Category Archives: Caregiving

Top Tips for Effective Self-Care

With today’s busy lifestyles and crazy schedules, finding enough time to maintain your own self-care is often the last priority. There are a number of things that can make you feel negative and can hinder your progress in life but getting through these hurdles is what makes you a stronger and more resilient person. Whatever life throws at you, by taking a positive approach and spending time on caring for your body and mind, you’ll start to notice changes in both physical and mental well being. Sometimes you need a reality check, and although you may have a support network around you, you have to take responsibility for your own destiny and well being to support your own development and progression in life.

For some people, this concept can be more difficult than for others, so if you’re looking for some inspiration on how you can incorporate self-care into your life, take a look at these handy tips to make some time for you.

Treat yourself as you treat others

The saying normally goes ‘treat others how you want to be treated,’ but that should also be turned around when looking at how you value yourself. Being kind to yourself is just as important as being kind and considerate to other people and actually could arguably be more important. Give yourself little pep talks and make sure you’re supporting and nurturing your own development. Re-training your thought process and recognizing your own strengths and attributes will help you gain more self-confidence which leads to better self-care.

Focus on being healthy and happy

You may have some personal hurdles to overcome that prevent you from seeing the bigger picture, or you might need a little motivation to get rid of those bad habits. However, focusing on health and feeling happy is an essential factor in self-care. It might be you need a little helping hand for alternatives to habits such as smoking, and offers liquids to support a change in lifestyle. Feeling healthy also isn’t just about physical health, it also focuses on mental health too, so making some time for yourself and relieving symptoms of daily stresses can help put you in a better frame of mind to take on new challenges.

Staying positive

Learning to love yourself and your body can be a difficult task but having the right mindset and getting to grips of the real picture can help you see past the fake stimuli that society is pressuring you to achieve. Focusing on the positives in all situations even the bad ones can help you achieve so much more. Not fixating on problems and seeing past small issues can help you understand things in a different light, which, in turn, help to control your emotions and take care of your mind.

Believing in your own strengths and realizing your achievements is vital for positive affirmation. Getting to this point might require time and patience, but the journey will help you reap the rewards in self-love.

Author’s bio: Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organizations. Email: maggiehamm



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Why Helping Someone You Care For To Keep Their Personal Sense of Style Can Be Important

When someone needs care, whether it is because of illness, disability, injury or old age, it can be as important to help them keep their sense of personal identity as it can to offer the practical assistance they need. This is particularly important when someone is learning to live with a new condition or recent deterioration and may feel depressed about the fact that they don’t feel like they can still do the same things they could before. They may even feel as if they are no longer the same person.

Outer Appearance and Personal Identity

A helpful factor in keeping someone’s sense of identity when they are dealing with a situation in which they need care is helping them retain their personal sense of style and their appearance. If they are no longer able to shop for their own clothes, dress themselves, or do personal grooming tasks that they may have done before, such as styling their hair, applying makeup, or shaving, they may have to rely on other people or on you for these things. It is important that they still feel like they are in control of the way they look and that their taste is taken into account when other people are helping them with these things.

Why Fashion And Personal Style Can Be Mentally Important

It may seem fairly trivial when compared to things like dealing with chronic pain, a long-term illness or a disability to worry about superficial things like fashion and make-up, but it can be more important to the patient than you might think. In fact, cancer patients can feel far less stressed and more able to face their day to day treatment programs when they have access to things that make the impact on their physical appearance because of chemotherapy as minimal as possible, such as wigs, make-up to disguise lost eyebrows and eyelashes, and gloves to cover damaged nails. For many people, looking as much like their healthy selves as possible helps them feel better, and can also help them feel like they can have normal interactions when they are out and about, rather than people knowing that they are sick and treating them differently.

Fashion is important too because it is something deeply personal that most people have decided for themselves over the years. Whether someone dresses in a way that stands out, follows the latest trends, dresses in a classic, smart way, or favors a comfy, casual and laid-back look, this is all a reflection of their personality. They may feel uncomfortable or depressed if they can no longer express themselves in that way, or if they no longer have control over how they look and the person responsible for dressing them or choosing their clothes doesn’t do it how they would themselves.

