Tired and Wired

Over coffee a friend and I were discussing the cold that is going around.  I shared how my cold has been hanging on for weeks and I’ve tried all kinds of over the counter medications but none are helping.  My friend shared that he didn’t like taking cold medication because it made him tired and wired all at the same time.

The truth of the statement made me laugh, however; it also made me think about how true this statement is for family caregivers.  This past month as I’ve helped care for several family members I have spent most of my time exhausted in action.  I didn’t think of stopping because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to start again.

The tasks associated with caregiving are numerous, especially when multiplied by the rest of our work/life responsibilities.  I daily write blogs, articles and emails that share the importance of self-care, however; when our “in-motion” fuel is made up of a mixture of adrenaline, stress and worry with lack of sleep thrown in for good measure it’s hard to stop the momentum and take time for ourselves.

However; it’s crucial for all human beings to have down time in order to rejuvenate and be fully involved in the decisions needed to be made, as well as present for those we love.

Here are some tips to take you from tired and wired to active and healthy:

  • Get a good night’s sleep – see worry hours for helpful tips
  • Plan for the day – instead of running all over kingdom come, write down your appointments and errands for the day and set up a best scenario route.  For example every day I write down what is the optimal route to drive to take care of all of my errands in an efficient and effective way (not to mention cost savings on gas).
  • Evaluate requests– when people ask you to take on “other duties as assigned” evaluate each one by asking the following questions:
    • Do I really have the time and the energy to take this on?
    • Am I doing something that someone else can do for themselves?
    • What will I have to give up in order to take this on?
    • Set Boundaries– create “me-time” each day where you don’t answer your phone and you let your family and friends know that during this time no one can ask anything of you.  Start with 10 minutes and increase your time each day by 5 minutes until you get up to an hour of focused time to yourself.
      • This could include resting on your bed.
      • Taking a bath.
      • Walking around the block.
      • Reading the paper.

Understand that taking care of yourself is key to truly helping those around you.  Make yourself the priority today!  You’ll be healthier for it.

For more resources visit CaregiverLife.com

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People just want to see a Puppy

The other day I shared with my Dad how frustrating it can be to post supportive caregiving tips on social media only to get little to no views or response, yet when someone posts a puppy video there are thousands of likes and shares.  My Dad fully understands the challenges associated with being a caregiver as he cared for his wife Helen for several years before she passed.  Because of his experience I was sure he could understand my plight in trying to share useful information to support family caregiver.  I was thunderstruck by his response.  My Dad very simply, yet profoundly responded, “Life is hard, especially when you are a caregiver, sometimes people just want to see a puppy”.

Therefore, in the light of this revelation, today I will not be sharing any caregiver insights or tips, just some pictures and videos of my puppies.  Enjoy.

If any of you happen to want more information about caregiver support/resources – visit CaregiverLife.com

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Guest Post – Bathroom Renovation Tips for Family Caregivers

If you have an elderly family member living with you, or are thinking about moving them in, you may want to consider renovating certain facilities and structure in your bathroom to make it more convenient. Not only is this comfortable for the elders, but also to anyone who is responsible in taking care of the elderly. Check out these bathroom renovation tips below to get you started.

  1. Turn your showers curbless

Shower areas usually have a curb to avoid water from seeping to the whole bathroom. However, transitioning elders (who are in a wheelchair) to a curbed shower is difficult. Not to mention the possible accidents that you can encounter while transporting the elderly to the shower area. Furthermore, a curbless shower is easier to clean than a shower enclosure.

Curbless showers are imperfect and it has one main disadvantage you should know: it causes water to spread out the bathroom. Fortunately there are solutions for this problem. First, you have the option of installing a pivoting shower screen to act as a barrier between the shower area and the other parts of the bathroom. Second, you can install a rain head. The function of the rain head is to force water into a single concentrated spot (specifically the drain area).

  1. Improve lighting

Elders are most likely to have impaired vision so you need to ensure the bathroom is properly lit. Use LED lights with high watts to illuminate the bathroom well. We also suggest installing a high quality nightlight in case the elderly have to use the bathroom during night-time. Installing nightlights along the hallway leading to the bathroom is also a good idea.

  1. Bathroom should be on the same floor as to where the elder sleeps

Going to the bathroom shouldn’t be a struggle for seniors; which is why the bathroom should be on the same floor as where the elders sleep or stay for a long time. If creating a new bathroom is too difficult or expensive; then you should set up a chair lift to make it easier for seniors to travel between floors.

  1. space for more maneuverability

Bathrooms that are too packed can become a trouble for seniors who have to use a wheelchair. In fact, they might not even get their wheelchair through the bathroom due to the limited space. For those of you who plan on renovating their bathroom; you should consider creating additional space for easier wheelchair movement.

