Category Archives: Inter-generational Relationships

The Foundation: The Honor Of Caregiving.


I have looked into your eyes with my eyes.  I have put my heart near your heart. Pope John XXIII

This Friday I will be presenting on Caregiving at SunServe’s Silver Serve Luncheon.   I’ve taken most of what I have written below from previous blog post on ‘The Purple Jacket’.  Your feedback is always welcomed! 

The Foundation: The Honor Of Caregiving

To be entrusted with the care of another human being is one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed on you.  Caregiving takes on meaning that is beyond reproach.  New parents have nine months to prepare for the responsibility of bringing a child into the world.  Doctors and nurses undergo years of rigorous training for the work that they do.   But CaregiversDavid Allen can find themselves thrust suddenly into roles, roles that they often do not choose, when called to care for a spouse, partner or loved one after a diagnosis or accident.

At a moment’s notice you become a Caregiver, without any warning, with any training, without any time to think things through.  You feel like you have no idea of what you are supposed to do, so you do your best as you follow your instincts and common sense.  You embrace the new reality…You simply care for the one you love.

When you become a Caregiver for your spouse, partner, significant other,   a new and uncharted realm opens up.  Two distinct relationships must now be blended into one.   The familiar partner from the past remains and is always present. But now there is someone different on the scene – someone with a significant illness.

Suddenly, two people sharing a life together will face challenges that cannot  be left unattended?  A whole set of new and intense emotions are likely to intrude on the relationship.  Worry, detachment, mortality, anger, fear of abandonment and having to live life alone,  begin to intertwine with the idiosyncrasies of your personal dynamics.  These gut wrenching emotions can lurk in a caregiver’s mind when faced with a life-and-relationship-altering illness with your life partner.

Caregiving is an intense experience that asks you to surrender yourself to the needs of someone else.  Often times, you have to give up things that you love, in order to care for the one you love.  Even though it might feel like a hardship, you make the choice, you make the choice because you know that it is what love and commitment is all about.  Yet it is not that simple, because Caregiving can be an emotional, physical, and interpersonal roller coaster that is both tremendously rewarding and frustrating.   These emotions can surely test even the best communication and trust in a relationship.

The common denominator when blending a life partnership with Caregiving is communication.

Successful relationships are built on strong communication and trust.  It is throughcaring hands honest communication that the true essence of a life partnership is revealed.  This does not change when you add the role of Caregiver to the mix.  Communication has to be the focal point for conveying the wants and needs of the one who is ill. This must be accomplished without losing one individuality, the life partnership, or the role of the Caregiver.  The term “delicate balance” takes on a whole new meaning

Frequent review and maintenance of clarity in your roles becomes crucial so that our judgment and decision-making skills are based on sound facts instead of raw emotions.  How much can the mind and body take when faced with so many changes in such period of time? I think that really depends on the couple’s ability to safely, clearly and honestly communicate their wants, needs and desires as indicated by the partners health needs first and the relationship second.

While I have no doubt that caring for your life partner will strengthen a relationship, Caregiving will change a relationship too!  It is not uncommon to see someone who has been firmly independent, become dependent in certain areas of life that have been difficult for them to accept. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone and asking for assistance with mundane everyday chores adds stress to both parties…That is undeniable!

Caregivers often become the voice for the one who is ill.  As Caregivers, we have to be mindful that we are in a supporting role.  First and foremost, Caregivers are advocates.   In our role as an advocate, we must remember that what we may want for our loved one may not necessarily be what the love on wants. What a slippery slope this becomes when caring for your life partner!

Life’s journeys are not often driven on smooth roads, but we can always hope for a gentle wind at our back. This gentle wind is always fortified by love, trust, commitment and communication.

…My your hills be always be slight and with a gentle wind at your back.

The Purple Jacket©

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Filed under Advocate, Healing Ties, Inter-generational Relationships

Discharged!


We’ve been discharged from the hospital!

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I’ll be back later today on ‘The Purple Jacket’ with further details.

