Posts Tagged ‘Aging’

The Number One Killer of JOY (and final Domain of Well-Being)

Welcome to the final installment in a series of blog posts on The Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being(TM). Read more about these domains by clicking HERE!

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I often write about the holiday season with a reminder that many people do not experience the holidays as joyful. Indeed, people can suffer throughout the year from loneliness, helplessness, and boredom (the three plagues discovered by Dr. Bill Thomas), and the heightened expectations of the holidays surely exacerbate the plagues.

“Joy” is the last (but never least!) one of the Seven Domains of Well-Being as defined by The Eden Alternative, and we all need Joy for true well-being.

Joy seems like an emotion we all understand instinctively, even though who or what gives us Joy may vary from person to person.

Our capacity for Joy also seems to vary. I was thinking the other day about a remarkable trip I made with my Mom and one of my sisters a few years ago. We’d gone to New York City to see the Van Gogh exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Starry Night” was on display, and I couldn’t wait to see one of my very favorite paintings.

While I truly appreciated the special exhibit, what I recall most about that day was my emotional reaction to two other things I saw in the museum.

The first was an installation of Islamic art, and the rich jewel-tones and intricate designs of textiles, tiles, and other objects took my breath away.

The second was a permanent exhibit of an Egyptian pyramid, an elegant structure that had been taken apart and reassembled in a spacious hall. As I sat on a bench nearby, I felt I could smell the ancient sand and stone, and a pervasive sense of awe enveloped me. I sat for a long time, appreciating peaceful BE-ing in that light and airy space.

The beige and cream pyramid touched me as deeply as had the vivid hues of Islamic art.

I know that being in the presence of such beauty inspired a sense of awe in me, but I clearly see the Joy I was feeling, too, and that’s the main emotion I experience when I recall those wonders.

We’re surrounded by a universe of natural and man-made wonders, but don’t always feel Joy-full.

What can get in the way of such joy?

  • A sure-fire way to choke out Joy is to keep moving through life at a break-neck speed. Today is Black Friday, and even at home I am inundated with loud ads, busy e-mails, and confusing codes. It’s hard to notice the little things, the simple pleasures that truly bless us with Joy, amid such a hubbub.
  • We might miss out on joy if we don’t have the freedom to go where we want to, or to be with companions who will share and hold the experience with and for us. Helplessness and Loneliness, two of the plagues, can easily kill our Joy.
  • Painful memories may lead us to believe that we can’t, or don’t deserve, to feel Joy.

In my work as a therapist and clinical gerontologist, I meet many people who experienced abuse or neglect as they were growing up. They took in messages that they were unworthy, unwanted, or unsafe.  These messages and the difficult emotions that surround them can flare when we face special challenges such as our own health problems or the illness of a family member.

Looking back over the domains of well-being, it’s easy to see how abuse or neglect can damage any of these areas. Remember that the Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being™ include:

  • IDENTITYbeing well-known; having personhood; individuality; having a history
  • GROWTHdevelopment; enrichment; expanding; evolving
  • AUTONOMYliberty; self-determination; choice; freedom
  • SECURITYfreedom from doubt, anxiety, or fear; safety; privacy; dignity; respect
  • CONNECTEDNESSbelonging; engaged; involved; connected to time, place, and nature
  • MEANINGsignificance; heart; hope; value; purpose; sacredness
  • JOYhappiness; pleasure; delight; contentment; enjoyment

Unfortunately, painful memories are more common than we think. The good news is that there are sound approaches to foster healing, no matter how long ago we actually had hurtful experiences.

I will be writing more about the impact of trauma across the lifespan, and the importance of healing during the stage of life known as Elderhood, as I prepare for a presentation on the topic at the next International Conference of The Eden Alternative.

If you haven’t done so yet, please stay connected by liking my Facebook page: click HERE. You’ll always get a link to new posts that way.

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You can also register now for the 8th Eden Alternative International conference!  Please visit HERE for more information.

And finally:

Healing Painful Memories during Elderhood

Listen to my talk on trauma-informed treatment approaches and strategies on WRVO public radio by clicking HERE

 

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Lisa Kendall supports well-being in her work with Elders and their family members, as well as with professional care partners.  She is an Educator and Mentor for The Eden Alternative, has a private counseling and consulting practice in Ithaca, NY, and teaches the Fieldwork in Gerontology course for the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute.

You can reach Lisa at (607) 351-1313, or via email at crossroadscounseling@hotmail.com

 

 

Connectedness and Well-Being for Elders

Welcome to the sixth installment in a series of blog posts on The Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being(TM). Read more about these domains by clicking HERE!

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From the time we are born, we need to feel connected to other people.

Babies who don’t have a sense of connection to their caregivers can suffer from neurological changes that impede their growth, development, and health over the course of their lifetime, and they may even die from “failure to thrive.”

In this brief video, Dr. Edward Tronick shows how distressing “disconnection” is:

 

The truth is, we survive as individuals, families, communities, and as a species because of the myriad ways we support, connect, and cooperate with one another.