 

About the Author:

Katie Jones is the content manager of http://www.plumberleichhardtnsw.com.au. She enjoys creating informative and useful material in relation to home improvement and plumbing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Chosen One

Copyright StarWarsA friend called me the other day and shared her concerns about being chosen to be the health-care and financial power of attorney for her mother.  She had heard me speak on the topic and the challenges associated with the choice.  Having to make critical decisions under overwhelmingly emotional circumstances can be trying for even the strongest of souls.

As I’ve shared in presentations and posts, choosing a POA (and making sure it’s the right person for the job) is imperative. (See FYI about POA).  However; being named as the “chosen one” has its challenges as well.

Here are just a few:

  • You may question why you were picked
  • Others think they would have been a better choice and question why you were picked (
  • Knowing when to step in to help someone in making difficult health-care decisions
  • Having the strength to make the decisions that they would want IN SPITE OF your emotions and/or the emotions of other family members.
  • Having the courage to make difficult decisions IN SPITE OF the criticism of those around you.

Sounds daunting but have heart there is hope.

Here are some steps that you can encourage the person who has deemed you the “chosen one” to take once they’ve made their decision

  • Have a very direct and serious conversation about what they want/don’t want in certain situations.  Use the “what if” blog as a starting point.
  • Ask them to write down in DETAIL what they would or would not want done if certain situations were to arise (helpful tool – 5 wishes)
  • Confirm that their decision to choose you as POA and their detailed wishes are written down (DON’T ASSUME). Make sure to get a copy of the paperwork for your files, and be informed as to the location of the original copy.
  • Encourage them to share their decision, as well as their wishes with other family members so that everyone understands that this was their decision and isn’t about “favorites”. It’s strictly about who will be able to administer care directives in the fashion requested by the assignee.

you-are-the-chosen-one-pl-ffffffImportant point!!**Just because someone asks you to be their power-of-attorney does not mean you have to say “yes”.  This is a VERY important appointment and should not be entered into lightly.  You must be willing and able to follow their wishes IN SPITE OF your own thoughts, feelings or emotional connection.  If you do not think you can do that, you should be honest with them and graciously decline and share your reasons.

 

 

(Picture Copyright: Obi-Wan Kenobi/Star Wars, Mr T/Meme generator.net)

 

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Logan – A Caregiver’s Story

Copyright 20th Century Fox

Copyright Marvel/20th Century Fox

I will admit that I am a HUGE Marvel geek.  My friend Anne Marie and I attend opening night of all Marvel/DC Comic movies (I persuaded my husband to create a Super Hero bathroom in our Master Bedroom using Marvel and DC Comic movie posters).  Therefore, when I saw the preview for Logan (Wolverine/X-Men), I pre-ordered tickets and eagerly awaited opening night.

Early on in the movie, though the primary storyline is about the girl Laura, Logan’s daughter, the underlying narrative is one of the caregiving relationship between Logan and Professor Charles Xavier.

*At this point I want to assure my fellow Marvelites (not sure if that’s a word, if not, it should be), that I will not reveal any key movie spoilers, only my perception of the relationship between Logan and Professor Charles Xavier.

Professor Charles Xavier has always been a father figure to the mutants and Logan, for me, epitomized a type of prodigal son, whom Charles always welcomed back into the family fold.  Now in his advanced age, Charles is in need of care by someone who not only understands that his mind and body are frail and failing, but that the challenges of caring for an elderly loved one become more complex when that person is a mutant.

You may be wondering: OK Sue, you saw a movie and the characters cared for each other- What does this have to do with me?  Thanks for asking (I said to myself) – I’ll tell you.

The eldercare dynamics encountered by Logan and Charles, along with Logan’s normal capricious temperament (and a multi-generational movie twist), paradoxically embodied the challenges, frustration and chaos experienced by the majority of family caregivers throughout their caregiving journey.

Caregiving is a complex, nonetheless, there are things you can do to make the load a little lighter.

Lessons from Logan (both constructive and adverse)

  • Show up – even when you don’t want to because the burdens feel so overwhelming
  • Accept support from others – this was a difficult proposition for Logan as well as countless family caregivers, however, Logan employed another mutant to assist in the care of the professor.
  • Even in the midst of frustration and overwhelming feelings of dejection, do your best to be respectful of those in your care as well as those who are helping you (even if they don’t do things exactly how you would do them)

Most importantly TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!

This was the greatest challenging for Logan and EVERY caregiver I have ever met (myself included –see Fundamental Rule of Caregiving).  It’s easy to get overwhelmed when caring for a loved one and not only put self-care on the back burner, but develop unhealthy habits.  If you don’t engage in self-care, both physically and emotionally (ex: making time to exercise and seek an outlet for frustrations, whether through a formal caregiving support group or with a trusted friend – challenges associated with caregiving can have a negative effect on your health and makes you less effective in the care of others.

logan-trailer-breakdown-11

Copyright Marvel/20th Century Fox

Make self-care a priority, exercise, read a book, go see a movie (Logan is now playing in theaters – Official Trailer).