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Filed under Advocate, Caregiver Stress, Inter-generational Relationships, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors, Senior Health

Capture Every Moment


In our Cancer Caregiving Journey, we know that on some days,  the tumor has a mind of its own!  For the most part, the good days have outweighed the bad days. We are thankful for that!

When ‘TLO’ (The Little One) feels good, we try to take advantage of every opportunity that is presented to us.  Our Saturday night featured a trip to the Ice Cream Parlor. (We know how those little ones like Ice Cream!)

Ice Cream 4

IceCream1

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When we have these ‘Caregiving’ moments, I am reminded how lucky I have been to be a part of this journey.  Yes, there are hard days for both of us, but all those hard days are thrown out the window when we  capture moments like these and just be who we are.  Reality is what it is, but that does not mean we can’t beat it!

home

Capture Every Moment, You will not regret it!

Remember, We might have Cancer…

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But Cancer Does Not Have Us!

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Filed under Caregiving, Inter-generational Relationships, LGBT Couples, Live Love Laugh

Catching the surf


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October 27, 2012 · 2:19 pm

‘I Do Not Need Any Help…I Have A StepLadder!’


Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. Buddha

As Caregivers, more often than not, we pay better attention to the health and well-being of our caree rather than to ourselves; It just goes with the territory. Just the other day, I found ‘The Little One’ pulling out the stepladder to use to reach the upper cabinets (after all he is 5’5”) in our kitchen. Being the over protective caregiver that I am, I immediately balked at his use of the ladder. “What are you doing,” I said! “What does it look like I am doing, putting away the groceries.” He responded. “Not with that ladder you’re not.” The conversation deteriorated from there…

Safety is a big concern for all of us. One harmless fall can put an entire series of health concerns into play. Yet there is a delicate balance between independence and common sense.

Dr. Starcevic with ‘The Little One’

On Friday, ‘The Little One’ had his quarterly check up with his primary care physician, Dr. Starcevic. Dr. Starcevic continues to be amazed at ‘The Little One’s’ progress and stated…”We should review the pathology report because this is truly amazing!” I was gratified when she spoke about how important I was in the progress that he has made over the past year. Of course, he agreed with her 100%. This conversation really helped boost my ego and confidence.

‘The Little One’ highly respects Dr. Starcevic, and I do too. When ‘The Little One’ was in the middle of his chemo and radiation treatments last year, she was the one who determined that he needed to be in the hospital. Not only did she have him admitted, she put him in a wheel chair and took him to the hospital herself! We will never forget that act of kindness on her part.

The Famous Stepladder

During the conversation with Dr. Starcevic, ‘The Little One’ mentioned that he is “extra careful when he walks because he does not want to fall down and break a hip.” As I listened attentively to his words, I could not resist jumping in. “Why don’t you tell Dr. Starcevic how you like to get on stepladders, “ I said! They both turned to me (with different expressions on their face of course) at the same time: then the real conversation ensued about ‘The Little One’s’ safety. The conversation was lively and to the point; it is harder for ‘The Little One’ to dispute Dr. Starcevic than it is me!

Every caregiver wants to ensure that their caree is 100% safe. While I know I cannot be at home 24/7, I also know that I cannot control what ‘The Little One’ does when I am not home. (Like I can really control him when I am at home!) I can hear ‘The Little One’ saying, ‘I can put those cans on that top shelf, I’ve been doing it this way my entire life;’ I get that response and respect it too.

Even as we age, each one of us has that indestructible opinion of ourselves. We do not want to lose our independence, but we also do not want to lose our independence through a fall that is preventable. Sometimes we just need a different messenger, and sometimes we have to realize that our message needs to be tapered. In this case, we learned the meaning of both. Thank goodness for the wonderful work of Dr. Starcevic!

You see…We might have Cancer…But Cancer does not have us!

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Filed under Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, caregiver, Caregiving, Inter-generational Relationships, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Seniors, Older man

LGBT Aging through the lens of Gen Silent


It’s never too late to give up our prejudices.Henry David Thoreau

You might remember an earlier blog post where I talked about a question that was posed to me by a good (straight) friend of mine, his question was simple: ‘What’s different about LGBT Caregiving.  In that blog post, I wrote  “ A very profound question that is easy to answer, yet difficult to explain.   “Caregiving in and of itself is the same for every couple, you simply care for the one you love.   The difference for the LGBT caregiver is when we have to interact with systems outside of our home that are out of our control.”