The mythical ideal of “independence” that prevails in the west leads us to shun or shame those who appear to be “dependent.” Ageism and able-ism keep us from seeing the reality of “interdependence” that underlies human existence.

We also tend to crave connection with places, things, and ideas. We cherish “home,” and we treasure objects that represent our various connections. We hold close our philosophies, religions, and world views that we feel connect us with others, with nature, and with the universe.

Who or what satisfies your own need for connection? Does the care you give to others interfere with, or enhance, your sense of connection? What about the Elder in your life… is there a sense of genuine connection to people, places, and things at this time in their life?

Please share your thoughts, and connect with our community!

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Lisa Kendall supports well-being in her work with Elders and their family members, as well as with professional care partners.  She is an Educator and Mentor for The Eden Alternative, and has a private counseling and consulting practice in Ithaca, NY.

You can reach Lisa at (607) 351-1313, or via email at crossroadscounseling@hotmail.com

Elder Care: The Dignity of Choice

Welcome to the fourth installment in a series of blog posts on The Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being(TM). Read more about these domains by clicking HERE!

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My first job working with Elders was as “social services designee” in a nursing home in 1983. I learned many lessons from the Elders there, and many from older, wiser, and more experienced colleagues.

One lesson in particular is really burned into my memory.

I must have been in an Elder’s room with one of the nurses, or maybe we were out in the hallway. She took me aside and told me that even if the only decision a person living with frailty or dementia could make was how they wanted their toast cut, it was important to always offer choice.

She said it was about ensuring that a person has “autonomy,” necessary to preserving human dignity.

Wow.

It might sound like a small thing, but that lesson really made an impact on me.

Autonomy is one of the domains of well-being, as described by The Eden Alternative.  We have a human need to have choice, to know that we have some control over our lives.

Autumn Tree SunsetThroughout my career I’ve tried to tune in to how physical or cognitive changes might narrow our choices.

If our ability to drive safely is compromised, “taking away the car keys” can be painful and humiliating for Elders and family alike.

It can be a challenge to find the choice in that situation, when something so essential to our independence feels threatened.

How we talk about these difficult decisions can make all the difference. We need to think about how we recognize the need for autonomy, and then work to fulfill it.

In the case of making a different decision about transportation, we must offer as many choices as possible under the circumstances. In our community, we have a bus service for Elders, and also a volunteer driver program. Offering the Elder their preference won’t completely “fix” the loss of one’s own car, but at least it preserves the opportunity to choose for oneself from the possible options.

Autonomy also means that Elders, or the people who receive services from an organization or live in a community, should have a say in how they experience services, or in how their home is operated.

Does your local home care agency have Elders on the team that interviews applicants for staff positions?  Why-ever not!?!

We can also preserve choice by thinking about health care decision-making and choosing someone to speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself.  This is a powerful way to ensure your preferences are honored, your voice is heard.

I wrote about this a few years ago; you can check out my blog on planning for future health care by clicking HERE.

Person-directed care doesn’t mean that we can offer any and all choices, regardless of the consequences. It does mean we look at realistic parameters, confer with the person who is most affected by changes, and find ways to offer the dignity of choice.

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Do you have stories about how you’ve been able to preserve choice, even when options have become limited? This can be a tricky area, so sharing what’s worked in your circumstance can be extremely helpful to others!

Perhaps you’re struggling with this now. Please let us know what issues are challenging you, and we’ll invite the  community to share stories that may help!

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Lisa Kendall supports well-being in her work with Elders and their family members, as well as with professional care partners.  She is an Educator and Mentor for The Eden Alternative, and has a private counseling and consulting practice in Ithaca, NY.

You can reach Lisa at (607) 351-1313, or via email at crossroadscounseling@hotmail.com

Changes at the Crossroads

Lisa PixlrI think I’m having growth spurt.

Before you check out my “middle-aged middle” and start giggling, let me say how grateful I am to have so many opportunities to learn and grow, professionally and personally.

(Now you can giggle!)

I continue to learn every day from my clients and colleagues, family and friends, and my “tribe” of followers on this blog and on my Facebook page, Lisa Kendall Counseling.

In the past year I’ve also taken advantage of some powerful professional development opportunities, including:

  • Webinar series on brain science, mindfulness, and meditation offered by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM).
  • An online course offered by NICABM to help mental health and other wellness professionals learn how to use technology to have a bigger impact and greater influence in the community.  I am now on LinkedIn and Twitter (@LisaKCounseling), and am working at getting up to speed (slowly) with both.  I’ve also created a second website to offer educational materials for all members of the Elder care partner team at www.carepartnerconnection.com.
  • My own team now includes a Virtual Assistant, (thank you, Darby Miller!), who makes it all possible.
  • Coaching with the Soul Guide, Dr. Pamela Moss helped me clarify my mission and purpose, and to let go of limiting thinking!
  • An online course on how to get my book published, with therapist, speaker, and author, Bill O’Hanlon. I’ve made an important shift from saying “Someday I’ll write a book” to “I’m writing a book!”
  • I’ve made new friends and expanded my network of like-minded colleagues, good and smart people committed to person-directed care and the importance of self-care for each of us.
  • I am studying “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing” (EMDR) with Andrew Seubert from Clear Path Healing Arts Center.  It’s an approach to healing trauma that is already making a difference in my clinical practice.

