Friday, December 20, 2013

Understanding Memory Loss

Learn the difference between mild forgetfulness and more serious memory problems in this 24-page booklet. Also discussed are various causes of memory problems and how to get help for serious memory loss.  Download your Free Booklet from the National Institute on Aging by clicking here.


You can also review one of our previous posts which discusses forgetfulness vs. memory loss.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

As Boomers Age, Planning Becomes Critical

They are called the Baby Boomers; The Sandwich Generation. They are the largest segment of our population; born between the years of 1948 and 1964. The tendencies for this group to relocate, delay marriage and have children later in life are creating complicated lifestyles, especially in relation to their aging parents.

Adding the care of an aging parent to your repertoire can be overwhelming to say the least. It is a fact of life that over the course of time, the roles of parents and their children become reversed and the younger must eventually care for the older. Those of the "Sandwich Generation" may find themselves frequently caring for children and caring for aging parents simultaneously.


The Baby Boomers are frequently children of first or second generation immigrants who experienced The Great Depression,World War II and the Holocaust. The Baby Boomers are children of survivors. This aging generation already has a strong foundation of survival and resiliency. However, this foundation is not enough when inevitable changes related to aging begin to take place. Aging can be accompanied by gradual physical, emotional, cognitive and financial decline. Sometimes decline or disability comes suddenly in the form of an accident or medical crisis. A certain amount of decline of your parent will take place. It's not something we like to think about, but it is inevitable. It is a fact of aging.

There are six basic long term needs that should be addressed with your aging parent. Building this plan is important in being more resilient when times of transition, loss and crisis occur in your family. The goal of the comprehensive plan is to preserve independence and quality of life for your parent. Each issue must be addressed before your parent can move on to the next "hierarchal" need.

(1) Medical: Have a trusted doctor actively involved in your parent's care and promote wellness. Be accountable for learning and understanding the medical issues at hand so you can help in the prevention or follow up of pertinent needs. If your parent is medically unstable, you won't be setting goals on anything but their survival or funeral plans.


(2) Psychiatric: Have a plan for coping with the possibility of mental health issues such as clinical depression or alcohol, medication or other abuses or addictions. When your parent is counting the hours until the next pain pill, setting up a financial plan will not be viewed as a priority.
A Little Massage Couldn't Hurt Now and Then 
(3) Physical: Physical issues encompass areas of home safety, accessibility and planning for residential alternatives when care at home is no longer the best option for your parent. Stay informed of the many creative options that are available to you in this area. If your parent is isolated because he or she is homebound and can't go up and down the stairs, your parent won't place a priority on creating ways to get to the social club.


(4) Legal/Financial: If your parent hasn't already done so, address financial planning, estate and tax planning, medicaid, insurance and competency issues. The overall goal is financial independence, the ability to pay the costs of long term care and advance direction related to health care . Without financial independence and advance directives (e.g. living will, health care proxy), your parent will not have the reassurance of getting the kind of care he or she prefers.


(5) Social: This encompasses your parent's hobbies, diversional activities, and areas of productivity. It is about connecting with others: family, friends, neighbors and community. It is about preserving individuality, complete with cultural and ethnic traditions. It is about learning and growing, no matter what age your parent happens to be.


(6) Spiritual: This addresses the ongoing development of your parent's understanding of what is important in life. This is the area where faith, hope and charity reside. It is where knowledge and forgiveness take place in the depths of our hearts.


Take this step as an opportunity to communicate and share with your parent. As you help with the planning, encourage your parent to be as independent as possible. People who see themselves as having an element of control always feel more secure and therefore will be more resilient when changes take place. Reassure your parent that the primary purpose of the long term care plan is to ensure that an element of control always exists, no matter what happens. Remain objective and, if you can't be, involve a third party to assist you in making these important decisions.



You will need to assemble a team of professionals to help you in implementing this plan. This selected team should consist of a physican, an attorney who understands long term care, a financial adviser and a geriatric care manager who can help you pull the entire plan together. This team will become an important part of the foundation that will help you and your parent to feel more secure and confident in facing the days ahead.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chivalry is Not Dead

Today I heard a story about a man and a woman who had been married 73 years.  She had cared for him for nearly a decade; he had Parkinson's Disease and complications.  One night they both went to the hospital by ambulance.  She had had a stroke that left her with significant impairment, but overall she was in much better condition than her husband.  In the morning the young doctor went in to check on his patients and the wife had died during the early morning hours.  The doctor was quite surprised, as her vital signs had been stable throughout the night.  "What happened?"  he asked the husband, who seemed amazingly calm and accepting.  "A gentleman always lets the lady go first."  The husband passed that night.  This was a true story.




Friday, September 20, 2013

Hiring a Care Manager: An Ounce of Prevention


THE END OF THE ROPE OFTEN COMES 
BEFORE THE END OF THE CHAPTER.  


