Posts Tagged ‘Family caregiving’
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.
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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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
*** CEUs available with the National Association of Social Workers and National Association of Boards ***
Register HERE or by calling 512-847-6061
Mary (not her real name) had only left the house to make a quick run to the drug store. She didn’t like to leave her bed-bound husband alone, but on this rare occasion felt he would be OK for the ten minutes it would take her to pick up the prescriptions and get back to him.
Then someone rear-ended her car.
Mary didn’t think she was hurt, but she had to be taken to the local hospital to make sure there were no serious injuries to her neck or back. From her stretcher Mary was able to let the Paramedics know about her husband, and a call was made to her neighbor, who quickly went to his side and remained for the five hours Mary waited in the local Emergency Room to be assessed and released.
Mary realized she was lucky this time, and that she needed to make a comprehensive plan for her husband’s care should something happen to her, whether a bout of flu, a fall in the house, a loss of consciousness while away from home, or her unexpected death.
The love, care, and hard work Family Care Partners do is so important it can be hard to think about the possibility of something happening to you and your ability to care for your loved one. It’s because your job is so important that you must plan now to have a back-up plan for your illness, disability, or even unexpected death.
You can get assistance with this kind of planning from a Geriatric Care Manager, someone who is skilled at assessment and who could even step in to support you and your loved one in the event of an emergency.
You can find a Geriatric Care Manager in your area through the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.
Make your back-up plan today; please Take Care and Take Action!
Have you ever thought about Aging as a good thing?
We tend to think about Elderhood as a period of decline and loss, but Dr. Bill Thomas, co-founder of the “Eden Alternative” philosophy of care, has worked for years and all around the world to bring a new message about the gifts of Aging and Elderhood.
Elders and the people who care for them have a voice, but it is often not heard in a culture that values youth, productivity, and physical strength.
Listen to Dr. Thomas and his message for Oprah, then check out the beautiful videos that many ordinary people have posted to YouTube to honor the Elders in their lives!
Let me know what you think – can we embrace Aging and change the culture of care together?
A few years ago I was preparing for surgery, and a therapist colleague suggested I get some Mandala coloring books to color during my recovery.
Mandalas are circular designs, often associated with Hindu or Buddhist meditation, and the designs can be quite intricate. Once I started looking, I realized that many cultures from around the world have beautiful circular designs connected with their spiritual practices.
I was especially drawn to the more complex designs, and found that I felt serene and my mind seemed to calm while I filled in the tiny spaces with colored pencils, and it was also an easy, no-mess project to set aside if I got tired.
Once back at my caregiver counseling job, I started suggesting the idea to family members who often struggled to find ways to relax during their stressful days. Several were very intrigued with the idea and immediately recalled long-unused art supplies or neglected coloring books already on-hand.
If you are taking care of an older or ill loved one, or are just looking for a way to calm your mind in the midst of a hectic day, try coloring Mandalas. You can find the books through your local bookseller, local arts & crafts store, or print some pages online for free at http://www.coloringcastle.com/mandala_coloring_pages.html
Let me know if this works for you, too!
A lady at the garage told me there was a tornado warning in our area this morning, a rare thing in Ithaca. I couldn’t confirm it, although we are expecting thunderstorms this afternoon. It reminded me of another July day several years ago when a summer storm took down about a third of the huge, beautiful maple tree that graces our side yard, breaking our hearts, but thankfully, not our cars or our necks.
The same storm had blown over a favorite flowering tree in a neighbor’s farmyard. She and her husband had lived on their property their entire married life, raising cows, pigs, children, and grandchildren. Now Jean* was the full-time caregiver for Bob,* whose stroke left him in bed and unable to care for himself.
Whenever I visited, Jean lamented the loss of her tree, talking about how strong it had been, how tall, how sturdy. She just couldn’t believe it was gone, uprooted by the summer wind. Her grief for the tree continued; she mentioned it every time I called, and seemed unable to get over it.
Jean was a doting wife and meticulous care partner for Bob, and it was clear she was as madly in love with him as the day she met and married him. Bob was often confused, but always liked to flirt with female visitors, and in his occasional confusion would tell me that he’d been out cutting wood that day, or tending to the pigs. In his mind he was as strong and as busy as ever.
One day I watched Bob lying in his bed and Jean hovering over him, adjusting his blankets and teasing him.
It was in that moment that I realized I was looking at the Great Tree on the farm, the one that had been felled, and for whom Jean was grieving in the deepest, most hidden part of her heart.
*All names and identifying details in this story have been changed to protect privacy. Lisa Kendall is a clinical social worker who works with Elders and their Care Partners, and is an Eden at Home Educator.