Posts Tagged ‘Caregiver’
I am thinking a lot in this season about loved ones who have passed, and in particular about my daughter, Diane, who died almost 17 years ago in a car accident.
Through much of the year I am able to stay busy with meaningful work and beloved family, but there is a bittersweet aura around the winter holidays that forces me to look at my loss and care for my broken heart.
I know others are grieving too. Perhaps you’ve lost a parent, sibling, or child, or know someone who has. Most of us have lost friends. Perhaps you are caring for a loved one whose illness triggers feelings akin to grief.
While we encourage people to celebrate the joys around them, hold fast to memories, and embrace what is present in our ill loved ones’ lives, this is a time to also honor those who have gone before and those who love them.
Every year I remind folks about the Worldwide Candle Lighting hosted by The Compassionate Friends, an organization that offers peer support groups for bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents.
The Compassionate Friends group in Binghamton, NY probably saved my life after Diane’s accident.
I encourage you to visit their website at www.compassionatefriends.org, and to participate with me in lighting a candle for our children who have died.
This annual ceremony starts at 7 p.m. on the second Sunday evening in December, and by lighting a candle in your time zone, wherever you are, we create a wave of light that ripples around the world for 24 hours.
This year’s Candle Lighting is on Sunday, December 8th.
Thank you to all who have supported me with their encouragement, prayers, and good wishes.
Thank you to all who are doing the hard work of caring for ill loved ones.
It helps to know we do not walk alone.
Thanksgiving is a very special American holiday that carries many memories and not a little nostalgia for the past.
I remember riding in our family car with my sisters to visit Grandparents for Thanksgiving, and singing “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go!” It’s a warm memory, infused with laughter and excitement.
Memories are at the heart of this holiday, which is focused on gratitude.
This year for Thanksgiving, you may want to consider a shift in your traditional way of looking at your Loved One who is living with dementia, and the ways they contribute to your family.
Consider your Elder’s strengths, and the gifts they offer, and actively express your Gratitude for them.
Instead of just remembering with sadness the grand meals your Elder used to make, be sure to experience gratitude for the memories, the recipes, and the ways your Loved One contributes to this years’ experience. It will give her great pleasure to “teach” her favorite dishes to the younger set, and to help at whatever level she can and in a way that ensures success.
Instead of focusing on illness, have the family create a list of gifts your Elder has given over the years and continues to give. For example, a grandchild might write “I am grateful for the way Grandma has helped me with college, and for her encouragement in my studies.”
Share this list with the Elder in a packet of notes, so she can refer back to them. This will make the moment last!
Focus on Laughter; it’s the greatest gift we can share among family and friends.
Consider a smaller group to cut down on noise and confusion for your Loved One. Your Elder’s strength might now be to enjoy more intimate gatherings.
Provide a place for the Elder to step back and rest whenever she feels the need. This might be a comfortable room where she can nap, or a second living space, such as a family room or den, located away from the bustle of dinner preparations or rowdy football games.
Remember the other care partners in your Elder’s life, and show your gratitude for them. A card of thanks is a valuable gift to home health aides or the neighbor who keeps the walks cleared in the winter.
Stimulate memories and conversations by starting a story with, “I remember when we (did such and such…) It was always fun to be with the cousins,” instead of asking the Elder “do you remember…?” The former is more likely to generate shared stories, while the latter can lead to frustration and increased confusion.
Seat your Elder next to someone who knows them well and is patient and kind. They can watch for needs the Elder may have difficulty expressing, such as “pass the rolls, please!” or “may I be excused from the table.” They can slow the conversation down so the Elder can participate. Sometimes a little more time is all that’s needed.
Perhaps different family members can take turns attending closely to Grandmother or Grandfather, 30 minutes or an hour at a time. This ensures that no one feels left out of that rowdy football game!
Some family holidays are day-long affairs. Is this what works best for your older Loved One now, or should she come for the part of the day that is most meaningful and manageable for her?
Speaking of “meaning,” a guideline to help you decide what and how much to do for the holiday should be to ask what is meaningful for you, your Elder, and your family. Stretching yourself to do extra cleaning or make everything from scratch might leave you feeling too tired to enjoy the gathering.
Where can you cut back on work, or delegate tasks, while keeping the most meaningful parts of your time together intact? Is there a ritual your family does for Thanksgiving that you want to honor? Figure out how your Elder can participate easily.
For example, a family who has always had each member read a verse or passage at the table might shift the custom to showcase the teens or the younger kids. If your Elder’s reading is good, but recall is poor, she may be OK with reading something rather than reciting from memory.
What ideas do YOU have for enjoying Thanksgiving with your family, and for adapting to the needs of a Loved One who is living with dementia?
Please share your comments below, and have a Blessed Holiday.
Dementia of any kind, including Alzheimer’s disease, can be very frustrating for families or professionals who are trying to provide care.
