Category Archives: Intergenerational

Listen In Love


The First Duty Of Love Is To Listen.

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Celebrating Richard’s 83rd birthday January 24, 2014

When Richard mentioned ‘Hospice‘ for the first time in December of 2011, it opened the door  for one of the most beautiful and meaningful conversations that two people could ever have over a sensitive topic. Just a few months after his diagnosis with esophageal cancer, this conversation happen so matter-of-factually, that by the time the conversation was over, there was no pain, no agony; just  lots of tears from an honest conversation between two people who just happened to loved each other.

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Chris and Richard is Arles, France 2006

Many years ago I had the opportunity to intern in hospice, it was quite a remarkable experience. High profile doctor’s humbled; broken families reunited; husbands, wives, siblings children, partners letting go, provided me with the opportunity to look at hospice through different set of  lens. I was, and continue to be, forever grateful for that experience.  While I tend to be on the spiritual side, Richard claimed to an agnostic Jew. I always found that funny because Richard was  one of the most spiritual and ground persons that I have ever met. Often misunderstood for his gruff demeanor and direct comments, Richard was rooted in his clear thoughts and perspective. You may not like what he had to say, but you never walked away from a conversation with him without knowing his opinion or where he stood.. It is really the best way to communicate: boy do I miss those conversations with him.

Honest dialogue often brings out the best and sometimes the worst in people. However without honest dialogue, what then is communication? Our decisions during our caregiving journey was guided through our honest dialogue.  I remember Richard clearly saying, “I will tell you when I’m ready to go to hospice!”  When I look back to that day on March 3rd when he got out of the chair on his own and walked to the gurney to be taken to hospice, that was his way of telling me that he was ready to go.  Hospice, end of life, life transitions, however you want to frame it,  we both knew where we stood,  we both knew what was important to us and we both knew that when the time came for hospice,  we would embrace it and deal with it.

Planning for the day, when there will be no more days is challenging.  How does one really do that?  By having an honest and open conversation before there is the need.   While there may not be a need for Hospice today, there is a need to talk about Hospice.  The effects of a diagnosis of Cancer are enormous on everyone, yet we must not allow any disease to drive us.  Fear is debilitating, HourGlassmaking a decision while in fear, can be crippling.   Find a way to have ‘that’ conversation about hospice.  In our case, the conversation just happened, but that is not the case for every caregiver and their caree. One way to make this difficult conversation comfortable is to ask open-ended questions, I.e., ‘It is important for me to know your thoughts on the type of care you want to receive so we can make good decisions together.’

As advocates for hospice, Richard and I  looked at hospice as a way to celebrate life in all of its stages.  Hospice is just not for the patient, hospice is for the entire family. While Richard  and I might have shared different opinions on life after death; one thing that we did know is that while we are alive, we are going to enjoy every second, minute, hour, day, month, year we had left. I think we accomplished that because we had the ability to talk openly about his wishes.  The memory of these intimate conversations with him is what helps me get beyond my grief and allow me to heal.  My you find your peace in your after Caregiving journey, too.  

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Filed under Caregiving, Healing Ties, Hospice, In Sickness and In Health, Intergenerational, Life after Death

“In Sickness and In Health:” My Response to Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi comments on same-sex marriage


“Love, care and commitment is the same for any two people” – Chris MacLellan

Friends,

I’ve taken a break from blogging  in order to adjust to life without my partner, Bernard Richard Schiffer.  Your letters, emails, phone calls of support for me over the past few months is  most appreciated!

On Friday, May 30th I was alerted to the news that Florida’s Attorney General submitted a court document stating  that “same-sex marriages impose significant public harm.”  On Tuesday, June 3rd, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial page wrote, “State wrong in its fight against same-sex marriage” and referenced Richard and I, and our Caregiving story, “In Sickness and in Health A Couples Final Journey”.   In Wednesday’s Sun-Sentinel, Attorney General Pam Bondi responded to Tuesday’s editorial.

Upon reflection of these events, it is important for me to share a letter with you that I have mailed to Florida’s Attorney General, Pam Bondi in regards to her comments on same-sex marriage.

June 3, 2014

 The Honorable Pam Bondi

Attorney General of Florida

The Capitol PL-01

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050

Dear Madam Attorney General:

I write this letter in the hopes of sharing a position contra to that identified in your recent court documents that recognizing same-sex marriages “would impose significant public harm.”

Maybe you heard about our story in the Sun-Sentinel a few weeks ago?  I’m told over 400,000 people have read our story, “In Sickness and Health A Couple’s Final Journey.”  As Diane Lade eloquently wrote, “being an older gay couple not recognized by law, navigating a system they feared could rob them of their ability to care for each other in sickness and in health.  After all, legal rights regarding death are intricately entwined with the privileges granted when people marry.”

