|We can either look for the positive or the negative. Recently when I was with my loved one, he wanted a shave. It just seemed simpler to shave him myself than find someone else to do it. A first for me, and it did not go too badly. What small action can you take to make your own life, or that of someone else, better?|
Mar 31, 2015
Mar 30, 2015
|"We, like the birds, are meant to fly and sing -- that's all -- and all of our plans and schemes are twigs of nest that, once outgrown, we leave." Mark Nepo|
As humans, we do have plans and schemes. How many plans and schemes have you left because of caregiving? I closed a psychological practice to provide 24/7 care for my loved one, and then I opened it again to offset the expense when it was necessary for him to be cared for in a longterm care facility. I did not plan to do either of those things. Each of us, who are caregivers, give up some things to accommodate doing other things. Let's just make sure we are not giving up things that are critical to us.
Mar 29, 2015
|"The key to perseverance is having enough patience to keep trying options until we get what we want." Rev Dr Judy Morley|
Considering one's options is an important element of good mental health. A wise therapist many years ago told me that to be practicing good mental health, one should always consider at least 3 options in any given scenario. If one way does not work, try another. A social skill I used to teach and later published within a book on social skills was to try another way, if the way one tried did not work out. Try another way. How can this apply to caregiving? I think we must have the time to have the clarity of mind to consider if there is any other, better way to do any aspect of caregiving. If something is stressful and/or not working, consider how else it might be done.
Mar 28, 2015
|Friendships are so important in life. I think we literally cannot get through life unscathed without some true friends, with whom to share the journey. Who can you count on to have your back? Who can you count on to listen, hold sacred what you tell them, and not judge you? If I have 2-4 people like that in my life, and I do, I feel blessed. This blog is intended to be, not only a source of reliable information, but a support to any of us who are caregiving. Caregiving, by its very nature, is isolating. Let's be sure we have some true friends to support us during this time.|
Mar 27, 2015
|It is true. We will not remember each moment of every day, but we will remember those memorable moments. I was thinking today on my walk of a time when I looked down an aisle of seats, and my beautiful granddaughter was beaming back at me. It so touched my heart. I also have moments like that with my loved one. On one of my last visits, I was sitting with him as he slept in bed. He opened his eyes, and with clear lucidity said, "Hi, Sweetheart." It so touched my heart. When I am with him, I try to relive with him memorable moments we have shared.|
Mar 26, 2015
|""If you can maintain a minute standing on one foot, your're doing pretty well with balance." |
Erin Smith, Wellness Director
Becoming wobbly is one of the things that accompanies getting older. To offset that, and to prevent falls, one of the best practices is standing on one foot. I can do that pretty well with shoes on, but with my high arch and instep, which causes pronation, I tend to wobble trying to stand on one foot without shoes. With or without shoes, while brushing our teeth, watching tv, or on the phone, we can practice standing on first one foot and then the other -- to improve our balance.
Mar 25, 2015
|Dr. Oz says that meditation reduces stress, refreshes the body and makes it easier to sort out tasks and thoughts, lowers blood pressure, relieves anxiety and depression and can ease pain and increase mobility. If for no other reason, these reasons would be enough to encourage us to meditate. Dr. Oz suggests the website sharecare.com for help with meditation, if you are new to the practice. I try to meditate every day. It is what helps me be centered, serene, positive and efficient.|
Mar 24, 2015
|I have a tendency to isolate myself when overwhelmed. How do you cope with being overwhelmed by caregiving and all the tasks that make up one's life? Good friends are one antidote, and - being an introvert - I tend for a few, very close friends to a large number of acquaintances. To help me cope, I choose friends who talk about positive matters - even when talking about serious matters, who support me, who listen, who laugh, who have fun. What do you look for in friendships?|
Mar 23, 2015
|"Spring has come . . . ." anonymous|
Today on my walk I saw daffodils blooming in someone's yard. Wow. Daffodils on March 22. That is early for as far north as I live. But, we are having dramatically different weather globally, and we as a species will either learn to reverse it, adapt, or be shrugged off Mother Earth. Thinking of things in the longterm, and in global perspective, helps me not lose myself in the sadness of the end stages of dementia.
