Posts Tagged ‘caregiving’

Gratitude and Meaning: What’s Important to You and Your Elders?

What gives your life meaning? Do you know what is meaningful to the Elders in your life? This is a wonderful question to ask at the upcoming Thanksgiving Day table! Do so with an open heart, really listening to the answers and withholding judgment. Remember that “Meaning” is unique to each of us, and may change over time. Read the rest of this entry »

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

How do you define “Well-Being” for Elders and Caregivers?

What does "well-being" mean to you? We often equate well-being with health, strength, and the vigor of youth. When these fade, whether through illness, injury, or advancing age, society sees us (and we may see ourselves) as unable to truly have well-being. Read the rest of this entry »

The Bittersweet Season: Grief in the Midst of the Holidays

Many of us enter this holiday season with both joy and sadness in our hearts.

We remember, and long for, loved ones who have died, even as we celebrate with gratitude the abundance that fills us and the friends and family around us. Some of us are caring for frail or ill loved ones, or are dealing with health issues of our own. Anxiety and depression mark the season for some, and poverty and isolation make a mockery of the good cheer that is expected at this time of year.

I cannot heal these wounds, though I fervently wish I could. I try, through my work and in my personal life, to ease the pain where I can.

What I can do is share some of the little things that seem to make a difference for me as a bereaved mother, and hopefully inspire some of your thinking about what is meaningful for you.

My own list of simple pleasures helps create the serene mood of the season that I value and make space for sadness. They reduce, rather than add to, my stress. They help me honor both my joy for the season and my grief, and to remember the many who are suffering as I express gratitude for what I have.

Here’s my list, along with some thoughts about how it might work for you:

Remember your loved ones who have died – don’t try to shut out memories of your loved one, thinking that will help you get through the season. Instead, schedule time to focus on that person (or people) and let whatever feelings are present come to the surface. You may light a candle, make a donation in memory of your loved one, or attend a “Blue Christmas” or “Longest Night” service.

These are services specifically for people who are grieving or suffering through the holidays. (When I googled “Blue Christmas Service,” I got lots of good information. You may be able to find one near you, or create your own ceremony to share with others or experience alone).

Every year since my daughter’s death I have participated in the Worldwide Candle Lighting sponsored by The Compassionate Friends. It’s a way to connect with other bereaved parents and siblings around the world, and with those who support us. We send a wave of light around the globe! I invite you to join us this year on December 14th at 7 p.m.in your time zone.WCL 2014 CMYK

Have eggnog – I know this is fattening but a little bit of this wonderful stuff is redolent with the flavor of the holiday.

Sit by the fire – I am very fortunate to have a gas fireplace, and it’s the feature I most love about my house. Instead of a fireplace, you might light a cluster of candles. All winter holidays share the idea that there is light in the midst of darkness.

Play holiday music – I have some special albums that always soothe my spirit. Most are on the order of the “Winter Solstice” and “Celtic Christmas” variety, but the one holiday album I must listen to every year is the one John Denver made with the Muppets.

It’s not as corny as it sounds – there is some very moving music there, lightened up by more typical Muppet antics. Music seems to reach into the hurting places in me and release some of the pain.

Decorate the tree – I skipped this one year and regretted it. It seems like a pain to get everything out and assembled, only to have to put things away again, but I love the ritual of placing each ornament and remembering who or where it came from. It’s a bittersweet time but a way to honor the past while being fully in the moment. Then I love to look deeply into the branches at the lights and the colors. It’s magical!

Your tradition might be to light a Menorah, celebrate the Solstice, or to otherwise honor your Spirit. These rituals can be a tremendous comfort for many. When they cause bitterness or pain, you can respectfully decline and do what works for you at this point in your journey.

Connect with friends and family – Visits are wonderful, and if they don’t happen for whatever reason, a phone call helps. It’s been too difficult for me to send Christmas cards for several years, but I am grateful for Facebook and the way it allows me to interact and share small moments, photos, jokes, and encouragement.

There are also online support groups, and may be a group in your area. For bereavement support, check with your local Hospice or Hospital.

If you are alone, please consider going to a community-hosted meal, or volunteer at a nursing home. You have gifts to share as well as to receive, and your service to others is a wonderful way to connect.

Have a cry – the season carries hope and longing, joy and sadness. Let the tears come when they will.

Make some cookies – I used to make dough and roll out dozens of cookies. While I don’t have the time or energy to do that now, I’ve learned that the smell of baking and the pleasure of a warm sugar cookie can be achieved with the refrigerated, slice-and-bake kind.

Read the story of the birth of Christ – this is important to me, and I recognize your own selection may be from another faith tradition or secular source. My father always read “The Night Before Christmas” to us before we went to bed on Christmas Eve, and I’ve maintained the tradition. Another favorite is “The Christmas Carol,” and we watch our favorite movie version of this every year.

Drink hot chocolate – Enough said.

If you celebrate Chanukah or practice an Earth religion, you will have your own list. I encourage you to treat yourself to a little gift each day, something that helps you feel special and cared for. It may be a flavored lip balm or gloss, a favorite candy bar, or a “guilty pleasure” spy novel or romance. Take a moment to reflect on the miracle of lights, perhaps by having your own menorah for private contemplation.

If you can, treat yourself to a massage, invite a friend for coffee, or connect with a counselor to help you express your feelings and develop a strategy for coping.

If your feelings overwhelm you or you think about suicide, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

What keeps you going? How do you balance the need to honor your grief with the expectations of the holiday season?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Blessings of the Season to you and yours!

