Posts Tagged ‘elder care’

Caregivers and Servant Leadership

In honor of National Caregiving Month, I am proud to present a guest blog from Chris MacLellan, a friend, colleague, and fellow advocate for family care partners.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way ~ John C. Maxwell

In November we celebrate National Caregiving month and it is always a good time to reflect and reconnect with good friends along the road during our Caregiving journey.  As I read through many of the national organization who are running promotions this month to signify National Caregiving month, I started to think about my role as a family Caregiver and what being a family Caregiver meant to me. Being a family Caregiver taught me a number of valuable lessons, but the most important lesson I learned was after Caregiving was over, and that is importance of self-care.   It is common for family Caregivers to lose themselves in the midst of Caregiving because our focus is so intense on our Caree.  Now 18 months after Richard made his life transition,  I am learning how to take better care of myself, (It is an up hill battle, that I will eventually win!)

Just recently I have come across a new meaning for family Caregivers, one that I have learned while finishing my masters degree in Leadership and Communication at Gonzaga University and that is the connection Caregivers have to Servant Leadership.  With my ministerial background and theology training, I had been looking forward to my class in Servant Leadership.  I was not disappointed.

Robert Greenleaf is known as the founder of Servant Leadership and once said: “The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is a leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions.”   While our class in Servant Leadership often focused on Business, Managers and Work Place Culture, I often commented in our classroom discussions about how Caregivers are Servant Leaders, because of our role to serve first, to advocate, to be the voice for those who could not speak, to put ourselves second.

Some of the characteristics of a work-place driven by Servant Leadership is that staff is fully engaged, feel a strong commitment to the cause, find purpose and have passion.  Servant Leaders are mindful of the whole, while understanding wpid-wp-1419526540344.jpegthat people have to feel empowered, lovable, connected and contributing.  I see quite a bit of philosophy entwined with Servant Leadership and Caregiving. Caregivers are commitment to the cause, and do find purpose and have passion to care.  Caregivers are mindful of their Caree, while understanding that their Caree needs to feel empowered, loved, connected and contributing.  Caregiving and Servant Leadership goes hand-in-hand because of the innate ability to think beyond our self.

In essence, we are all Servant Leaders in training and our training in Servant Leadership is on going, it never stops. Servant Leadership is about relationships.   Even after Caregiving has ended for me, I still in training, learning how to care for myself while in the midst of being present to my family, friends and co-workers.  Caregiving and Life After Caregiving is about Relationships!

I see the connection to Servant Leadership and Caregiving, do you?

Oh and what did being a family Caregiver mean to me? It meant the world, as we were fortunate to have some of the most meaningful conversations while spending every second, minute, hour, day, month and year together.  I would do it again with him all over with no regrets!

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Chris MacLellan is the Author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving”

and Host of “Healing Ties: Creating A Life to Love After Caregiving Ends.”

To purchase the book, simply click here!

 

Security and Well-Being in Elderhood

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

 

After my Grandfather died, just before Christmas in 1994, our family discovered that my Grandmother was having trouble with her memory. At first the doctor thought she was having problems because of grief or depression, then she began to believe that drug dealers were working in her basement, and that airplanes were taking off from her yard. She was calling the state police to come help her.

It must have been a terrible time for her, and I know it was hard on my Mom, who became her long-distance-primary-caregiver. Thankfully, one of my cousins was able to stay with her for a time, giving both my Grandmother and my Mom more peace of mind.

Grandparents Belles Christine and Diane Jackson PAGrandma had married young, and she and her husband were devoted to each other. After his death, we’d found a cross-section slice of tree in the shape of a heart, inscribed with their initials, that we believe my Grandfather had found and cut and carved as a Christmas gift for his wife.

Eventually my Grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and she moved into a lovely personal care home near her house. The terrifying hallucinations stopped, and we were able to visit without worry that she was alone and frightened.

Security is one of the “domains of well-being,” and it’s easy to see how important it is that we feel safe.