We never intended that the love that my partner Bernard Richard Schiffer and I shared could become politicized, until I read your recent comments about how same-sex marriage “would impose significant public harm.’

I am fair-minded enough to know that each side has a right to argue your position in this fair state of Florida.  However to deny, ignore, wish away, pretend, assume and say that there are negative consequences in granting basic equal rights, indicates a fundamental disrespect  to gay rights and human dignity.  The arguments you use are the same for those who argued that ‘separate was equal’ and advocated for anti-miscegenation laws.    Like many before you who debated, and denied equality in our society, your current position on this critical issue will be sealed on the wrong side of history.

​I invite you to read our story in the Sun-Sentinel. In fact, I will even share the link with you: http://interactive.sun-sentinel.com/lgbt-dying-couple/.  You might also be interested in some of the readers’ comments that were posted on-line, too.  After reading our story, looking at the pictures and viewing the video, please tell me, the people in this great state of Florida, and everyone in the country,  how the love that Richard and I shared “would impose significant public harm?”

The late Maya Angelou said it right, “Love recognizes no barriers, it jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Once someone understands that love, care and commitment is the same for any two people who are joined together as one, then it becomes obvious why marriage equality is such an important issue in our society.

My prayer for you is that you will see that love is universal and not unique or limited to heterosexuals.

Respectfully,

Christopher J. MacLellan

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

 

 

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Filed under advocacy, Intergenerational, Legal, LGBT, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors

End of Life Wishes: Let’s Talk About It!


‘Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live.’  Henry Van Dyke

Join us this morning (Saturday 1/26) at 10:00 am est  (9 a.m. CT, 7 a.m. PT) with Denise Brown CaregivingLogofrom Caregiving.com  on  “Your Caregiving Journey” on Blog Talk Radio.  Richard and I join Denise  to discuss Richard’s end-of-life wishes,  my decision to ‘without’ the oncologist ‘prediction’ and a variety of other to end of life topics that are often difficult to discuss, yet important to get out in the open.   TLOCJM

Listen to the show live and join the chat room click here: blogtalkradiologo

We Might Have Cancer…

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But Cancer Does Not Have US! 

 

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Filed under Be A Healthy Caregiver, Blog Talk Radio, Intergenerational, maytodecember

82: Who Would Have Known?


Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.  Aristotle 

026Today, ‘The Little One’ turns 82! It is a feat to recognize considering we are now 16 months past the oncologist‘s original  estimation of 3-4 months to live after the completion of his radiation and chemotherapy treatments in October of 2011.      We all know that Cancer is an insidious disease, unpredictable and unkind to many.  While we feel blessed to have the extended time together,  we are cognizant of all  cancer victims and their families today.

We learned from our oncologist prediction in October of 2111 that there is really no one who can tell us how this ordeal was going to play out.  There are no timetables in life:  what is here today, is gone tomorrow.  Knowing full well that I am not the one with cancer, I had to learn my supporting role as the caregiver as time played out.  Remembering ‘TLO’ determination and commitment to ‘fight this as best I can’ still rings in my ears from October 2011.  His determination is still prevalent today!

I have never liked phrase ‘terminal illness‘ …some people view life as a terminal illness.  Yikes, how sad that is!   TheWorry TLO and I have both buried our previous partners, in one sense that is what drew us together.  Our previous Caregiving experiences give us the foresight to know that…we really don’t know what is going to happen.  The best we can do is be present in the day.  That is why is it our hope that lets us withstand problems, and it is our dreams that lets us find solutions.  

We celebrate birthdays as milestones, and today is a special milestone for ‘TLO’.  Happy Birthday to my best friend, pal and partner.   May your hills always have a gentle wind at your back.

We Might Have Cancer…

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But Cancer Does Not Have US!

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Filed under Advocate, Be A Healthy Caregiver, Caregiving, Gay Seniors, Intergenerational, oncology

Remember…Blame the Disease, Not The Caree!


When I was a kid, one of my favorite roller coasters was the Zephyr at the old Pontchartrain Beach amusement park in New Orléans.  Those steep curves and big drops were exhilarating, especially when the car made the turn to come back to the station ― when for a moment you thought  that you were going to fly into Lake Pontchartrain only to feel the car make that big pull to the left at the last second and head back to home base.  They do not make Roller Coasters like that anymore! 

Being a caregiver at times is like riding a roller coaster: up the hill, down the hill, swaying through the curves that Caregiving brings to us on a daily basis.  I know I must have ridden the Zephyr over a 100 times in my life, so I knew what to expect and could anticipate the bumps and curves as the car sped down the track.

