of her life. She struggled to make it “home” and for the most part, she succeeded. When my Dad died a few years later, she was adrift. Disabled from a stroke in his mid-sixties, she had hovered over him and cared for him for twenty years. She was a caregiver by nature and I learned, first hand, most of the tricks of the trade.

For the next eight years, my mother struggled to make sense of her life, to understand what it was she was supposed to do with her time while she waited to die. At first she rallied the necessary support from her children to fulfill her bucket list. Then she turned her attentions toward her neighbors in need. She baked cookies, washed laundry, fetched mail and looked in on sick and dying friends. There came a day, however, when she could do this no longer. One by one she gave up her caretaking activities. It was her turn to be cared for, but it was a completely unfamiliar role and she fought it every step of the way. This made it difficult for her children.

As we age we are asked to change our idea of ourselves and our purpose, sometimes multiple times before we die. As our physical and mental capacities diminish placing limits on our accustomed activities, we must find new ways of understanding who and what we are. For many it is difficult to live without a purpose, or for those like my mother who played more or less the same role her entire life, impossible. Trying to comfort my mother by distracting her was the only thing we knew to do. It may have been the only thing we could do. After all, each of us must make peace with our own lives, no one else can do it for us. This is the job of the elderly. This is the purpose of the last years in life.

It is hard for the living to understand the dying process. It is almost impossible to plan in advance how we will respond. Watching from a loving distance, as our parents pass through this difficult life process is their last real and valuable gift to us. We have much to learn from them even or especially when they are dying. What we witness will inform how we will handle our own last days. It may inform how we live from that day forward. Walking with them, loving them, and allowing them to do whatever thrashing about they need to do as they wrestle with their living and their dying is our last gift to them.