Early in the disease, people living with dementia might have difficulty finding the word they mean to use, or forget names of close friends and dates of important events.
As the disease progresses, it may become even more difficult to express feelings or make needs known to others. People who have trouble expressing themselves become frustrated and even angry.
It’s easy to make two mistakes when this happens:
First, we might assume that the use of the wrong name or incorrect date means that the person has forgotten their loved one or the event. In reality, they may know who and what they’re trying to discuss, but the correct word doesn’t come to them.
We’ve all had this happen, haven’t we?
Second, we may see angry behavior as coming from the disease, as opposed to a very natural frustration at not being understood.
Dr. Al Power’s book, “Dementia Beyond Drugs: Changing the Culture of Care,” talks about several different kinds of communication problems that can accompany dementia, and challenges us to change how we look at and deal with them.
You’ll want to take a look at his book, which focuses on care in residential settings such as nursing homes, as the principles apply to Elders who live anywhere.
Naomi Feil, a social worker who created “Validation Therapy,” teaches us to acknowledge the feeling that’s being expressed, rather than to take on the logic (or apparent illogic), of what the person who lives with dementia is saying to us.
This approach works well for routine communication as well as for those situations where someone appears to be delusional.
For example, when Mary says she wants to see her Mother, who has been dead for a long time, it does no good, and may do harm, to remind Mary that her mother has been dead for many years.
A more helpful approach is to acknowledge the feeling that is being expressed.
If the person seems sad, you can say, “it sounds like you’re missing your Mom. Could you tell me a little more about her?”
This approach honors the person and helps them feel heard and understood. The invitation to talk more about the mother can lead to wonderful stories, and help the Elder feel less alone.
You can learn about Naomi Feil’s approach at her website; just click HERE.
An easy book to get you started with this technique is “Talking to Alzheimer’s: A Simple Way to Connect When You Visit with a Family Member or Friend,” by Claudia Strauss. It’s a small book written for everyone, with easy to understand examples of what to say, and what not to say.
Truly hearing an Elder who lives with dementia is a powerful way to honor them and help them connect with you and ensure that all their needs, physical and emotional, can be met.
Please be aware that if you purchase books from the above links, a small percentage of the cost will go to support this website.
Be sure to leave your name and e-mail in the box at the top left of this page, so we can make sure you receive new blogs and updates about resources! You will also receive my free report on “The Art & Science of Elder Care: 12 Tips to Help you Transform Your Caregiving.”
Lisa Kendall is a clinical social worker and clinical gerontologist in private practice. She teaches for the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute and is an Educator for The Eden Alternative. Lisa speaks on Aging and Elder Care issues around the country.
A lovely Elder I knew, (I’ll call her Mary), was really struggling with the care needs of her husband, who was living with a number of debilitating illnesses. As the holidays approached, she became more and more anxious about how to manage the many tasks and roles she had already taken on, and wondered how to work Christmas into her “to do” list.
One of Mary’s traditions was to bake a special kind of cookie, one that took several hours and many steps. That year, she just couldn’t face the chore.
When I asked her what the most meaningful part of this holiday tradition was for her, she didn’t hesitate to answer that it was spending time with her college-age grandsons.
Looking at this activity from the perspective of what was most meaningful, Mary quickly realized that the heart of the event was spending time with those growing young men.
She knew that they enjoyed being with her, too, and confided that her hungry family wolfed down the treats and probably never gave a second thought to the amount of time and preparation she’d invested in baking.
It was easier for this Wise Elder to change how she managed the task once she’d identified what was most important and meaningful. That year, she chose a much simpler recipe, and enjoyed her special time with the grandsons. Mary had freed up precious time and energy for the other things she really wanted or needed to do.
What is the heart of this holiday season for you? If you are feeling overwhelmed, prune away the things that don’t bring you joy. Consider changing the way you do things so you can enjoy the holidays feeling more at peace and well-rested.
The SIDS Foundation has created a nifty chart that an help you identify what and how to include in your Holiday celebrations, what things you can change, and what things you might choose to let go this year. Try it out below.
As you work with this information, consider that important question: what is meaningful?
And let me know if you made any changes, and how it’s going for you!
Holiday Stress Assessment for CaregiversHOLIDAY JOB LIST Would the holidays be the same without it? Is this something you want to do differently? Do you do it out of habit, tradition,free choice, or obligation? Is it a one person job, or can it be shared? Who is responsible for seeing that it gets done? Do you like doing it? Decorating the tree. Contributing to special funds. Baking holiday cookies. Exchanging holiday cookies. Making long lists of what needs to be done. Going to office or school parties. Making homemade holiday gifts. Sending holiday cards. Buying something special to wear for the holidays. Going to cocktail parties. Doing your holiday shopping. Seeing people you never see any other time of the year. Helping or encouraging your children to make some of their gifts. Having the house clean … clean! Decorating different rooms of your home. Providing “quiet-together” time for immediate family. Buying gifts for co-workers and teachers. Attending special or traditional church services. Attending special activities for children. Preparing special traditional foods.