There are some big events coming up, too:

  • Next week I’m heading to the Eden Alternative’s International Conference in Nashville, TN.  Two years ago I was a speaker there, and I’m looking forward to the flow of being a participant.   More learning!  More friends!  More collaboration!
  • Later in May I’ll be at the first Care Management Summit at Binghamton University, speaking about “care partnership” and what it means to create a culture of meaningful care.

In the coming weeks I’ll post more about what I’m learning and applying, and invite you to join our conversation about how we can promote well-being for each of us, no matter what our age or role.

Thank you for being a part of this tribe (our own Care Partner Connection!); I would love to have you invite your friends and colleagues, too!

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Lisa Kendall is a social worker with certification in clinical gerontology and over 30 years’ experience in aging and Elder care.  Lisa has a private practice in Ithaca, NY, teaches for the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, and serves on the Cornell University President’s Advisory Council for Work and Family Issues.

 As an Educator for The Eden Alternative, Lisa facilitates trainings around the country to improve the quality of life for Elders and their Care Partners, and is a popular speaker for both professional and family audiences.

 

Care Partnership: Creating Meaning in the Giving and Receiving of Care

Monday, November 18, 2013 

10AM-12PM

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 theiLisa's Kitchenr 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 lisa@lisakendallcounseling.com for more information or to schedule a training.

Best Practices in Home Care Showcase

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.

“Grandmother” by magnificentlife via Flickr

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.

The Wisdom of Elderhood; Fact or Fiction?

There is a common cultural ideal that the older one gets, the wiser one grows.  Perhaps that is why we say “there’s no fool like an old fool” — by the time you’ve reached a certain age, you’re supposed to know better.

But is it true that with age comes experience, knowledge, and wisdom worth sharing?

Dr. Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, and Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College, has been applying scientific research to this question and the results can be found at “The Legacy Project: Lessons for Living from the Wisest Americans.”

The practical advice that Dr. Pillemer and his team collected from over 1500 Elders aged 70 and over is reported on the Legacy Project website, and will be published in a book to be released this fall.  It confirms the idea that Elderhood is a time of continuing growth, and that Elders have much to share with us if we will take the time to listen.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougbelshaw/4598949523/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Photo by Doug Belshaw via Flickr

Please visit the Legacy Project site by clicking HERE to learn more, to make your own contribution, and to browse through the lessons learned on a variety of life issues. 

As Dr. Pillemer says, the Wisdom gathered includes gems on “how to be happy on a day-to-day basis, the secrets to a successful marriage, tips on raising children, ways to have a fulfilling career, strategies for dealing with illness and loss, and how to grow old fearlessly and well.” 

I don’t know the average age of the Elders who shared the advice learned over a lifetime, but if the average was 80 years, and there are 1500 contributors, that’s 120,000 years of Wisdom from which we all can benefit!

Here’s an ever better idea — Why not visit an Elder today and ask them how they’ve coped with life’s challenges, what they wish they could do differently, what their secrets to happiness are?  

Make that phone call you’ve been putting off – your favorite Aunt is waiting to hear from you, and to share her Wisdom! 

Many thanks to Dr. Karl Pillemer and his research team for taking a strength-based approach to Elderhood, and for sharing these results in such a generous way.  

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Lisa Kendall is a clinical social work psychotherapist and clinical gerontologist in Ithaca, NY.  She is an Eden at Home Educator with The Eden Alternative, serves on the President’s Council for Family Life at Cornell University, and is teaching the Gerontology Fieldwork seminar for Ithaca College this fall.

Elder Stories: A Veteran’s Day Rememberance

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkadog/

Photo by Beverly & Pack via Flickr

One of the most gratifying aspects of my work with Elders and their care partners has been the opportunity to listen to their stories.

On this Veteran’s Day, I am remembering the very special men and women I’ve known who have entrusted me with the stories of their military service to our country.

Those tales were always deeply embedded in that person’s life history, and included stories of everyday existence and extraordinary loss; the finding of love and founding of family; the formation of lifelong occupations, friendships, and deeply held convictions.

Some of the Elders had written their life stories and wartime experiences into formal or self-published books, and I was privileged to see the world through their eyes as I read their words and shared in their reminiscences.

Others told me the secrets they’d long held next to bruised and broken hearts, and now I keep these safely next to my own. 

Still more brave men and women had now slipped into a wordless place, and their daughters and sons became keepers of their stories, I the grateful audience and reverent witness.

On this Veteran’s Day and on all days, I join the nation in humble gratitude and awe for the dedication and service of the members of our Armed Forces, past and present.

Thank you.

The True Heart of Caregiving

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

A Bountiful Harvest for Eden at Home

Eden at Home Certified Trainer Workshop, Tarentum, PA

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. 

Family Blackberry Harvest

photo by Cristian Bortes via Flickr

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

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