I think living in the little Cape Cod-style house she and my Grandfather had built together felt so cozy and warm for all those years because they had each other. My Grandfather provided a wonderful sense of security for his family. When he died, Grandma was truly alone, and her own home was transformed into a place of loneliness and fear.

Security is about knowing that there is someone else there when you need them, about knowing the people that provide your care, and their knowing you.

Who or what helps you feel secure? Can you think of a time when you didn’t feel safe, or imagine a time when your older loved one might have felt “insecure?”

Share your thoughts on “Security,” one of The Eden Alternative’s Seven Domains of Well-Being™, and click HERE to read more about it in the Eden Alternative White Paper on the topic.

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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

Do Caregivers Ever Get a Snow Day?

There is a storm coming, and I can feel the pressure in my temples.

People have been calling or texting to cancel their appointments, and while there have already been numerous accidents on our local roads, the “real” storm is expected to build slowly today and hit us hard overnight and into tomorrow.

I think we’re hard-wired to seek shelter when the weather is bad. For some of us, that “low pressure headache” is both warning and encouragement to get back into the safety and security of our bed to wait out the danger, or at least to hit the sofa.

In the movies, a storm usually marks some kind of change. In real life, it can feel like a call to action. Gather milk and toilet paper! Check the generator! Mount those studded snow tires!

Once our most basic needs are assured, we may use the storm as an excuse to take a break from the everyday busy-ness of life. There is a different feel to the world when it is muffled by several inches of snow. Businesses close, messy roads discourage travel, and we can postpone the mundane.

A snow day isn’t just for school children; we can all decide to stay in our jammies and watch old movies on TCM.Ravens on the Field

When you care for someone who lives with chronic illness, dementia, or frailty, there are some tasks that will have to be done no matter the conditions. Barring true Apocalypse, we have to have food, manage getting to and from the bathroom, take medications, and consider bathing and other personal care.

Is it possible for a care partner to enjoy a snow day?

Sometimes a shift in how we think about the day can make space for us to focus more on the moment, and less on the many tasks that always seem to clutter our to-do list.

A snow day can mean pulling out a game you enjoy, putting on some music, and generally loafing where and when you can. A snow day can be for “being” more than “doing.”

It’s natural! Embrace the snow day by slowing down, making some hot chocolate, and spending time with the person you care for. Accept some care today, and enjoy the blanket of winter.

How do you make a “snow day” special for yourself and your loved ones? What rituals bring you comfort and help you slow down at this time of year? Please share your thoughts with our community, and stay safe and warm!

 

Widening Circles of Support for Elders and their Care Partners

 

The rural community where my Mother grew up is saturated with extended family, and has been for several generations.  As a family history buff, I enjoy looking at the old Federal census forms and seeing the names of ancestors filling pages, neighbors living in houses strung along a country road or tucked into the mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania.

The big farmhouses of those times had a “sick room” off the kitchen, where an ill loved one could be looked after, close to the family’s heart and hearth.  With cousins, nieces and nephews, and sons and daughters all in the area, there was help to be had if and when it was needed.

Even so, it’s interesting to see that some Elders of very advanced years lived with unrelated folks as a “boarder.”

4fafe553-6123-4719-b6f9-00fdc24e92f1Nowadays our culture continues to see the “best” option for care of our Elders as that which is provided in their own homes, or living with close relatives.  Moving someone into a nursing home is seen by many as a personal and family failure.

This has always bothered me.  While we have a long way to go to change the institutional model of long term care, I do not agree that this represents failure.

I’ve seen many Elders blossom in nursing homes and assisted living.

One beautiful woman I knew came to live in the nursing home because arthritis had crippled her hands badly and left her unable to get around without a wheelchair.  Once she moved into the nursing home where I worked, she was able to explore her lifelong dream to be a painter.  The Activities staff provided her with supplies and a place to work, and she figured out a way to hold a brush in her gnarled fingers.  The art she made was glorious! (And she felt very happy to have finally liberated her inner artist!).