For some people, fashion can be about even more than taste and personality; it can have some sentimental attachments, too. Some people like to wear things that remind them of something or give them a sense of belonging, like custom morale patches from military units they belonged to, class rings, or football jerseys. Others like to make obvious statements with what they wear, for instance, wristbands that show the causes they care about or t-shirts related to their favorite bands.

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6 Steps To Help You Be Kind To Yourself

When you give a lot of your time to others and put their needs before your own, then you’re partly neglecting yourself. Helping and supporting others is hugely rewarding and crucial for making them feel loved and appreciated. However, to do this to the best of your ability, you need to look after yourself and make sure you’re well and able before assisting others. You’re going to be of most help when you’re feeling fit and healthy so try and be kind to yourself and careful not to put your own needs on the backburner. Remember to be kind to yourself and care for your own needs as well as for others. Being kind to yourself is a necessary requirement of being a healthy and well-rounded individual so do your very best to be kind each day.

Get The Help You Deserve

Be kind to yourself by recognizing if you need an extra helping hand here and there. There’s absolutely no shame in saying you need some assistance, so if you’re struggling with addiction and substance abuse, then seek professional aid. Recognize that you’re having some trouble staying afloat and reach out. You deserve to get back on the straight and narrow, so have a look around and conduct some necessary research to discover where looks good to you and promises to suit your needs. If you’re unsure about where to begin and who to turn to, then you just need to get started. Use The Recovery Village to get the ball rolling towards unearthing your best recovery plans.

Accept Your Mistakes

Getting hung up on mistakes you made in the past isn’t going to help you move forward and into the present. Instead, you’ll spend time thinking over your past mistakes and, quite frankly, wasting time. You cannot change the past, so accept your mistakes and vow never to do them again. You learn from the mistakes you make, so allow them to be a lesson to you and learn for the better from them. Thoughts of your past mistakes can plague you, especially if your mistake had a large impact on your life and changed how you live. However, you must accept that the past in the past and nobody is perfect. People change and grow, and so can you. Be kind to yourself and learn to accept any mistakes you’ve previously made.

Learn To Forgive Yourself

Leading on from accepting your mistakes, you must also learn to forgive yourself. Harboring self-hate and self-blame is toxic and will not help you to get over your past mistakes. Learning to forgive yourself is a process that takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it once you’re there and you’re able to come to terms with any past misdemeanors. Perhaps even, the instances you deem as being mistakes are far from being your fault. You might, in fact, need a professional to help you through means of therapy and explaining your position with the voice of reason. If you believe you could benefit from receiving therapy, then do not hesitate to contact your doctor, and begin getting the help you deserve.

Focus On Your Strengths

Be kind to yourself by focusing on your strengths and practicing the activities you’re good at instead of the ones that you have trouble with. If you’re adept at a particular sport and it makes you feel good to play it, then continue to do exactly this. When you’re good at something, you’ll receive a natural buzz from getting involved with it. So do more of what you’re good at for your own pleasure and sense of fulfillment and aptitude. Although it is said that if at first, you do not succeed, then you must try and try again, this doesn’t ring true for everything in life. If you’ve got to a certain and ripe old age, and you still haven’t got the hang of knitting or playing baseball, then it’s safe to say that it’s just not for you. Learning a new skill in life can be beneficial to keep your mind and body supple, but if you’ve tried and failed multiple times before, then hang up your skates and admit defeat.

Surround Yourself With Loved Ones

Be kind to yourself and make sure you’re surrounded by those who love and care for you. Surround yourself with friends and have fun with them. Laughter is a great medicine, so get out and about and start having a laugh getting involved with fun activities. Remember to stay active and fit, so incorporate socializing with your friends with exercise. Consider playing tennis together or going swimming while chatting and enjoying your time spent with loved ones. Be kind to yourself and surround yourself with individuals who are kind to you. Do not waste your time on toxic and harmful relationships with critical people who don’t make you feel good about yourself. Be kind to yourself and let these relationships come to a natural conclusion.

