Posts Tagged ‘Caregiving’

Random Acts of Kindness for Caregivers…

When my mother-in-law became ill and could no longer be home alone, there was no question I would leave my job and care for her. When my father was diagnosed with cancer there was no doubt I would fly or drive from Pennsylvania to Florida as often as possible to help my mother with his care. From the minute my father was put into Hospice care until he passed away I personally cared for him.

Dad and Me

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The Forgotten Women…

 

Forgotten Women

I am thinking today of some forgotten women. My ‘day’ job is the reason I am thinking of them. These women were at one time loved and cherished wives, daughters, sisters and friends to someone. Many of them were responsible for blazing the path for all of us by becoming the first female doctors, lawyers and business owners. I am thinking today of the forgotten women that once lived glorious happy hour, dinner party lives and were the leaders of the wood- paneled station wagon brigade and served as the heart and soul of their families.

station wagon wood panel

I think of a woman that lives in a ‘too do’ retirement community. For 30 years she was the mistress of a ‘big time’ political figure. She was also a successful doctor. Today she huddles in fear of the outside world and lives with the mission of accumulating enough food for Armageddon. Her condo walls are lined from floor to ceiling with cases of canned sardines, peas and store brand sodas.

I think of a woman, who for years took care of her terminally ill sister and then her aging parents, never once complaining. She never had a social life or any kind of life that was her own. She now lives in fear, alone in a big house with dementia and a senile old dog. She is scared of death, strokes, fires and burglars.

I am thinking of a one-hundred and one year-old socialite who believes and will debate you to exhaustion on the subject that America went to hell in a hand basket the minute we sent girls to college.

I think of a ninety-seven year old, southern belle who was the proud ‘woman’ that stood by her famous man, raised two very successful and well grounded children and she still lives on her own within a retirement community. She kicks my butt power walking every time.

I think of a woman who worked through the war and then supported her husband through business school. That man went on to become a successful retailer. He worked so hard to give his wife and children the world that he ended up in an early grave. This woman now lives in one of the worst ‘facilities’ I have ever seen. Not the least expensive by far just the worst.

I think of another woman with a drop-dead gorgeous home, glorious gardens and a closet full of designer clothing. For her career she chose to be a professional volunteer. Whatever the latest cause, she could be counted on. Now she cannot remember her name. Her husband, with his own issues, screams at her and pushes her because she cannot remember how to run the washing machine or to shut the refrigerator door. She cowers in fear. I suspect he has always been abusive.

4016095-elderly-woman-with-worry-in-her-eyes-and-demeanor

I think of a mother with dementia living in a nursing home. She whines for months to her daughter. “I just don’t understand why they always hit me.” The daughter questions the staff and she is told it is the dementia. The daughter finally purchases a nanny cam and is completely wracked with guilt when the images clearly show the aides had been hitting, actually torturing her mother because her nightmares disturb their smoking breaks.

In facilities all over America, there are amazing mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They have been placed in these facilities by well meaning and loving family members. In the beginning, the family visits often. Then life gets in the way. The new normal sets in and the visits become more and more infrequent. When they visit again and find their Mom rocking in the corner and peeing in her shoes, they call me, or someone like me to ‘spend time’ with their loved one.

eye-crying

This ‘day’ job breaks my heart every day. It is also such a blessing. Whatever or wherever these women came from one thing is for certain, they all have their own stories to tell. Stories of scarlet fever outbreaks, slavery, world fairs, their first ride in an automobile, the first time they used a telephone or watched television. They speak with wonder of the installation of plumbing and electric in their homes. They talk of the endless summer hours they spent as little girls wandering around fields or lying in the grass daydreaming of handsome husbands, adorable children and fancy parties in their futures.

My ‘girlfriends’ may not remember my name or their own name for that matter but they do remember where they came from and they miss their families. They live to tell stories of their grandchildren’s talents and accomplishments. My heart hurts for them because their grown grandchildren never visit.