I’ve also known many Elders in their own or a family member’s home who nevertheless suffered from the three plagues of Loneliness, Helpless and Boredom, as defined by Dr. Bill Thomas and The Eden Alternative ™.

These families are likely to feel guilty when they “have to” place their loved one.

We’ve seen much change in recent years, with families moving far from the family home, medical technology extending life (but not necessarily well-being), and two-earner couples.  It’s no wonder family care partners feel overwhelmed!

I won’t rehash the demographics and statistics we all know so well, but I’d like to offer some thoughts from my years of experience working in long term care.

Don’t let “caretaking” overwhelm your relationship with the Elder.  There are lots of people who can mop the floors, wash the linens, assist with bathing, and help an Elder living with frailty get to the bathroom. No one can have the special family bond with the Elder that you do. You can look at family photos and reminisce about the milestone events and precious small moments that comprise your family’s unique culture and history.

If you are a spouse or partner, your loving presence is irreplaceable.

If you’re so overcome with the tasks of caring, to the point that the relationship is suffering, please reconsider. Build a care partner team for your Elder and for yourself that will honor your loved one’s preferences and still ensure their daily needs are met in a loving and respectful way.

Consider that the local nursing home is where our sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, are now working.  Let them help with the care.  You’ll find that some of these strangers will come to love your Elder and develop their own distinctive relationships with them.

You’ll also find that those young, strong backs can take on what feels burdensome, leaving you with the energy and resources to be present for your Elder in the way that only you can be.

 

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Lisa Kendall is a social work psychotherapist and clinical gerontologist, and amateur genealogist!

Please let us know your thoughts about Aging and Elderhood, and share your stories of how you’ve been able to widen the circles of support for your loved one and for yourself!

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. 

Are You Happy to Break the Good Dishes? (or… “Eat the Cherry First!”)

 

I recently splurged on a set of adorable Moroccan tea glasses, something to remind me of my favorite Philadelphia restaurant and the great meals I’ve shared there with my Sweety.

When one of them broke this week, I was surprised to find myself feeling happy about it, even satisfied.

Was that a strange response?  Maybe, but here’s my thinking on it.

Like many people, I’ve had a tendency to set aside the “good dishes” (or fancy paper napkins, or special blouse), saving them for a special occasion.

Doing this means those precious items are rarely used and enjoyed, and more than once, waiting has meant that what was special has become ruined for some reason.

In the past few years I’ve developed a philosophy of using the things I love, even when it means risking wear, tear, and ultimately the end of the object.

It feels like I’m no longer depriving myself, and every day is graced with little reminders of the things that give me joy: a special color or pattern, the glimmer of crystal, wonderful memories.

I used to be a person who saved the cherry on a sundae for last.

Now I eat it right away, and I’m not above asking for two cherries!

Are you saving something for a special occasion?  Today is special!  Life is short and we should embrace every moment for the blessing and gift that it is.

http://www.powerfinish.com/powerpoint-templates.htmlOpen those Christmas presents and enjoy them – now that’s a resolution you can live with!

 

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Lisa Kendall is an expert in Elder Care and self-care for all members of the care partner team.

We wish you much Joy and many Blessings in the coming year!

lisa@lisakendallcounseling.com

Sorrow and Joy in the Season of Light

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 Diane Graduationfamily, 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.

http://www.compassionatefriends.org/News_Events/Special-Events/Worldwide_Candle_Lighting.aspxThis 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.

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.

The Most Powerful Tool You Can Use in Caring for a Loved One Living with Alzheimer’s

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.

http://astore.amazon.com/lisakendallcounseling-amazon-store-20/detail/193252956X

 

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.

http://astore.amazon.com/lisakendallcounseling-amazon-store-20/detail/1572242701

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.

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Please be aware that if you purchase books from the above links, a small percentage of the cost will go to support this website.

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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.”

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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. 

Holiday Caregiver Stress: Finding the Heart of the Season

http://www.flickr.com/photos/summerlovin/4171678797/

Photo by paulapaulac via Flickr

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 Caregivers

HOLIDAY 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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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.

 

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