Rest and Renewal for Caregivers, in Only 10 Minutes!

In 2011, I wrote a blog post about the importance of regularly taking time away from caregiving, often referred to as “respite.”

 

At that time, I suggested that in every day, we should have a respite of at least 10 minutes or so, and in every week we should plan for an hour away, if at all possible.

 

Increasing stretches of time call for more time away… in a perfect world!

 

In the years since that post, I’ve had the privilege of presenting workshops about how to structure a mini-retreat, and I’ve continued to talk with care partners about how this method of respite works for them.

 

I’ve also learned from the latest brain science that even very small breaks, when given our full attention, can have a significant positive impact on our health and well-being!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/alicepopkorn/3059251051/

by AlicePopkorn via Flickr

 

Jennifer Louden’s “Woman’s Retreat Book: A Guide to Restoring, Rediscovering and Reawakening Your True Self –In a Moment, An Hour, Or a Weekend,” helps us think about what we hope to get from our retreat, and how to create one that will really work.

 

She reminds us that you don’t have to have a lot of time or money, nor do you have to actually leave town (or even the house) for a break to refresh and renew your mind, body, and spirit.

 

This is good news for care partners!

 

The basic elements for a retreat include the opening, the retreat itself, and the closing.

 

The opening of the retreat includes an act or ritual to indicate that you are stepping away from your usual day, and entering into a sacred or special space.

 

It might include a prayer or other reading, getting up from your desk, going to a corner of your home suitable for quiet contemplation, or ringing a bell.

 

Once inside this retreat space, which Ms. Louden calls the retreat container, you engage in an activity you’ve planned, and which fulfills or contributes to your intention for the retreat.  If you’re feeling stressed, you’ll want to connect with a feeling of relaxation.  If you’re tired, you may want to do something that will energize you!

 

This could be a few moments of silence, mindfully listening to your breath.  It could be taking out your journal to write some lines about how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking, at that very moment. If you like to draw, your retreat space could hold some art supplies for you to play with.

 

Perhaps 10 minutes of wild dancing will provide an energy (or attitude) adjustment.  I used to do this with my daughters at the end of the school day, and we found it vented all sorts of cranky energy, and made us laugh.  Really hard.

 

Ideally, a retreat will connect with all of the senses, so consider doing something for the body (breathe, stretch, or handle a cool, smooth stone); for the sense of smell (fresh flowers, cinnamon, eucalyptus, a vanilla or pine scented candle); your sense of hearing (the gentle tinkling of a bell, music, or silence); and vision (have something pleasant to look at).

 

The closing is often a mirror or reversal of the opening ceremony.

 

If you started with a bell, end the same way.  If you lit a candle, blow it out.  You are signaling the end of this special time, even when it’s only been ten minutes, and a return to routine.

 

These simple steps bring our awareness to a mental and physical space where we can renew our energies, manage stress, and keep fit for the Elder care journey.

 

Jennifer Louden’s book is a true treasure trove of ideas, providing important information on how to prepare for a retreat of any length, how to create emotional and physical containers for your experience, and consider what to do (and not do!) on your retreat.

 

You’ll want to have your own copy of this book; you can purchase it now on the Crossroads Counseling Bookstore by clicking HERE.

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How do you rest and renew yourself?  What works best for you?

What will you try today?

Leave your comments and share your experience with others!

 

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Lisa Kendall is a geriatric social worker with a private counseling and consulting practice.  She teaches, trains, and facilitates a variety of different retreats. 

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.

“Share Your Wishes” for Advance Health Care in the New Year

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:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25422151@N04/4078233716/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Photo by Sicamp via Flickr

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. 

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

Eden at Home Trainer Certification Workshop: September 25-27, 2010

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: 

September 14th

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 education@edenalt.org

 

*** CEUs available with the National Association of Social Workers and National Association of Boards ***

 

Register HERE or by calling 512-847-6061

Rural Gold

Photo by Rory Martin via Flickr

When Caring leads to Love

Is it OK to love your clients?

I say yes.

Before you report me to the State Ethics committee, I’m not talking about romantic entanglements or inappropriate sexual contact or even the violation of healthy boundaries.

But in the health care field we’ve always been told “don’t get too attached” to the clients that we care for.  But doesn’t this go against human nature?

Heart Leaf

Photo by Niffty via Flickr

Most of the nurses, social workers, home health aides, and other allied health professionals I know have gone into this work because they care about people and want to help them.  When you provide intimate, day to day care for human beings, the kind that eases suffering and reduces loneliness, and you hear someone’s personal stories, share lots of laughter and a few tears, you naturally come to love them. 

And they love you, too.

Dr. Bill Thomas, founder of The Eden Alternative, has written about this in his book, “What Are Old People For: How Elders Will Save the World.”

He proposes that instead of denying the love that health care workers have for their clients, organizations acknowledge and support it.

To do so would ensure that such attachments are healthy and appropriate, and provide support for a worker’s grief when a beloved client dies.

Today, the love and affection workers feel is often forced underground, leading to stress and isolation for the worker, and could ultimately contribute to burn-out and turn-over.  

Can you imagine how relieved our health care workforce might be to have permission to love, and have support and supervision to do so every day, on the job, in the open?

How much might this improve care for the ill and our Elders?

 

Lisa Kendall is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with advanced certification in clinical gerontology who works in home care, has a private practice in Ithaca, NY, and is an “Eden at Home” Educator.  You can get more information on The Eden Alternative and Eden at Home at www.edenalt.org

Contact me if your organization would like to host an “Eden at Home” Certified Trainer Workshop!

 

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