As an LGBT caregiver and advocate, my response to that important question pales in comparisons to the magnificent and gut wrenching documentary, Gen Silent.     The real life stories of love, commitment, discernment, hope, happiness and despair told through the lens of “Gen Silent” are gut wrenching, yet important for all audiences in order to understand the plight of LGBT seniors in America. Producer/Director Stu Maddux does a splendid job in piecing together these LGBT pioneers who helped paved the way for what we know today as Gay Pride.

We should all be indebted to them.  

Throughout their life, LGBT seniors have experienced discrimination solely for being ‘different’. LGBT Seniors are one of the most underserved communities in our nation.  Today’s LGBT seniors grew up in a time where they were told that homosexuality was not only a mental illness, but also a crime!

Systems can be unfair, yet pioneers like those in this marvelous film are the ones who help foster change.   Out of the shadows and into our hearts, this documentary provides  viewers with critical examples of why NO senior should be left behind.  This issue is not a local issue, it is a universal issue.  Somewhere along the line in our discussion about critical issues that face our society, we have lost the ability to look and talk about these issues empathically.

No matter what side of the fence you are on in regards to gay marriage; Equality in not a privilege, it is a basic human right.  Through the lens of Gen Silent” you will see the true meaning of love and why equality and equal rights are so important in our society today because everyone deserves a perfect sunset to their life.

Kudo’s to Stu Maddux and the staff at the LGBT Aging Project for a job well done.   Thank You to Ellen Wender of Creative Arts Enterprises and Treece Financial Group for taking the initiative to bring this documentary to South Florida.  Thank You to Diane Lade of the Sun-Sentinel for writing such a superb article on “Gen Silent” how nursing homes can push gay seniors back into the closet.

For information on how you can bring “Gen Silent” to your community, click here to visit the films website and ‘like’ them on Facebook, too!

To learn how your agency can develop LGBT-sensitive policies, train staff,  create welcoming environments, and receive CEU’s visit SunServe Social Services.

“We might have cancer…but cancer does not have us!”

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Filed under Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, caregiver, Caregiving, Dialogue, Gay Caregiving, Gay Seniors, Inter-generational Relationships, Intergenerational, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors, Senior Health

Amazement!


Photo Credit: Pinterest

As we continue to move forward with his aftercare, there is amazement on every side of the aisle. Our last report from the primary care doctor was terrific. She, like everyone else involved in his care, is utterly amazed at the progress that ‘The Little One’ has made since this ordeal started almost a year ago. I have been reluctant to blog lately, because quite frankly, I am amazed (and quite busy) too.

When ‘The Little One’ was diagnosed with cancer in late July of 2011, we started six weeks’ worth of treatments almost immediately. The outcome looked bleak back then, and in fact the doctors gave us little hope for the future when the diagnosis came in. ‘Three maybe four months” said the oncologist back in September of 2011.

It was at that time I made the conscious decision to withhold that information from ‘The Little One’ while telling the doctor ‘let’s wait and see how he responds to treatments.’ I never shared that conversation with ‘The Little One’ until after our last appointment with his primary care doctor just a few weeks ago. (If we are doing the math, that last appointment was in June; I was told in August of 2011 that he had 3 to 4 months. We are almost to a year since the first treatments….) Of course, I consulted with the oncologist on the decision not to share this information with ‘The Little One’ , and he agreed. “Let see how the treatments go and let him live his life to the fullest!” He has exceeded all expectations, and now his doctors want to do a case study on him.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

To withhold this information is a difficult judgment call that caregivers, spouses, doctors have to make on a daily basis. I made this decision based on one simple fact. ‘The Little One’ knew that he had cancer, and he knew that it was serious; I also knew that he was going to do anything he possibly could to beat the diagnosis. Why train the mind to think something is going to happen, when we really do not know when is going to happen?