We have a client in whose daughter hires us to take her mother to medical appointments; she 'just can't stand' being in her Mom's presence.  Never could.   Of course to us, her Mom is precious!  Funny!  Witty!  Likable!  We didn't have to grow up with her!  We counsel the daughter as a matter of course, and hope that the day will come where she can build the bridge of accepting her mother where she is "at".


This morning we heard about a tragedy in Mattydale NY;  an adult son is being charged with murder and arson.   Sometimes the need and greed for money is a primary reason for such things (this is the number one comment on people trying to determine an alibi).  Sometimes, however, it is caregiver stress.  

I recall a story years ago in Northern NY where a woman handcuffed her father to the bed while she went to work.  She was arrested for cruelty and neglect.  Granted, she did NOT do the right thing and apparently she did not know how or where to ask for help.  It is also possible that she was a loving daughter who was at her wit's end, weeping as she locked the chain. 


Anyone who has been a caregiver for any length of time knows how challenging it is 24/7, feeling hopeless with no end in sight. Here is another extreme example of what can happen under stressful home caregiving circumstances.   We are not condoning such crimes by any means, but we are trying to promote an understanding that caregiver stress can be so high that people can do things completely out of character at near-insanity to deal with it.  

It doesn't have to be that way.  You can hire a care manager if you 'just can't stand it' doing 24/7 shifts day after day, 365 days of the year.  We can support you, give you tools to deal with the situation and help coordinate appropriate care to give you the much-needed respite.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

When Someone You Love Is Dying

In my years as care manager and hospice social worker I have met a surprising number of people who have had Near Death Experiences. Some have "seen the light", one saw no light at all but floated in the darkest darkness in the most comfortable and blissful state he had ever experienced. One in his late 50's, continues to rage that he had to return to his earthly existence. Ever since his revival he has had an explosive temper. They blame it on his brain injury. He blames it on having to leave the State of Heaven.

It is surprising to me that not all of these people had faith in a higher power or a belief in an Afterlife.

Death can be a frightening thing. As one dying client said anxiously, "I've never done this before." The first time doing anything is always scary. Try to rest assured that throughout the process of life through death, you will be Taken Care Of.

Have faith that even though you may be an Earthly Caregiver for someone you love, there is Something Greater ready to take over when your loved one leaves.

There is a reason we typically enter this world crying and leave this world smiling.

Faith, Dear Ones.



Sunday, August 18, 2013

UNANSWERED PRAYERS


Lynette was reviewing her life with me. Now in her late 80's, she would be in her 60th year of marriage had her husband not died before their 30th year together. There has never been another man for her. 

www.twistedsifter.com
She recalled the circumstances following his death. The burial took place in his hometown quite some distance away. She traveled there by plane, accompanied by her daughter and her baby granddaughter. She found herself saying "Dear God, please let the plane crash. Let it go down." She did not want to live life without him.

She has now been without him as long as she had been with him. As she watches her great-grandchildren grow she thanks God every day that He did not answer her prayer spoken in her bleakest moment.


Sometimes we get discouraged when our prayers aren't answered, but there's generally a very good reason.  It may seem selfish and self-centered of her to have prayed that prayer on the plane that day, but when we are in the storm of loss and bereavement, it is natural to lose total perspective for awhile. 

Be patient with God and, by all means, be patient with yourself. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Active Grandparenting



More and more grandparents are finding themselves taking care of their children's children. Please visit a website I recently discovered as I was assisting clients in their 90's who were taking care of their great-grandchildren in their single digits.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Like Fine Wine... Old Age...


I am a weekend gardener. Here are my roses this morning... Look at the old and then look at the new..  How exquisite the aging petals are!!! Getting older can be quite beautiful when it is approached with grace.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

50 Ways to Reduce Stress at Home and at Work


50 Simple Ways To Reduce Stress at Home and at Work – From King'sCounty.gov

1. Touch, hug someone, hold hands, stroke a pet, make non-sexual physical contact with someone close to you, brush your hair.