©1995-1996-1997-1998-1999, SIDS Network, Inc. < http://sids-network.org >All rights reserved. Permission to use, copy, and distribute this document, in whole or in part, for non-commercial use and without fee, is hereby granted, provided that this copyright, permission notice, and appropriate credit to the SIDS Network, Inc. be included in all copies.
Mrs. Jenson is a full-time care partner for her husband, who has had a severe stroke.
It’s very hard work, but she has some help in the home, as well as wonderfully supportive family, and she is able to get out for church and social activities. Every so often, she takes trips with her community group, and there is an annual family vacation, too.
Because she has health problems of her own and sleeps poorly, her children and grand-children encourage Mrs. J. to take even more time for herself, to take off for a weekend or more to really recharge, but Mrs. J. feels she just doesn’t want to do that and is uncomfortable with the pressure from her well-intended loved ones.
Part of my job is to encourage family care partners to get enough rest, so I want to hear more.
Mrs. Jenson teaches me something important when, together, we think through how she sees balancing her own need for rest and respite with her engagement as a care partner for her husband.
What we come up with is a kind of formula that is already mostly in place in the Jenson household. It looks like this:
- Every day, take a brief, but pleasurable, respite (10 minutes)
- In every week, schedule an hour or two away (special lunch with a friend, quiet time at a museum, a walk, etc.)
- Every month, take a full day for yourself
- In every quarter (every three months), set aside a truly special weekend for rest and renewal
- Annually, be sure to schedule a week for vacation!
These guidelines will look different for everyone, but could work in some way or other for all of us, whether we are caring for an ill loved one, trying to manage work/life balance, or manage our own stress and wellness.
The main point Mrs. Jenson wanted to get across to her children was that she didn’t need to leave her home or take a long stretch of time to feel refreshed.
I think this is a common myth, and one that keeps us from taking advantage of everyday opportunities to find a “little calm center” in our otherwise too-busy world.
I will be facilitating a workshop on how to create a mini-retreat on Monday, July 18th at Lifelong in Ithaca; I hope you’ll join us to learn more and to share your own wisdom about this!
Finding Rest and Renewal:
How to Create a Mini-Retreat to Soothe Your Spirit, Ease Your Body, and Calm Your Mind
A Retreat has been defined as “an act or process of withdrawing, especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable;” or “a place of privacy or safety or refuge.”
Many of us know we need time away, but are unsure of where, how, or when to create effective Retreats. In this hands-on workshop, participants will learn how to structure personal mini-Retreats that last from ten minutes to a full day, select meaningful activities, and comfortably transition out of the Retreat, taking powerful and lasting lessons into daily life. Further resources for planning your Retreat are included.
This workshop is intended for both experienced and new retreatants, and is especially designed for those who are seeking better balance and well-being in their lives.
Register for (1823) Finding Rest and Renewal: How to Create a Mini-Retreat to Soothe… ($10 fee) at Lifelong
by clicking HERE or call Jillian Pendleton for more information at (607) 273-1511
Are you a member of Lifelong?? Join today!!
Lisa Kendall has worked for over thirty years as a health and wellness educator and mental health counselor, and has led retreats for a variety of groups. Lisa maintains a private therapy practice specializing in women’s health, aging & caregiving, chronic illness, stress, depression, work/life balance, and grief.
This is one New Year’s resolution you must make and keep, without delay!
Everyone over the age of 18 should plan ahead for their medical care, and consider who will speak for them if they can not speak for themselves.
It’s not enough to have a signed Health Care Proxy form (in some states, this may be called a Power of Attorney for Health Care); many people sign the forms then misplace them, or never have the important conversations with loved ones that give guidance about values and preferences.
“Sharing Your Wishes” is a comprehensive approach that can walk you through four steps that will ensure that your loved ones understand your health care choices.
The steps in this approach include:
1. Think about what is important to you and how you want to receive care
2. Select a person to speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself
3. Talk about your health care wishes
4. Put your choices in writing
The form itself is easy to complete and doesn’t require a notary or lawyer. It can be difficult to talk about these issues, though, especially if you or a loved one is dealing with a chronic or serious illness.
The Sharing Your Wishes website has easy-to-use materials and videos that fully explain each step and support you and your loved ones in having these important conversations.
Many counties in Central and Western New York have local Sharing Your Wishes Coalitions where more materials and support can be found; their names and phone numbers are listed on the website.
If you are outside the area, contact your local Bar Association or Area Agency on Aging for more information.