Mar 22, 2015
|It sometimes takes great courage to make a decision that closes a door, and yet, time and time again I have seen when I or others do make a decision that closes a door, and when that decision is based on love and respect for all involved, -- other, better doors open. It just takes the courage to close the first door. As caregivers, we will have many decisions to make. It is important to first consider if the decision will result in the highest and best interest of all involved. If so, then it takes courage to close the door to one choice, and have the faith other doors will open.|
Mar 21, 2015
|"The mind is a spider that, if allowed, will tangle everything and then blame the things it clings to for the web it wants to be free of." Mark Nepo|
How true. Our minds are a wonderful instrument, a computer that is capable of many calculations, reasonings, thoughts; but it is also capable of entangling us. All of us have been "lost in thought", and I have come to realize that it really is being lost. The present, what is before us, is not available to us when we are captured by our thoughts. Researchers say that 90% of our thoughts are redundant and negative. Is that any way to live? Let us, instead, take hold of our thoughts, choose positive ones, and be present to our lives.
Mar 20, 2015
|"Our strength will continue if we allow ourselves the courage to feel scared, weak, and vulnerable."|
Happy Spring! For much of the northern hemisphere, having spring arrive is very welcome this year, as it has been a rough winter. Just like the seasons, we must experience and honor all feelings to have more access to the better-feeling feelings. In the above quote, Melody Beattie says we will find our strength and it will grow, when we allow ourselves to feel scared, weak and vulnerable. That is true of all feelings. We experience more joy when we allow ourselves to feel deep sadness. We cannot have one end of the continuum of emotions, without honoring and experiencing the other end of the continuum. What this can mean for caregivers, and all humans, is to allow ourselves to feel weak and scared in front of the devastating disease that has our loved one in its grips. In doing this, we will find the strength to continue.
Mar 19, 2015
|"I have been learning that the life of a caretaker is as addictive as the life of an alcoholic. At the heart of this is the ever-present worry that unless doing something for another there is no possibility of being loved." Mark Nepo|
This is a pitfall I think all of us who are caregivers must avoid. It is easy to get our identity, our sense of purpose from caregiving. It is easy to feel a sense of purpose, and even a feeling of being loved for all we do. That is a very dangerous place to tread. All of us who are caregivers need to avoid doing it to feel loved. Yes, life has given us the task of caregiving, but, perhaps, it is to find out how to be true to ourselves - rather then be devoured by the tasks involved. To be loved for who we are is the ultimate goal. Caregiving is simply a task, one of many we have.
Mar 18, 2015
|You don’t have to buy into society’s false concepts of fading away and failing health as you get older. You can live vibrantly and radiantly no matter your chronological age. When you have the right information and guidance, youthful living can be yours and you can continue to thrive and create!" Dr. Christiane Northrup|
I have been listening to Dr. Northrup's free videos the past week. There are four of them one can access directly through the internet. Dr. Christiane Northrup (email@example.com). Well worth listening to, in my opinion. She gives specific tips on being healthy and vibrant and for how not to buy into culture's version of aging. They are called Ageless Goddess, but there is information for both men and women. As caregivers, we need to find ways to support our own health and well being.
Mar 17, 2015
|"Purposeful action is knowing what we want, and then doing what makes us happy to get there." Rev. Dr. Judy Morley|
We hear from other sources that it is important to know what we want. Sometimes I know what I want by experiencing what I do not want -- like being with people who talk too much and do not listen, or being in a situation in which things are being done without efficiency, or being with people who focus on the negative. All of this is helpful because it helps me know what I do want: people who are skilled at balanced and positive conversation, being in situations that are running smoothly and efficiently, being where everyone is treated with respect. Sunday I gave a talk on love. The Course in Miracles says that there is only love or fear. So, I can know if I am not experiencing enough love, I must be entertaining fear -- and I can stop entertaining it and return to love. Then I can take the action because I will know what I want, and I can step toward it doing what makes me happy to get there. If you are of Celtic heritage, and even if you are not, Happy St. Patrick's Day. I hope you do something today that makes you smile.