Caregiving can change at a moment’s notice and… without any warning.  When your anxiety heightens, that is precisely the time when you have to be calm in the presence of your caree.    All of a sudden, those steep curves look ominous; those hills become daunting.

  • When your caree lashes out at you, take a step back and assess the situation; more times than not, it is the disease talking, not the caree.
  • Be attentive, not condescending.
  •  Be proactive, not reactive.
  • As a caregiver, remember you are not the one who is sick.

‘The Little One’ taught me this lesson as he related stories of being a caregiver for his partner Herman who passed away in 1999 from Alzheimer’s.  “As mad as I would get with Herman, I had to remind myself that it was the disease talking and not the man who I had known for 43 years.”   Over the last 48 hours, I have been reminded of this story quite a number of times as we are currently in the mist of change with ‘The Little One’s’ health.  We never know when the tumor is going to act up, but when it does, it takes its toll.   We are hoping that ‘this roller coaster’ gets back on track and pulls into the station .

When riding the Zephyr  I could anticipate the bumps and curves on the track, and I knew that I would always end up back at the station; however our health and well-being is not so predictable.  So when those bad days surface, we both take comfort in knowing that it is the disease, not the person.   Mindful that the person you love and care for, will always be inside your heart no matter what is inside their body.

You see…We Might Have Cancer…

 But Cancer Does Not Have Us! 

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Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, caregiver, Caregiving, Intergenerational, LGBT Caregiving, Unconditional Love

Be A Healthy Caregiver on Blog Talk Radio


 

Join  Chris MacLellan ‘The Bow Tie Guy’ on Tuesday at 1:00pm (est) for ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio  with  special guest Patrick Cavanaugh from Broward County Elderly and Veterans Services in Broward County Florida

 

 

 

 

Substance abuse is an issue that is not often discussed as it relates to our senior community.  Join us for a friendly conversation with Patrick  Cavanaugh with Broward County Elderly and Veterans Services Prevention Program as we discuss substance abuse issues relating to seniors and caregivers.

 

The Prevention Program activities are directed at older adults 55 years and older. Some are provided to at-risk elders, primarily those experiencing mental health and/or emotional problems, caregivers and the general public. Mr. Cavanaugh interacts and/or provides direct services to older adults in an effort to comprehensively address older adult substance abuse in an integrated manner. Over one thousand consumers per year participate in these services.

 

You’ll enjoy Mr. Cavanagh’s upbeat and positive attitude, this is someone who really enjoys his work!

 

Click here to join the show scheduled for Tuesday October 30th at 1:00pm

 

 

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Filed under Blog Talk Radio, caregiver, Caregiving, Intergenerational, Live Love Laugh, Unconditional Love

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

Obama Administration Participates in 2012 International AIDS Conference


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Good morning,

Last month, the 19th International AIDS Conference came to the U.S. for the first time since 1990 – thanks to bipartisan action by Presidents Obama and George W. Bush and the Congress to lift the ban on people living with HIV entering the United States.

While much work remains to be done, we all look forward to the day when there are no more panels to add to the quilt. Read more about the Obama Administration’s commitment to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Gautam Raghavan
Office of Public Engagement
The White House

Dr. Jill Biden views sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt with Julie Rhoad, President and CEO of The NAMES Project Foundation, at The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. July 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Obama Administration Participates in 2012 International AIDS Conference

Throughout the week, senior Obama Administration Officials participated in the Conference, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, and Office of National AIDS Policy Director Grant Colfax. In addition, President Obama recorded a video message to the Conference attendees and the White House hosted a reception to honor people living with HIV and thank the men and women who have been fighting with dignity on the front lines against this disease.

Here at the White House, a section of the AIDS Quilt was displayed in the East Wing so that the hundreds of visitors that walk through the halls of the building each day can stop and remember the human toll that this disease has taken, and how far we’ve come as a country in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

And finally, a group of senior Administration officials – including Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and OPM Director John Berry – reflected upon the impact of HIV/AIDS in their own lives.

Watch Live: Third Annual Bullying Prevention Summit

Next week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students will host the Third Annual Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Defense, Agriculture, the Interior, the Federal Trade Commission, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the National Council on Disability.

The summit will focus on ensuring that anti-bullying efforts are coordinated and based on the best available research. Panels will highlight the connection between bullying and suicide, and ways to help students who bully others. Keynote speakers will include U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the First Lady of Maryland Katie O’Malley.

Watch the entire event live, from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM EDT on Monday, August 6 and Tuesday, August 7, at http://stopbullying.gov/live.