Nourish Your Body

Be kind to yourself and learn how to nourish your body to the best of your ability. As the saying goes, “your body is a temple,” so treat it that way. After all, it’s the only thing that’s truly yours, and it is going to be with you until death. Your body sees you through the brightest and the darkest times of your life, and it’s here for the long haul, so treat it kindly and love all of the hard work it does just to keep your heart beating and your lungs full of life. Your diet can, unfortunately, take a backseat when it comes to being kind to yourself. However, you need to ensure this doesn’t happen and that you’re giving your body the best fuel to power itself. Your diet should be fiber rich with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, complete with complex carbohydrates and good sources of protein such as free range eggs, tofu and nuts, and seeds. Be kind to yourself and nourish your mind and body with a good diet and plenty of vitamins and minerals.


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5 Self-care Tips for Caregivers

While caregivers give so very much of themselves to their patients, they often neglect their own health and even their own needs. Providing care for the elderly is a particularly mentally and physically taxing job. Without attending your own needs, you may not be able to give the quality care needed. A proper diet, good sleep, and learning strategies to address the mental and emotional strain are necessary. To provide the best care for either patients or loved ones, consider these 5 self-care tips for caregivers.

  1. Know Your Personal Boundaries and Barriers

The fault and strength of several caregivers is that they give too much. To truly provide what your patient or loved one needs, you must understand that you have personal boundaries and barriers and learn how to use them as well as work with them. Caregivers tend to have barriers that make them question if they are being selfish for wanting to put their own needs above their patients. Others feel that they are unworthy to even consider doing so. They care so deeply that they take situations that cannot possibly be in their control and make it their own responsibility. Accept and remove these barriers to be a more effective caregiver.

  1. Reduce Your Own Stress

Since caregiving is a stressful environment, it is important that caregivers find ways to reduce the stress they may experience in their own lives. After you’ve removed your barriers, you can then accept that you need time off to take care of your own personal needs and responsibilities. Stress reduction techniques may be needed before you enter a job as well. Meditation, reading, stretching, listening to your favorite music, or even playing a game on an app are some of the techniques that professional caregivers will use before beginning or in the middle of their caregiving routines.

  1. Life Continues with a Life Source

Caring for the elderly can be especially traumatic for caregivers without their even knowing. As we lose loved ones and patients, it can be difficult to not remain in those dark and depressed emotions and remember instead that life continues. Because caregivers become so attached to their patients, it is difficult to remain constantly objective in dark situations. To combat these feelings, find what several experts call a life source. This could be a hobby that makes you happy, regular coffee dates with friends, or time spent with your family.

  1. Watch Your Diet

A caregiver’s job is demanding not only mentally but physically. The atmosphere is often so fast-paced that a proper diet becomes the last thing on a caregiver’s mind. This can have a dramatic impact on your mental state. Just as you would advise your own patients to eat healthy, so should you. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and avoiding fast foods at all costs can help to improve your mental state of being as well as give you needed energy to tackle the job ahead. Taking time to prepare or cook your meals can also be a form of stress relief or life source.

  1. Don’t Skip the Exercise

Although it may seem impossible to do, try your hardest not to skip daily exercise, even if this means taking a short walk. As a caregiver, you know that your patients need daily physical activity for a variety of reasons related to their physical and mental health. You are no exception to that rule. Exercise releases endorphins which can help positively stimulate the mind—something caregivers need regularly. Exercise has also been proven to be a form of stress-therapy as can it function as a life source. If you are able, try to exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes three days a week. Due to their nature, caregivers will naturally put other’s needs before their own. Remembering to take care of your own needs will not only allow you to provide care more effectively, but it will make you a living example for your patients and loved ones.