 

 

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FYI about POA

Medical Power of Attorney (POA) is something each of us, no matter our age, should have.poa Frequently, people grant POA to their spouse, children or siblings. POA goes into effect only if you are not able to make competent decisions. Not when the POA doesn’t like or agree with the decisions you are making.

*It is crucial to choose someone you trust and discuss what you do and don’t want done in certain circumstances (i.e. removing life support).  Confirm they are willing to following YOUR wishes in spite of their feelings at the time the decisions have to be made. When someone has been granted the POA for another, they have an ethical responsibility to act in good faith on behalf of the person.

FAQ

What is a Medical POA?

It is a document, signed by a competent adult, i.e., “principal,” designating a person that the principal trusts to make health care decisions on the principal’s behalf should the principal be unable to make such decisions. The individual chosen to act on the principal’s behalf is referred to as an “agent.”

What happens if I do not have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?

If you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and are physically or mentally unable to tell your doctors what you want, the following people, in order of priority, are legally authorized to make your health care decisions for you:

  1. Your court-appointed guardian or conservator;
  2. Your spouse or domestic partner;
  3. Your adult child;
  4. Your adult sibling;
  5. A close friend; or
  6. Your nearest living relative.

When does the POA have the right to make health care decisions on my behalf?

A POA can make health care decisions for you only if your attending physician certifies in writing that you are incompetent, some states may require 2 physician certifications. The physician must file the certification in your medical record. Usually the POA authority will take over in situations where you suffer from advanced dementia, permanent disability or experience a dramatic mental decline.

The process to appoint your POA should be done before competency is questionable. As long as you can make decisions for yourself, there is no need for a power of attorney.

Can the agent make a health care decision if I object?

No. Treatment may not be given to or withheld from you if you object. This is true whether or not you are deemed incompetent.

What health care decision-making power does the POA grant to an agent?

The POA can make arrangements for doctor visits, treatments, medications, tests and surgeries if needed. It also gives the agent the power to make decisions about life support.

However, an agent cannot consent to:

  • Commitment to a mental institution
  • Convulsive treatment
  • Psychosurgery,
  • Abortion, and
  • Neglect of comfort care.

In the POA document itself, you may limit the agent’s decision-making authority. The POA agent can be changed at any time by simply tearing up the old form and filling out a new one. Many states do not require a lawyer or notary to update the forms so check what the requirements are in your state.

**This post is meant to share basic information about POA laws in order to get you to think pro-actively about potential future care needs and those whom you would want in charge of your care.  Laws vary from state to state, so it is important that you consult with an attorney near you on the scope and range that a medical power of attorney contract has for you.

References: Texas Medical Association & AgingCare.com

 

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Strategic Caregiving

plannowheader“I wish I had met you when…,” I hear some variation of this phrase weekly (sometimes daily) from people I meet through networking and personal events.  The statement derives from people who have experienced the chaos associated with caring for an elderly loved one with little to no idea what resources were available to assist them or the person they were caring for.

REALITY CHECK: At some point, we have either been, will be or know someone who is the caregiver of an elderly relative. Depending on our life expectancy, we will also become an elderly person in need of care and resources.

So, what happens when caregivers have to make decisions with no preconceived notion about available resources or are making decisions in reaction to a crisis? All decisions made from the point of the “incident”, the fall, hospitalization, _____ (you fill in the blank), are done in REACTION to the situation.

Without a proactive plan in place, these very important, potentially life altering decisions will be based primarily on the emotional response to the event or the direction given by a medical professional (often one who is meeting your loved one for the first time).  Regrettably, reactionary decisions can have unexpected consequences that may be in direct opposition of the person wishes.

I realize that in our busy world, if something isn’t happening to us this instant, then we aren’t going to seek out information and resources concerning the “what if’s” in life.   Unfortunately, in the case of elder care, lack of a “what if” strategy can lead to uninformed decision-making when a crisis strikes.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way.  There are preparations that can be made TODAY for the “what if’s” in life.

Ask yourself and those you love these pro-active “what if” questions and begin the effective process towards preemptive crisis management:

  • If I cannot make health care decisions for myself, who would I want to make those decisions? (See FYI about POA)
  • What guidelines would I want my POA to follow in determining what care was given? (i.e., nutrition, resuscitation, end of life comfort/care. See 5 Wishes or ask your local hospital if they have copies of POA/Living Will forms)
  • What if I could no longer manage my finances, who would I trust to manage them for me?
  • What if I can no longer care for myself in my home?
  • What if I needed long-term nursing care, would I want that in home or in a facility?
  • Do I have enough money to cover the cost of long-term care? (Long-term Care Insurance?)
  • What if I need short-term rehabilitation, where would I want to go for that care?
  • What do I need to have in place to make sure that if one of my “what if’s” happened my family would know what I wanted done?
  • What if _____ (Fill in the Blank)

I know that asking these questions can be awkward, however; if and when the crisis strikes, you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

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