Mar 16, 2015
|Caregiving can bring out a capacity for us to love beyond what we have previously. How many of you have previously helped someone in and out of a wheelchair? I did have that experience when I worked with children with disabilities, but, it took 5 of us to safely get my loved one out of his wheelchair and into the dentist chair -- I was not used to an adult who is now unable to help or stand or move his own body. Such a risk of him falling, or one of us getting hurt! It is in facing situations like that that our own love capacity is grown -- toward ourselves and others. We can become better people by being caregivers. It is a matter of choice.|
Mar 15, 2015
|"Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle." Mark Twain|
How many times have we, as humans, cursed something, instead of seeking answers? Perhaps we curse the dementia, or whatever has taken over our loved one and our lives. Perhaps we curse the financial circumstances that care for our loved one has created. Perhaps we curse the fact that we do not really have freedom -- with the constriction that caregiving places on us. Better, it is, to seek answers, light the candle - so to speak. If we feel constricted, find ways to be more free. Rather than complain about caregiving, look for the goodness within it. Rather than hate the illness your loved one has, consider it might be the perfect life plan for him or her. Rather than hate caregiving, consider what qualities the responsibility is bringing out in you. Light the candle.
Mar 14, 2015
I love when I get to see evidence of karma. We all have people who harm us. Some years ago I had a woman cause me professional harm because of the stand I took that I knew from my training was in the best interest of the children involved. Yesterday, I read in the paper where she has been found guilty in court of receiving money from the government under false pretenses. It is not that I wish her harm, but I do wish (and I know it is in each of our own best interest) that we experience the consequences of our actions. Karma: we can know it is a universal law, and we can celebrate when we see it in action.
Mar 13, 2015
|"You must do the thing you think you cannot do." Eleanor Roosevelt|
As caregivers, we will be called to do those things we think we cannot do. I have always been squeamish about things medical people do, and, yet, as caregivers, we will find ourselves doing some thing for another's body that we never dreamed we would do. We will make decisions on behalf of the other in areas we did not consider before. We will continue to show up for the other person, despite the fact that the person we knew and loved is so little there any more. We will do things we thought we could not do, and we will be better people for having done so.
Mar 12, 2015
|"If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I would spend six hours sharpening the ax."|
Preparation to avoid problems. It is the basis of behavior management -- whether our own behavior or that of others. If I want things to go smoothly, I prepare. I am giving a talk at a church this Sunday. To make sure that goes well, I have collaborated with the person who does the bulletin, with the musicians who are playing so that my message and their music interweave and support each other, I am giving thought and structure to what I will present -- the title is "Love is Everywhere", and, lastly, I will make sure I am centered and serene. What does this have to do with caregiving? Everything. The more I prepare ahead of time, the better things go. Today is my loved one's birthday. I have ordered the cake, bought the plates/forks/napkins, have his gift, will pick up my daughter and granddaughter and we will go celebrate with him. Tomorrow he has oral surgery which cannot be avoided. I have arranged transportation, communicated multiple times with the care facility, and will arrive at the surgery center early to meet him. Preparation is the key to serenity.
Mar 11, 2015
|"We survive . . . . . . and then we die." Ojibway Elder|
Well, that is one way to look at life. Truly, everything goes through a cycle: birth, growing into maturity, decline, and death. All we have to do is look at nature around us to see this process. Or, we can look at life. It is not lost on me that my beautiful granddaughter was born into the time that my spouse is dying. Life in, and life out. The same will be true for us. For all of our lofty dreams and goals, at some point we will die. Let us make sure that our life day-to-day is so good that death is irrelevant.
Mar 10, 2015
|"Every human is a stranger to her/his greatest strength and mightiest power, until the test of a great responsibility, a critical emergency or supreme crisis in life calls it out." Orison Swett Marden|
Caregiving can be called a great responsibility, although it dims in comparison to what great figures of history have encountered. Abraham Lincoln's greatness was called out from within his situation of freeing the slaves and holding the Union together. Although small in comparison, our greatness can be called out by the caregiving that has been cast upon us. How we show up, how we take care of ourselves while taking care of someone else, how we treat our loved one -- all can bring out the best of who we are. It has long been a passion of mine to develop to my potential. When I am at my best within this situation, I know caregiving is helping me to do just that -- to become more then who I previously was -- by dealing with the crisis of caregiving.