Please visit the Sharing Your Wishes website at www.sharingyourwishes.org for more information about this important topic today. Make sure you and all the adults in your life have appointed a Health Care Agent, and have started to have these important conversations with your loved ones and with your health care providers.
P.S. Don’t hesitate to consult with a counselor if you need more support; dealing with chronic or terminal illness is very stressful and you don’t have to deal with it alone.
Peace and Wellness to you and yours in the New Year!
Lisa Kendall is a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice in Ithaca, New York. She is a trainer for the Tompkins County Sharing Your Wishes Coalition.
Sharing Your Wishes is sponsored by the Community Health Foundation of Western & Central New York.
I stumbled onto a music video this morning that really spoke to everything I’ve loved about working with Elders and their care partners for the last 28 years. It was so sweet and so beautifully done, I had to sit down and find a way to share it with you.
This story shows with great poignancy the deep connections that often form between Elders and those who care for them, and how both benefit from the relationship.
Genuine, loving care is both given and received in this tender relationship!
Loneliness, helplessness, and boredom, the three plagues of Elderhood described by Dr. Bill Thomas, co-founder of the Eden Alternative, are vanquished for both the Elder and the young man in this lovely story.
I wasn’t able to embed the video here, but I believe it is worth your visit away from my site to see Brett Eldredge’s music video, “Raymond” at youtube.
Just grab a few tissues, click HERE, and come back to comment on your reactions to the video. You can also visit Brett Eldredge’s website - this talented young man is raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.
Thanks for spending some time with me today; please visit again!
Lisa Kendall is a clinical social worker and clinical social work gerontologist in private practice in Ithaca, NY. She is an Eden at Home Educator committed to changing the culture of care for Elders and their care partners. Learn more about Eden at Home and the Eden Alternative at www.edenalt.org
Three months of careful planning by many faithful gardeners has yielded a new harvest: twenty-four new Eden at Home Certified Trainers!
Congratulations to the remarkable group that attended the three-day workshop hosted by Community LIFE in Tarentum, PA, this past weekend; it was an amazing time of shared discovery and intense community-building.
This passionate group of committed people came together to learn about the Eden philosophy and how it can be used in overcoming the three plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom that cause so much suffering for Elders and their care partners. We shared stories, challenged perceptions of aging, and explored the ten-principles of the Eden philosophy.
We learned how to conduct Eden at Home care partner workshops and initiate real culture change.
Every participant arrived with an open heart and mind, ready to share from their wisdom and to learn from others.
As this workshop’s Eden Educator, I am humbled by and grateful for the opportunity to serve these fine people.
I wish each new Certified Trainer every blessing as they move forward with implementation of the Eden philosophy in their families, organizations, and communities.
Together, I know we will improve the quality of life for our Elder care partners and every member of the care partner team!
Congratulations, best wishes, and thank you!
It CAN be different!
Lisa Kendall is an Eden at Home Educator and geriatric social worker in private practice in Ithaca, New York. Subscribe to Lisa’s blog about self-care for every member of the care partner team by clicking the link at the top left of this page. Learn more about Eden at Home at www.edenalt.org
Coming to Pennsylvania!
EDEN at HOME
Creating Quality of Life for Care Partner Teams
Training Certification Workshop
Host: Community LIFE
702 Second Avenue, Tarentum, PA
September 25-27, 2010
Eden at Home Educator: Lisa A. Kendall, LCSW-R, CSW-G
Register NOW! Space is Limited
Working together, empowered care partner teams help to ensure the independence, dignity, and continued growth and development of our Elder care partners and each other.
What does EAH Trainer Certification offer?
After training, Certified Trainers inspire care partners, both within their organization and out in the community, to:
- Reframe perceptions of aging and disability
- Work together to reduce stress & burnout
- Build strategies on strengths, rather than limitations
- Develop meaningful connections with each other
- Create opportunities for all to give as well as receive
- Communicate effectively & thoughtfully
- Share joy, hope, wisdom, spontaneity, & respect
- Prevent loneliness, helplessness, & boredom for all on the care partner team
To learn more about Eden at Home, join us for a free informational webinar:
Click HERE to register
Who may want an EAH Certified Trainer on staff?
Non-profit organizations, state agencies, home health organizations, faith-based organizations, Area Agencies on Aging, hospitals, hospices, senior centers, care management, adult day services, independent living communities, and long-term care organizations with home health outreach or an interest in supporting ongoing needs after rehabilitation.
What is the workshop cost?
Early Bird: $385 per person until Sept. 14, 2010
Group: $360 for multiple attendees from same organization
Regular Fee: $435 per person, after Early Bird deadline
Fees cover 3 days of training, our scripted EAH Trainer’s Guide, additional reference materials, and food.
Questions? Contact Meredith Burrus at email@example.com
*** CEUs available with the National Association of Social Workers and National Association of Boards ***
Register HERE or by calling 512-847-6061