This week, ‘The Little One’ will visit his oncologist for a quarterly check-up. I am confident that the oncologist will be pleased and say again….”Bern, you look great,” which ‘The Little One will reply, “ Yes, I’ve got a new embalmer!” Laughter is the best medicine, even in its most trying times.

What is left of the tumor is dormant and for all intent and purposes, his cancer is in remission. From the first day, we have taken this day by day. What else is there to do? Every case is different. My decision to withhold this information from “The Little One” was not an easy decision to make. After revealing this decision to him, he was glad not to know… even though he did know.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

In a sad, but beautiful twist of fate, ‘The Little One’s lifelong friend Jill has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Like our first report, Jill’s first report has us all concerned. What is beautiful about this is how ‘The Little One’  is able to transfer his experience of this insidious disease to Jill… to encourage her, to console her, to simply be there for her.  This gift of encouragement is one of the best gifts that one can give to a friend.

We send out a big hug and hello to our friend Doug in STL who is going through treatments at this time.  We are thinking of you Doug!

 Remember…We might have cancer…But cancer does not have us.

Photo Credit: The Purple Jacket

As you have noticed, we have taken a break from Blogging on ‘The Purple Jacket’ for the past few weeks.  As I transition into a new job and into a new academic program at Gonzaga University, “The Purple Jacket” will be taking on a new look too.   We will continue to provide you updates on ‘The Little One’ as this blog is really dedicated to him.  Yet in future weeks, we will expand the content of the blog to discuss the effects of Caregiving on the caregiver.   What is often overlooked in Caregiving is the importance of the health of the caregiver.  Personally, I have had to take a long hard look at this issue, and have come to the conclusion  that the best way to deal with this issue is to blog about it.  In essence, there is a real purple jacket.  I just can’t fit into it any longer.   We have to explore the issue of what it means to be a healthy caregiver!

Photo Credit: Caregiving.com

I am BIG fan of Caregiving.com  The community on Caregiving.com is just tremendous and Denise Brown who is the proprietor of this wonderful website, is an expert in the field of Caregiving. You want to be sure to check out Caregiving.com and become a part of the Caregiving family too!  Follow Denise on Twitter @caregiving and on Blog Talk Radio, too!

WE will also be exploring a new communication theory entitled ‘The Theory of Empathic Communication” in an upcoming blog posts, as well as our Phone A Friend program at SunServe Social Services.  We will also be chatting about a great program at the Pride Center in Fort Lauderdale, Coffee & Conversation which takes place every Tuesday morning at 11:00 am in Wilton Manors, Florida.   I will also have some speaking engagements to announce in August and September.  Coming soon,  ‘The Bow-Tie-Guy’ on Blog Talk Radio!  

Photo Credit: The Bow-Tie-Guy

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Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Blog, Bow Tie, Bow Tie Guy, cancer treatments, Caregiving, Gay Caregiving, Gay Seniors, Inter-generational Relationships, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, oncology

The Bow-Tie-Guy Tip of the Day:


Amplify the Positive! 

Photo Credit: Free Digital Photos

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Filed under advocacy, Advocate, caregiver, Caregiving, Gay Caregiving, Gay Seniors, Inter-generational Relationships, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors

The Bow-Tie-Guy Tip of the Day:


Life is meant to be lived in forward, not in reverse.

Photo Credit ‘Free Digital Photo’s’

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Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, Humor, Inter-generational Relationships, Live Love Laugh, Love, Older man, Spirituality

LGBT Caregiving Blog Series


 

I was privileged to have been had one of my blog post published recently  in the  American Society of Aging; LGBTcaregiving section. ASA’s Aging Issues Network (LAIN) is a great source for LGBT Caregiving and Caregivers.

‘Two Relationships in One’  

To be entrusted with the care of another human being is one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed on you.  It takes on meaning that is beyond approach.  New parents have nine months to prepare for the responsibility. Doctors and nurses undergo years of rigorous training for the work that they do.  But caregivers can find themselves thrust suddenly into roles that they do not choose when called to care for a partner, spouse or loved one after a diagnosis or an accident.