Author’s Bio: Marcus Clarke regularly blogs at psysci, a psychology, science blog that examines the latest research and explains how findings can impact and improve people’s lives.  You can reach Marcus  at

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Reasons Why Stopping Smoking Will Improve Your Quality of Life

Smoking is a difficult habit to kick to the curb, and many people find it difficult to begin to process. One of the reasons people struggle to quit smoking is due to the dependency they have developed, especially when withdrawal symptoms can be a struggle to overcome. However, while the negative effects of smoking are widely advertised, something which is not made as clear, is the positive lasting impact stopping smoking will have on your lifestyle. If you are struggling to find a reason to stop smoking, then sometimes focusing on the positives can have a greater impact than focusing on the negatives. With that in mind, here are just a few examples of how going smoke-free will help you to improve your general quality of life.

Being able to to be more social

While fellow smokers might not mind the smell of cigarettes, many non-smokers can find smoking in general rather off-putting due to the smell and the problems involved with passive smoking. If you have a dependency on smoking, taking regular cigarette breaks means you can be removed from the conversation. If you live in a state where smoking has been banned in some, or all, public places and buildings, then it can be a nuisance if you are craving a cigarette and have to leave the group to go out in bad weather, or stand with complete strangers, just to get your fix. Therefore, stopping smoking can improve your social life and allow you to spend more time with people who do not enjoy smoking.

If you are looking for smoking alternatives while you wean yourself off smoking, vaping is a slightly more social method of nicotine inhalation and is less effective for other people in terms of the smell. You can read more about vaping if this is an alternative you would be interested in pursuing.

You will have more energy in the long run

While you may think that smoking energizes you and improves your mood, the opposite is true. Nicotine produces a short-lived, synthetic chemical reaction which improves your mood for a brief amount of time. However, in the long run, your natural ability to feel stress relief and happier is decreased while you continue to smoke. Not only that, but smoking lowers circulation, impairs your immune system, and damages your lungs making it difficult to breathe during physical activity, and resulting in the infamous ‘smokers cough.’ Quitting smoking can improve all of these symptoms; just 20 minutes after you stop smoking, your blood pressure will begin to drop and, after only one month of being smoke-free, lung function will begin to improve. This will give you more energy and give you the capacity to be more active.

Better family relationships

By smoking around your loved ones, you are subjecting them to second-hand smoke, which can still have a detrimental effect on their health, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. As many people know this, they will often spend many hours away from their family smoking, and this can damage family relationships over time. Your family may also be concerned about the negative effects smoking has on your own health, and this will subject them to stress and cause strain in even the closest of relationships. If you are struggling to find the motivation to quit smoking for yourself, then your family may just be the inspiration that you need.

Stopping smoking can be extremely difficult, as it is a serious addiction. However, once you stop, or even begin to cut down, you will find that your quality of life begins to improve, and over time you won’t even miss how you felt when you were a smoker.

Author: Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organisations.  Contact Maggie at

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Senior Housing Checklist: What to Look for in Assisted Living Facilities

Your loved one needs assistance to maintain her sense of independence. Whether recovering from a hospital stay or experiencing progression of a diagnosed disease, you want to assure his or her safety while helping them enjoy as much freedom as possible. Looking down the road, you consider options which will allow them to “age in place” with grace and dignity.

Assisted Living Facilities are designed around the concept that a resident’s opportunity to maintain — or improve — their current quality of life is enhanced with extended services and support staff all under one roof. Many residents enjoy individual apartment or condominium living within the confines of a secure, care-oriented program.

Researching various Assisted Living Programs can be a confusing, emotional and overwhelming task. To help you mitigate the process, we’ve compiled the following checklist for use as a general guide:

1.   Location

Determine whether the facility is located close to your loved one’s support network of family and friends. If not, is there a conveniently-located hotel nearby? How far will they have to travel for preferred medical and pharmacy services? Check city-related data such as neighborhood safety ratings and which local public transportation options are available.

