Posts Tagged ‘elder care’
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.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Hosted by Lifelong, Ithaca, NY
Facilitated by Lisa Kendall
When we or our loved ones need some assistance due to illness or injury, we find that traditional models of care can create as much distress as the illness itself, leaving us feeling powerless and frustrated.
“Caregivers” report acute stress and exhaustion, and “care receivers” feel they have little to offer because of their physical or cognitive challenges.
When we advocate for the well-being of the whole care partnership rather than seeing the needs of caregivers and care receivers as separate, we create empowered care partner teams that ensure the independence, dignity, and continued growth and development of everyone involved.
Learn about person-directed care and how to make care partnerships work for you, and tap into an international movement to change the culture of care for Elders and their care partners in this two-hour session.
Call Lifelong at 273-1511 to register for this informative presentation.
Receive your complimentary report on How to Assemble Your Care Partner Team at www.carepartnerconnection.com
Lisa Kendall is a clinical social work psychotherapist and clinical gerontologist who has worked with Elders and their care partners for over 30 years. In addition to her private practice and public speaking, Lisa is an Educator for The Eden Alternative and teaches for the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute. Contact her at email@example.com for more information or to schedule a training.
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.
One of the things that keeps me working in the aging services field is the camaraderie of my colleagues. They demonstrate a tremendous commitment to and appreciation for Elders and their care partners, an awareness of the Elders’ stories as sacred treasures to be held by us with care, and an intuition that the health care system in which we all work is terribly broken.
It was my honor to meet with such a group of dedicated peers recently, at the “Best Practices in Home Care Showcase.” The event was hosted by the Steuben County Office for Aging in the Southern Tier of New York, the Steuben Senior Services Fund, and NYCONNECTS. Attendees included representatives of home health organizations, case managers for senior apartments, advocates for people living with developmental disabilities, the faith community, and wise Elders.
They are all seeking better ways to serve Elders and their families, and thirsty to work together in a way that honors the need of everyone involved to grow.
It can be a big challenge to introduce the philosophy of The Eden Alternative to a group, when time is limited and the important work of culture change is the goal. With the “Eden at Home” initiative, we are helping people recognize how culturally pervasive ageism contributes to the three plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom; introducing a new definition of care as well as the concept of empowered care partner teams (with the Elder at the center of decision-making); and showing how the antidotes to the plagues can be applied in home and community-based settings.
The talk culminated with a showing of a powerful, person-directed “video care plan,” with thanks to Haleigh Jane Thomas and her parents, Dr. Bill and Jude Thomas.
Even with limited time, these concepts speak for themselves. Knowing there is a philosophy that provides a framework for every member of the team, (Elder, family, and professional alike), to speak a common language and truly make the shift to person-directed care can invigorate a community.
There is a lot of buzz in Steuben County about the possibility of hosting a Certified Eden at Home Trainer workshop in 2013, and many at the “Best Practices in Home Care Showcase” indicated they would attend.
This three day workshop cultivates culture change agents for participating organizations, while providing the tools needed to offer Care Partner Workshops in our agencies and for the wider community.
Have you participated in an Eden at Home training yet? With the vast majority of Elders living in their own homes, in retirement communities, or with family members, the implementation of The Eden Alternative principles can accelerate the pace of culture change and transform care for all of us.
There are currently Certified Eden at Home Trainer workshops planned in Las Vegas, NV, and Toledo, OH. Find out more HERE
Lisa Kendall is an Educator for The Eden Alternative, teaches for the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, and manages her own counseling and consulting practice in Ithaca, NY.
Like many people at year’s end, I am both looking backward to reflect on all that has happened, and forward to the opportunities and blessings of a new year.
We often generate a list of resolutions for the fresh start we feel with the coming of a new year, but just as often leave our good intentions behind after a short burst of “self-improvement.”
This year, I’m trying a completely different strategy.
This year, I will strive every day to do two simple things to bring my past and future together into a single moment of BE-ing.
First, I will cultivate a practice of gratitude. I will start and end my day by meditating on the many blessings I have in my life. This will focus me on abundance rather than scarcity, and helps keep me humble.
Second, instead of a daily “to do” list, (I am a great list-maker!), I will take a moment each morning to jot down what and how I want “to BE.” This idea comes from Elyse Hope Killoran, whom I heard speak at a recent conference presented by Casey Truffo.
When Elyse suggested that I think about what good service to others feels like, the following words came to mind: grateful, joyful, abundant, light, happy, accomplished, and balanced.
By consciously choosing to BE these things, I make decisions and act from that place, and my vision for my professional practice and for my private life becomes a reality.
Elyse recommends that we change the traditional idea that if we DO certain things, or HAVE what we want, we will then BE the person we’ve always wanted to be.
She teaches that we BE first, then DO. Only then will you HAVE what you want and need.
Elyse says, “If we have a big enough why, the hows and wheres will take care of themselves.” I am reminded of Stephen Covey’s encouragement to work on BE-ing, to cultivate gratitude, to see the world as abundant, and to live a life according to personal principles. He develops all of these ideas in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.
Creating a “to BE” list might be one of the most powerful ways to start the New Year!
Will you try this practice and let me know how it works for you?
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