At a moment’s notice you become a caregiver, without any warning or time to think things through. You feel like you have no idea of what you are supposed to do, so you do your best, as you follow your instincts and common sense. You embrace the new reality. You simply care for the one you love.

When you become a caregiver for your life partner, a new and uncharted realm opens up.  Two distinct relationships must now be blended into one. The familiar partner from the past remains and is always present.  But now there is someone different on the scene – someone with a significant illness.

Suddenly, two people sharing a life together will need to face challenges that cannot be left unattended.  A whole set of new and hard-core emotions are likely to intrude on the relationship. Worry, detachment, mortality, anger, fear of abandonment and having to live life alone, to name just a few, begin to intertwine with the idiosyncrasies of your personal dynamics. They can lurk in a caregiver’s mind when faced with a life-and-relationship-altering illness in your partner.

Care giving is an intense experience that asks you to surrender yourself for the needs of someone else.   Often times you have to give up the things you love in order to care for the one you love.  Even though it may feel like a hardship, you make the choice because you know that it is what love and commitment is all about.  Yet it is not that simple, because care giving can be an emotional, physical, and interpersonal roller coaster that is both tremendously rewarding and frustrating. These emotions can surely test even the best communication and trust in a relationship.  The common denominator in the blending of these two relationships is communication.

Communication is a funny thing; just like relationships.  It is funny how the two go hand in hand.  Successful relationships are built on strong communication and trust.    It is through honest communication that the true essence of a partnership is revealed.  This does not change when you add the role of caregiver to the mix.  Communication has to be the focal point for conveying the wants and needs of the one who is ill, and this must be accomplished without losing the identity of either the partnership or the caregiver.  The term “delicate balance” takes on a whole new meaning.

Frequently reviewing and maintaining clarity in your roles becomes crucial so that your judgment and decision-making skills are based on sound facts instead of raw emotions. How much can the mind and body take when faced with so many changes in such a short period?  I think that really depends on the couple’s ability to safely, clearly, and honestly communicate their wants, needs, and desires as indicated by the partner’s health needs first and the personal relationship second.

While I have no doubt that caring for my partner (who has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer) has strengthened our relationship, it has changed our relationship at times, too.  I have seen someone who was firmly independent become dependent in certain areas of life that have been difficult for him to accept.   Stepping outside one’s comfort zone and asking for assistance with mundane everyday chores adds stress to both parties.  That is undeniable!

Caregivers often become the voice for the one who is ill. As caregivers, we have to be mindful that we are in a supporting role;   caregivers are the advocates, not the “deciders”!  In this supporting role, we must remember that what we want for our loved one may not necessarily be what the loved one wants.  What a slippery slope this becomes when the person you are caring for is your life partner!

As part of an LGBT intergenerational couple, I have, on occasion, observed discrimination in our health care system. Here again, personal political preferences may need to be deferred in favor of pragmatism because I am in the role of caregiver.  Successfully addressing and focusing solely on the needs of my partner is paramount.  There will be plenty of time to step up and do what is politically right once I have insured his proper care.

Life’s journeys are not often driven on smooth roads, but we can always hope for a gentle wind at our backs.  That gentle wind is always fortified by love, trust, and commitment.  Come to think about it, aren’t all relationships manifested in this way?

We might have cancer, but cancer does not have us!” 

Below are links to other LGBT Caregiving articles which are worth your read.  I am honored to be a small part of this wonderful group.  I encourage you to bookmark American Society on Aging, especially their LGBT Caregiving Blog Series.  (The ASA logo above will take you to the ASA website)

Finding Pride in Caring: LGBT Caregivers Answer the Call from the Community
By Holly Deni

Sharing Care an Energizing Experience
By Nancy Bereano

Transcending Business as Usual
By Paul R. Blom

Complications of Transgender Caregiving
By Julie Ellingson

 

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Filed under caregiver, Caregiving, Gay Caregiving, Gay Seniors, Inter-generational Relationships, Intergenerational, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Seniors, SAGE, Senior Health