2. Breathe, when you feel tense, take 10 slow, deep breaths in through your nose, out through your mouth.

3. Communicate, be honest with your Self and others. Ask for what you want. Express your true feelings when they occur.

4. Drink at least eight, 8 oz. glasses of good water a day. This flushes toxins out of our body.

5. See the humor in life. Laugh at yourself and life. Have fun and "play" in your life.

6. Meditation 15 minutes a day. Take time to relax, sit, breathe deeply, quiet your mind.

7. Be Human. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself and others. Slow down and enjoy being alive.

8. Communicate with friends. Spend time with each other. Share the good stuff.

9. Hug three people each day.

10. Quit worrying about the Future. Concentrate on what you can do NOW.

11. Make a TO DO list of your agreements for each month. Schedule both play time and free time, and SO THEM.

12. Write it down. Make notes to yourself. Make a list. Write special dates down on your calendar.

13. Allow yourself to say "NO". Make clear boundaries. Don't over commit yourself. Put yourself first; say YES to you.

14. Clean it up. Recycle old junk and papers. Clean your physical and mental house of old garbage.

15. Wear comfortable, clean clothes, that make you feel good about yourself.

16. Avoid doing anything to excess, keep things balanced.

18. Express and receive love as often as possible to yourself and others.

19. You always have choices in life. Re-Order your priorities. If you are not happy, choose something new.

20. Express your anger to the person involved the moment it's experienced.

21. Be honest with yourself concerning your fears. Ask for more information or assistance.

22. Crying is nature's way of releasing -- releasing stress, or expressing joy.

23. Change is constant. You can choose to change your choice anytime you want.

24. Trust your Self, and value your needs and choices. Follow your own intuition.

25. Live in the moment. Stop fantasizing about "What If ". Choose from what IS available, Now.

26. Feel good about yourself and your choices in life. Value what you Believe in. Walk your Talk.

27. Forgive yourself and others. Withholding Love does not nurture relationships.

28. When you do not love yourself first, you cannot be satisfied by loving and doing for others.

29. Make a commitment to expand your Mental, Emotional, and Physical well-being.

30. Your most valuable and limited resource is your time. Value it, so others will.

31. Obtain a written job description from your boss. Make any changes needed to keep your agreements.

32. Take pride in your work. You only get One First Impression!

33. Be responsible for your work. Do your best with every opportunity.

34. Only do your job. Do not get conned into permanently assuming another person's job responsibilities.

35. Do not play office politics. Be open and above board in all your relationships. Honor your Integrity.

36. Do not listen to, encourage, or spread gossip. It damages your credibility and others.

37. Talk with your co-workers about how to work together to solve problems.

38. Don't be a "fix it " person for other people's problems.

39. When you have a problem, go to the person who can solve that specific problem. Ask questions.

40. Ask questions. When you are not sure, or don't know, get information before taking action.

41. Contribute Become a solution provider for problems, not just a problem discoverer.

42. Leave work. When you go home, Go Home! Work can be a part of your life, not your whole life.

43. Put your family, career, and Self in perspective; know which is most important and nourish it.

44. Value your emotions. Feel your feelings. Allow yourself to express them appropriately as they occur.

45. Express your anger directly with clarity. Indirect or covert anger only prolongs distress and distrust.

46. When asked, always tell the whole truth to yourself and to others.

47. Respect your own ideas, and have respect for other people's feelings, ideas, and choices.

48. Exercise, walk, stretch, move about. Staying physically fit keeps you mentally fit, emotionally calm, and at peace.

49. Eat healthy foods and chew well. Don't eat just because you are bored, unhappy, or angry.

50. Experience and express joy at being alive, at having choices, and at the opportunity to explore loving relationships.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Are You CareGIVER or CareTAKER?

A man came upon a caterpillar, picked it up and put it in a jar so that he could watch it transform into a butterfly. As expected, the caterpillar made itself a cozy cocoon. Soon the man noticed that it was struggling to break through its silky covering. It upset him to think of the creature struggling. With a knife, he carefully cut through the cocoon to release the butterfly. However, the butterfly seemed to be disabled; it couldn't fly.

The man's compassion overwhelmed his ability to let go; to let things be. The struggle that the butterfly goes through to break through the cocoon is the very act that forces the blood to move through the wings; to develop the muscles. Without the struggle, a butterfly simply can not fly.

What's the point of being a butterfly if you can't fly? You may as well remain a caterpillar! A man shouldn't mess with God's design; it's designed a certain way for a certain purpose that can't always be seen or understood.

We must allow others to experience life as it comes to them without protecting them from it. In our struggle, our greatest growth lies dormant. We can support them without Taking Care of Them. We also need to be patient with ourselves, knowing that at the end of the struggle, things will be better.

Sweet surrender!


Image by Joanne Cacciatore

The Difference Between CARING FOR and TAKING CARE OF

A man came upon a caterpillar, picked it up and put it in a jar so that he could watch it transform into a butterfly. As expected, the caterpillar made itself a cozy cocoon. Soon the man noticed that it was struggling to break through its silky covering. It upset him to think of the creature struggling. With a knife, he carefully cut through the cocoon to release the butterfly. However, the butterfly seemed to be disabled; it couldn't fly.

The man's compassion overwhelmed his ability to let go; to let things be. The struggle that the butterfly goes through to break through the cocoon is the very act that forces the blood to move through the wings; to develop the muscles. Without the struggle, a butterfly simply can not fly.

What's the point of being a butterfly if you can't fly? You may as well remain a caterpillar! A man shouldn't mess with God's design; it's designed a certain way for a certain purpose that can't always be seen or understood.

We must allow others to experience life as it comes to them without protecting them from it. In our struggle, our greatest growth lies dormant. We can support them without Taking Care of Them. We also need to be patient with ourselves, knowing that at the end of the struggle, things will be better.

Sweet surrender!


Image by Joanne Cacciatore

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