  1. Security Features

Does the facility employ a centrally-monitored security company and what does it offer? Advanced features such as video surveillance and specified access control systems help protect resident safety, while assuring personal and medical care staff members the opportunity to respond quickly and efficiently when needed.

  1. Safety Precautions

Often, progressive aging symptoms include reduced visual acuity, memory loss and balance instability. Check common facility areas for American Disability Act compliance.

Are hand-rails continuous and easy to distinguish against wall design features? Is flooring soft and feasible for walkers and canes? Are visual cues in place to offer guidance for pedestrian walkways, and is lighting consistent throughout?

Identify whether or not staff members undergo background checks and if everyone, staff and residents included, are up-to-date on immunizations. Ask about “missing person” drills and if residents are issued unobtrusive locator bracelet or necklaces.

  1. Medical Services

Clearly identify which medical services are offered on-site. How is the initial medical care plan assessed and who oversees daily medical management? What is the standard operating emergency procedure and how often is it tested? Are nurses or nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, physical therapists and dietitians employed on staff? Determine the ratio of medical support personnel to residents.

  1. Personal Care

Make sure Certified Nursing Aids — CNA’s — are available to assist residents with activities of daily living such as:

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Oral Care
  • Feeding
  • Walking
  • Functional Transfers
  1. Household Tasks

What does the facility provide by way of general housekeeping? Is an accountant available to help residents pay their bills and manage their accounts? Are housecleaning and laundry services offered, and do they include changing linens? Inquire about assistance with general shopping and in-house meal preparation. Make sure there are at least as many options available to support your loved one’s sense of freedom and independence as there are to protect her medical health.

  1. Food

The enjoyment of wholesome and appealing food is all-important part of life satisfaction as well as healing. As your loved one ages, they will inevitably lose taste buds and the ability to distinguish between sweet, sour, bitter, savory and salty. It is vital that meals with appropriate texture, spiciness and aroma be offered on a regular basis to prevent appetite loss and poor nutrition.

Check into the communal dining experience. Is the seating area clean and attractive? Are three, well-balanced meals prepared per day? How about snacks and beverages? Does the culinary staff honor special dietary needs?

See if you can snag some recent menus and inquire about the feasibility of family members joining an in-house meal while visiting. Ask current residents how they like the food — you’re likely to get impassioned responses one way or the other!

  1. Socialization and Community Involvement

Social interactions and community ties help ward off feelings of isolation and depression that often accompany a significant life shift within the elderly population. Older adults who are socially active enjoy reduced stress and anxiety levels, increased self-esteem and are even more likely to exercise regularly.

Ask about a facility’s planned group activities and outings. See if you can access a recent calendar of events. Consider tossing in a question about opportunities to socialize with any resident who has already weighed in on the food issue.

Your loved one’s increased need for assistance is an excellent opportunity to take stock of supportive ways to protect both her freedom and health for many productive years to come. Assessing critical factors of location, safety, medical and personal care, diet and social involvement presents a well-rounded view within which to consider promising options.

Authors Bio: Kayla Matthews is a lifestyle and productivity writer whose work has been featured on Lifehacker, The Next Web, MakeUseOf and You can read more posts from Kayla on her blog, Productivity Theory.

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Seven Ways Caregivers Can Care For Themselves

As the world’s population ages and diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, and various forms of cancer – as well as many more conditions – become more prevalent, so more and more people are becoming caregivers for their loved ones. This is a hugely selfless and difficult thing to do, and it is essential that anyone who is looking after someone else also takes care of themselves. The following tips should help anyone who is feeling stressed, exhausted, and overwhelmed feel more like themselves again.

Find Emotional Support

Going through the caregiving journey alone is a difficult decision to make, and one that should ideally be avoided for the sake of your mental and even physical health. You cannot effectively care for a loved one if you yourself are unwell. Therefore, it is a good idea to talk to friends and family about what you are going through if you can and listen to their advice. Even just using them as a sounding board can be a good thing for you. If there is no one close to you to talk to (or whom you feel comfortable discussing things with), then see if you can join a support group. You can do this in person or online, and it can make a world of difference when you realize other people are going through the same things you are.

