Hang onto your Joy

I was listening to a Joel Osteen message about Joy and how nothing can take our joy from us.  This means that no issues with a spouse, illness, loss of job or abilities or challenges associated with caring for an elderly loved one can take our joy away from us. We can however, give it away.

This is quite a revelation!  Even though I have a conceptual understanding of my control over my reactions to people and situations in my life, I was daily giving my joy away to inconsequential events such as being stuck in traffic, fear of running late for a meeting, worry about personal and family health issues.  Now you may think that worrying about health issues is not inconsequential.  Any health issue that you or a loved one is facing is most certainly of consequence.  What is not, however, is the act of worrying about these challenges.

Worrying does nothing to change the traffic pattern, fear doesn’t change what time you get to your meeting and most importantly, worry does nothing to change the outcome of the test to see if the cancer has spread.

Worry and fear can negatively affect your personal outlook, relationships with loved ones and health (which is ironic as that is the very thing you’re worrying about).  We allow worry and fear to steal our joy from us and for what?  Something we have little to no control over.  The test results will be what they will be, worry and fear will not change them, but could hamper our ability to make good decisions about next steps and treatment options.

Studies have shown that there is a strong association between positive health outcomes and people with strong social well-being (happiness & joy that comes from within).  This is great news!  This means that you can have a positive effect on your health by adjusting your focus to things that are positive and joyful!

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy to change your focus to become joy-filled, but there are some steps that can help you start your joy journey today!

  • Focus on the positives – spend time with people who fill you with joy :family, friends, children, grandchildren.
  • Disengage from “drama” people in your life – you know who I am talking about. The people who can turn any story into drama (i.e. – a dog jumping on their leg becomes a vicious attack).  These people especially focus on the potential negative aspects of your situation.  Politely turn down their offers to hang out and focus attention on positive people.
  • Create a Joy Journal – get in the habit of writing down positive experiences EVERY DAY! At the beginning you may have to really stretch to find them (i.e. – I got out of bed today).  After a while you will start to notice that there are more positives in your life than you realized!

I heard this saying “Worry does not change tomorrow’s burdens, but steals joy and power from today”. SO TRUE!

Take hold of your joy TODAY!  Don’t give it away no matter what the circumstance.  Things may be stressful, life can be challenging, but you have the power to find the joy in life no matter what else is going on around you.

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A Tribute to My Mom – Happy Mother’s Day

mom

I have been blessed to have the best Mom in the history of Mom’s. Maybe I’m a bit biased (just a little), however; if you were to ask my friends from childhood through today about my Mom they would probably tell you the same thing.

me and mom

 

Most women have the ability to become a Mom (I unfortunately I was not one of them), however; I believe that some people are just born to be Mom’s. They have some kind of special DNA which makes them innately more gifted at the job than others. My Mom is one of those women born to be a Mom.

If you were to ask my Mom about herself she will talk about me, my sister, her grandchildren and son-in-laws without ever actually mentioning anything about herself. She always seems to be amazed at what a great family she has never realizing her love and support has been the cornerstone of our family.

She has always been my hero; overcoming obstacles that life has thrown at her with strength and dignity (see One Word can Change Your Life). She is the kind of person who will show up for you when others are walking out on you. She will give you the shirt of her back and has literally given me the shoes off of her feet. She has taught me the meaning of unconditional love.

So in honor of her I want to share life lessons from my Mom.

  • A note of encouragement can make a huge difference in someone’s day (see Encouragement by Mail)
  • Always show up for others (even if you don’t think they deserve it)
  • Make family a priority
  • Family and forgiveness go hand-in-hand
  • Keep moving forward even when it’s hard
  • Unconditional love cannot be earned, it is given freely whether or not you think the other person deserves it
  • Encouragement is a gift you can give to anyone at any time
  • Be nice to everyone (AKA: kill them with kindness)
  • If someone doesn’t like you or want to be your friend it’s their loss not yours

Thank you Mom for all the love, support and encouragement you give so freely.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

For more support visit AlongComesGrandpa.com

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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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