Tweet of the Week

In Case You Missed It

 First Lady Michelle Obama is picked up by U.S. Olympic wrestler Elena Pirozhkova during a greet with Team USA Olympic athletes competing in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, at the U.S. Olympic Training Facility at the University of East London in London, England, July 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

July 31: President Obama Honors Early-Career Scientists and Engineers
July 31: An Issue Beyond Debate: Congress Should Act Now to Protect Women
July 30: First Lady Michelle Obama Leads Presidential Delegation to the Olympics
July 26: President Obama Pushes House of Representatives on Middle Class Tax Cuts
July 26: Marking the 22nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
July 23: Remembering Sally Ride: President Obama Salutes an American Hero

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Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, Caregiving, Gay Caregiving, Gay Seniors, Health, Intergenerational, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors, Senior Health

Gen-Silent in Fort Lauderdale


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Filed under caregiver, Caregiving, Gay Caregiving, Gay Seniors, Intergenerational, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors, Older man, Senior Health, Senior Housing

Communities of One?


Photo Credit: Free Digital Photo’s

Roads that appear smooth can turn bumpy on a moment’s notice.  That happened to us this weekend as ‘The Little One’ experienced some ‘bumps in the road’ with his esophagus.  There has been so much smooth sailing over the past month or so that the events of this weekend took us by surprise.  We take so much for granted in life, and expect our systems to run without a problem.  Since the diagnosis of esophageal   cancer in August, we have learned that food can be a funny thing.  There is no rhyme or reason why one form of food has more difficulty passing the ‘bump in the road’ in his esophagus more so than another does.  It just happens.

While the three instances this weekend were alarming, they reminded us that no matter how good we might feel, there is  always an issue lurking around the corner.  I am happy to report that as of Sunday night and moving into Monday, ‘The Little One’ is doing well and there has been no problems with the esophagus. These episodes take quite a bit out of us simply because of the unknown.  While the food pass ‘the bump in the road’…when is the right time to call 911?  It is a delicate balance and sometimes you just have to hope and pray the you make the right decision.

As I write about our weekend, I started to think about a man who I met through my work at SunServe Social Services.   This gentleman lives independently at Continuing Care Retirement facility and while there appears to be loads of activities,  he feels “on the outside looking in’ because as an LGBT Senior, his living environment is not sensitive to the needs of LGBT Seniors.

Some people might ask…Just what are the needs of an LGBT Seniors?

If you have to ask that question, then I think the best reference for you would be The LGBT Aging Center report on Language and LGBT Housing: Making Models that Fits all Housing. 

Aging in America is difficult enough; LGBT Aging is two-fold.   Think of it this way…As a kid every one of us had that awkward moment where we felt like we did not belong, we stood out in a crowd, or felt  left our by a group.  Today, across America, LGBT Seniors have those  same feelings and emotions we had as kids when they are thrust in facilities that are not sensitive to their needs.  Imagine trusting your care to someone who dislikes you for who you are…Remember Nurse Rachett?

Thinking about this gentleman  lead me to think…”what could be possibly be worse”… Living alone or living in a community where you are alone?

 [polldaddy poll=6145755]

While society is changing, we have a long way to go before there is acceptance. Overtime…with proper training, logical conversation, while using  active listening skills, change does happen!

Photo Credit: Free Digital Photos (he should be wearing a bow-tie)

I am happy to be associated with an organization like SunServe Social Services   who provides ongoing organizational consultation to help companies, organizations and service providers  in becoming more LGBT competent through policy and procedures alignment with best practices for LGBT care.  It is through awareness and sensitivity training where we step outside our comfort zone and learn that there are other ways at looking at life is making a difference in our community. 

Sure, my plans for this past weekend took a major detour as I had to make some adjustments in my life to care for the one that I love.  But isn’t that what life is all about?  What I was supposed to do this weekend was important, but as a caregiver, I am on call 24-7 and sometimes you have to weigh what actually is  important in life.

While we are secure in our relationship and know that these ‘bumps in the road’ are going to happen from time to time, I am left to  wonder about all those other ‘little-ones’ out there who have to fend for themselves in a system that is not accepting of them: I wonder about all those frail seniors who live alone just looking for someone to have a conversation with on a daily basis.   I wonder about all those seniors who live in a community, yet feel like they are alone.   Being alone in a community has to be the worst feeling anyone could ever experience in life.

 Let it be our goal that there will never be a community of one!

You, see…We might have cancer, but cancer does not have us!

   

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Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, caregiver, Caregiving, Gay Caregiving, Gay Seniors, Intergenerational, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors, SAGE