I will never forget these special women, with whom I have shared my deepest secrets and in return, they have shared their rich histories with me. A special place has been born in my heart for these forgotten ladies of yesterday who have taught me so very much about myself, life, compassion and redemption.

Have you forgotten anyone?

 

 

Caregiving and Stress

Caregiving and Stress 

Nearly ten-million adult children over the age of fifty are caring for their aging parents. With ten-thousand people turning 65 every day and with the trend expected to continue through the year 2020 the numbers are expected to skyrocket and so will the stress.

More and more women are willing to take a financial hit to care for their aging parents. I left my job for eighteen-months to care for my mother-in- law and most recently have been caring for my father long distance. Leaving my job and family in Philadelphia and traveling to Florida to help my mother care for my father is stressful, it takes a lot of planning and I couldn’t do it without a lot of help and good information.

“I’m pleased to partner with Midlife Boulevard to bring you this important public service information about National Family Caregivers Month.”

Midlife Blvd badge

My friends at Midlife Boulevard have been an online lifeline, full of inspiration as well as valuable information throughout my father’s illness.

It is important to build a network when you are caring for a family member, especially long distance. Enlist neighbors, church members and friends. They may be willing to pick up groceries, do home repairs or provide meals. Ask friends and family members that are not in the area to make scheduled calls, send cards and handwritten notes and care packages. Many people want to help and if you are like me, when someone offers it is so hard to say yes and then tell them what you need. You need to accept whatever help, is offered.

If you are considering hiring outside help, ask everyone in your network online and in real life for recommendations. Even if you can only hire someone for a few hours a week, those few hours will give you peace of mind.

 

Another way to alleviate stress before it happens is to create a list of where things are in the house in case of an emergency. You want to list the location of the electric panel, the water shut- off valve, have an emergency contact list that includes family to be called (in order) doctors, plumber, electrician, preferred hospital,  medications, location of extra keys, pets names and schedules etc… It is a lot of work but in an emergency this information will be priceless.

The most important thing you can do for your loved one as their caregiver is to take care of yourself. Accept or ask for help so you can rest, get out for a walk or just to get out and have lunch with a friend.

My Parents in Florida

While caregiving it is easy to get lost in the business. Remember to sit with your loved one and just be. Watch an old movie, listen to their favorite music with them and reminisce.  These are the memories that will matter most to you.

Another valuable resource for me has been the community of caregivers and experts put together by AARP aarp.org/caregiving.

 

http://youtu.be/Ggjc8u_1ccc     Spoon feeding caregiving video

 

Let Them Eat Cake! 12 Things you can do to improve your Relationship with Aging Parents while Caregiving…

 

 

Caregiving for our elderly parents can be one of the most anxiety inducing, stressful times of our lives. It can also be a time of all consuming sadness and another unwanted lesson in letting go. It will also be a time when we struggle with our siblings and extended families as well as with our own emotions.

Book signing 4

There are a few simple things we can do to lessen the stress and make the experience a more rewarding one for both of you.

At what other time in your life will you be so close with someone who literally has one foot in Heaven (hopefully,) or wherever you believe, they are headed.

Right now your hours may be extremely long but the days are quickly growing shorter and shorter. Choose your battles with your parent and your siblings wisely. Ask these questions before battling:

  • What will it matter at the end?
  • How will it affect his/her quality of life?
  • Is there a compromise that can be made here?

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Caregiving and Stress-The A-to-Z’s of Mental Health

 

 

For the month of April I am participating in the annual A-Z Blogging Challenge. The Challenge was started by author/blogger, Arlee Byrd. http://tossingitout.blogspot.com

Each day of the month (except Sundays) we will post something based on that days correlating letter. Some of us chose a theme and others are winging it. My theme is the A-to-Z’s of Mental Health, Raising Awareness. It is a topic that is very close to my heart. I hope you find the posts interesting and you will comment and share the posts everywhere. To see a list of all of the participants or for more information-click on the badge over there to the right>

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