Prioritize Good Habits

When you are a caregiver, it is easy to ignore your own needs because you are so focused on looking after someone else’s. Although that is admirable, it isn’t sensible. You need to be as fit and healthy (and happy) as possible in order to give the best level of care. That means getting as much sleep as you can (at least seven to eight hours if at all possible), exercising regularly, and eating properly. Don’t grab snacks on the run and prepare as much food as you can in advance, and this will help you to be healthier. If you are in pain and suffering, then don’t put off going to see a professional such as Smith Chiropractic about it or you could risk becoming more unwell.

Ask For Help

When you need help, don’t be too proud to ask for it. When you are offered help, don’t be too proud to accept it. People around you will often want to help you out, but they may not know how best to do it. That’s why, when you need something, you should ask for it – there will be someone willing to assist. Whether it is running to the pharmacy to pick up some medication, looking after your loved one so you can head out to the store, the library, an exercise class, or just for a walk to clear your head, or even just coming round for a chat and a cup of coffee, someone will be glad to oblige. It will make them feel better because they are finally doing something for you, and it will help you out at the same time. If people want to help, let them – it’s a golden rule when it comes to caregiving. You really can’t do it all by yourself, and you shouldn’t have to.

Get The Training You Need

Having the right kind of professional training can help you to give the care you need in your role as caregiver. Workshops, online courses, and one to one training sessions in the home can all be advantageous in teaching you want to expect. It will depend on what illness or condition your loved one has as to what you are going to need to do for them, so picking the right kind of training will help you out. If you can’t find any personal training, then look online for resources or ask at your local library for books and information that can help you.

Manage Your Emotions

Caring for someone you love, especially if their illness or condition means that they are in pain and suffering, is difficult. You will often feel emotional, and that is perfectly normal. It’s what you do with those emotions that is important. Next time you are feeling angry or sad or low in general, take a moment to step back and discover what caused those feelings if you can. Once you know, you can better manage the situation and the emotions that are caused by it. That will make both you and the person you are caring for much happier.

Take A Break

You will not be able to just keep going forever. Sooner or later you will feel tired (even bone weary exhausted), emotionally drained, absolutely overwhelmed by the enormity of what you are doing. Taking a break can help to re-set you, enabling you to be a better carer in the end. This could be as little as a 15-minute walk around the block or a power nap, or it could be a vacation where you really do get away from everything for a week or two. If this latter idea appeals, you will need to look into respite care or find someone else who can come into your home and look after your loved one while you are away, of course. Once that is organized, you can go away and really relax, coming back happier, healthier, and ready to continue your caregiving duties.

Find A New Normal

As the health of your loved one declines, the way you live your life will change. If you worry about those changes and constantly think back to your old life with regret, missing what you used to do and have, you will be unhappy with the present, and this can lead to serious issues such as depression. It will also mean that you begrudge your caring duties and start to resent your loved one. Instead, you need to look for the new normal and go along with the new ways of living. Understand that life changes for everyone, not just for carers, and that going with the flow is the calmest, safest, easiest thing to do – it will keep everyone much happier.

 Author’s bio: Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organisations.

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After Caregiving Ends

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu

March 9th! This day comes around every year and there is no way to avoid it. Sure, I could roll the covers over my head for the entire day and wallow in sadness, but what does that accomplish; more sadness, more isolation? I think not!

As I look back on these last four years, I see quite a bit of change in all facets of my life. There is the weight loss, the new moustache, establishing The Whole Care Network and TLO Cruises and Tours and of all things getting a tattoo!


The tattoo is probably the most outlandish thing I have ever done in my entire life, however the tattoo has so much meaning to me as I ACE, (After Caregiving Ends). I believe it is through the experience of the white flower and tattoo which has allowed me to work through my grief and (If you would like to learn more about the tattoo see my post entitled “We’ve Only Just Begun: White Flowers and Green Shoes by clicking here“) guide me on a peaceful path.

When Richard (aka TLO) made his life transition on March 9, 2104, two lives were forever changed. As I look back on what I wrote the three previous years on March 9, there is one constant theme, love endures. What is different for me on March 9, 2018 is that I have started to live life again and break out of my isolation.

As I wrote in “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” I believe there are four stages of grief that caregivers experience:

  1. Relief < caregiving has come to an end and the one you are caregiving is now pain-free
  2. Sadness < the life that you once knew is forever changed
  3. Guilt < when you realise that you move on with your life without the one you love
  4. Acceptance < that day when you wake up and say to yourself…”Job well done” and you’re ready to move on with your life with your head held hight.

It took me 15 months to get to the point when I could get to acceptance. What I realize this past year is that I left out one important stage in grief, taking…

5. Action < Moving from isolation and activate your hopes, dreams and desires.

Whether it was the experience of the while flower, the tattoo, starting the Whole Care Network, (I could use countless examples from this past year) these experiences that happened over the past 12 months made me realize that until I took action, I was going to continue to isolate myself and stay stuck in my own muck (Richard would be most displeased!). Taking action has not only has restored my confidence, taking action has allowed me step outside my comfort zone which has provided exciting opportunities for personal growth and fulfilment.

What I have learned along the way is just as caregiving is different for each one of us, life after caregiving is going to be different for each one of us too. Now four years past, I don’t miss him any less; I’ve learned to live with him, and the love, care and commitment we had for each other, in a different way.

It’s “funny” how taking action has allowed me to find deeper meaning to our love, care and commitment. I will be interested to see what March 9, 2019 brings to me on The Purple Jacket!



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Dealing with the Stress of Being a Caregiver

We welcome guest writer Maggie Howard to The Purple Jacket

The demands of being a caregiver can seem so overwhelming that it can be easy to slip into depression and resentment. That is why it is so important that you learn to take care of yourself as well as the one you are caring for every day. There is a variety of support out there for caregivers, so it’s vital that you seek help if you are feeling the stress of the situation. Here are some of the other ways that you can help yourself as well as them.

Why is Caregiving So Stressful?

While caregiving can be extremely rewarding, many other stresses are not always a result of being a caregiver. If you are also taking care of your family or working, that can add a lot of pressure to your life, especially if something happens and you need to devote additional time to the one you’re caring for. There is also the upsetting thought that the person you’re caring for isn’t getting any better despite your best efforts. It can be demoralizing and upsetting. By trying to ignore the stress or not allow people to help you, it can start to affect your life.

Learn to Recognize the Symptoms

It is important that you recognize the symptoms of stress and get the help you need to deal with it. Otherwise, you could find yourself burning out and becoming a patient yourself. Some of the things you need to look out for are anxiety, depression, and irritability. These, in particular, can be difficult to judge so you should seek the advice of a doctor. If you are also starting to suffer from health problems or are having trouble sleeping, and a lack of libido, then these can also be warning signs. There are things you can do, such as practicing relaxation techniques and perhaps buying products to help you in the bedroom such as If you don’t get the help you need, then you could start to suffer from increasing problems such as a feeling of hopelessness or helplessness.

Make Time for You and Your Patient

It is important that you take some time to yourself so that you can do activities you like. It doesn’t have to be anything grand, just doing something you love is the key. You also need to give them the time to be themselves and do their own things. For example, if they love to paint or to sew, then you should let them enjoy that time, and you can do other things as well. If you choose these times to have someone look after them, then you can go and do the things you love.

There are other things that are also important such as spending time visiting or talking to friends, so you feel connected to the outside world. You should also take advantage of any respite care that may be offered. It can give you a day or perhaps two when you can recharge your batteries.

Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organisations. 

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Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. George Bernard Shaw

I think it is safe to say that there are no better milestones in life than birthdays. As I


write this on my 61st birthday, I look back on all the different milestones that have happen in or around my birthday of February 18th.

The first milestone (of course) was being born on February 18, 1957. I was born on the night of the Father/Daughter dance was Nerix Hall High School in St. Louis where my oldest sister Joanne was attending with our father. In fact, I just got off the phone with my sister Joanne who reminded me how our father had to leave her at the dance to attend my birth. Not even a minute old and my first milestone has already been created; I interrupted my sister’s dance with our father. “Funny” how that milestone is still talked about today!

There are many common milestones that we all experience in life that relate to our birthday; three come to mind immediately:

  • Turning 16 provided us the eligibility to start driving and gain some independence. Even if our parents are paying for the insurance.
  • Turning 18 provides us with the eligibility to vote and a sense of civic responsibility.
  • Turning 21 gives one the ability to “legally” to drink alcohol.

Then there are the decade milestones when we hit those magical number in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and hopefully beyond.

One of the best things about being the youngest of six children is no matter how old, and no matter what my sister says who is going on 29, for the 45th year says, I will always be the youngest! I know my five siblings are “smiling” when they hear this because I am always the little brother.


The late Bernard Richard Schiffer, February 18, 2014

One of the most difficult milestones in two lives, happened just four years ago on my 57th birthday when Richard and me were at his appointment with the radiation oncologist. I remember the appointment vividly, not so much for what the radiation oncologist told us (I’ll get to that in just a bit), rather by the way Richard greeted me when I walked into the examination room.

On that morning, I had another commitment and had to meet Richard at the doctor’s office. Thankful for the help from my sister Merrille and our friends a Emerald Elite Home Health in Fort Lauderdale, FL., I did not have to worry about getting Richard to his appointment that day. As the story was told, Richard was adamant to have have something for me upon my arrived at the doctors office. I think the picture tells the story.

Sure, I remember the information the radiation oncologist gave us that day which forever impacted our lives. However, the lasting impression of that day was not the knowledge that Richard’s cancer has spread throughout his little body, the lasting impression I have from that day is even in the midst of his pain, Richard was focused on making me happy! His act of focusing on me is the essence of true love, care and commitment, and one of the many reasons why I miss him quite a bit.

While in the middle of caregiving, we may not think too much about how our day-to-day stories impact us and others while in this massive caregiving sphere. Story sharing is at its best with caregivers. Caregivers connect through story sharing because every caregivers has this innate ability to understand each other, even when our caregiving experiences are different. Story sharing also provides a sense of comfort and relief to those who are telling the story; story sharing also provides one of the best sources of information and referrals for caregivers. I encourage all caregivers, as they feel comfortable, to share their stories because it is healing, therapeutic and helpful to other caregivers.

My friends, family, and readers on The Purple Jacket, along with the listeners to my Healing Ties podcast know that I have had difficult time adjusting to the major void that has been left in my life by Richard’s passing. We all deal with grief in our own way. Just like there are no two caregiving journeys alike, there are no journeys along the path of grief that are alike too. The one common thread that keeps comes back to me is story sharing and the healing component story sharing brings to me. Story sharing leaves a lasting imprint in our memories which will last a lifetime. I am creating a new chapter in my life; story sharing has helped me move from my grief too.

The current chapter in my life I am now writing allows me to recognize the pain of losing Richard has subsided, while at the same time, my love for Richard continues remains strong. I have simply learned to love him in a different way. It’s taken me awhile to get to this point in my grief recovery. I’ll be writing more about how my life has changed and how I have been able to move on with my head held high in future blog posts in 2018 on The Purple Jacket and The Whole Care Network.

My I be so bold and suggest, as you feel comfortable, share your caregiving story with others because I believe it is through story sharing where diversity meet the road to combat a common cause. That’s because there is no gender, orientation or economic boundaries when it comes to caregiving; we are all in this together. Story sharing bounds those who care for another person and allows us to find healing and strength.

Thank you for allowing me to continue to share my story!

Chris MacLellan is the host of Healing Ties Podcast, Author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving” and the founder at The Whole Care Network.


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