Tag Archives: Caregiving

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 https://bathmatedirect.com/collections/large. 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.

maggiehammond57@gmail.com 

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Milestones


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

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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.

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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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6 Characteristics of Caregiving Excellence


We welcome back guest writer Trevor McDonald to The Purple Jacket

Isn’t it always nice when you encounter someone who takes their job seriously? You could be checking out at Target or ordering from the drive-thru at Starbucks, but if the employee you encounter goes above and beyond, it can make your entire day. This goes tenfold for caregivers.

Taking your job seriously as a caregiver means caring for your patient or loved one as you would care for yourself.

If you strive to achieve caregiving excellence, you probably exhibit these six characteristics:

1.    A strong sense of empathy

Oftentimes, it seems as though caregiving takes about 110% of your energy. If you’re not careful, it can consume you completely. Whenever you feel like you’re about to break, try not to follow those thoughts. Instead, think about what the other person is experiencing. This sort of reflection is likely something you often do, but it is especially helpful in the difficult times.

Let’s say your patient or loved one is having a bad day. She feels awful and is in the worst of moods. You’re doing everything you can to make her more comfortable, but all she can do is yell and snap at you. This is a great time to remind yourself of the importance of empathy. How would you feel if you were in her shoes? Although it’s easy to get lost in the laundry list of things we deal with, the person you care for is dealing with a great deal also. They are likely dealing with loss of bodily function, depression, loss of mental capacity, and grief. Put yourself in her shoes as often as possible to maintain a strong sense of empathy.

2.    Consistency

When someone needs a caregiver, it’s usually because their life depends on the care. If you show up late or skip days, this could mean the difference between life and death. This isn’t something to take lightly. Be punctual, dependable and consistent with your care.

3.    Unwavering patience

It’s never really okay to take your problems out on someone else, but when you’re a caregiver, it’s really unacceptable. This means that you have to maintain your patience even when you’re having a rough day. Stress-management techniques can help you maintain your patience (and personal sanity). Try meditating on your breaks or starting a yoga routine in the morning. Breathing techniques can also help you calm down in the moment.

4.    Emotional stability

Let’s face the facts; when your patient or loved one has a bad day, so do you. You don’t like seeing anyone struggle, and you especially hate to see someone you’ve grown close to having a rough time. It’s heartbreaking. But one of our jobs as caregivers is to remain strong.

Your strength is one of the many gifts you’ll give your patient or loved one through this difficult time. As difficult as things may get, you must do your best to shield them from your grief. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should act heartless, but it’s better if you can keep an upbeat tone. Sadness begets sadness, and that’s not what we want for them or us. The best caregivers are emotionally strong.

5.    Flexibility

If you’ve been on this job for more than a week, you probably know the importance of being flexible. Schedules are important in caregiving, but it’s also important to roll with the punches. Your patient or loved one’s needs may change on a daily or hourly basis. It’s up to you to respond and help keep them safe and healthy.

6.    Perseverance

Caregiving is not an easy job. But you must remember that someone is counting on you. There may be times when walking away is the best for both of you, but this should never be the goal. You are signing up to help this person through the most difficult time of his or her life. If at all possible, stick with it until the end.

This may also mean facing unique challenges throughout each day. Your daily tasks may include things like bathing this person, dressing wounds and giving medication. And there are nuances to each task that cannot be ignored. For example, it’s up to you to keep an eye on this person’s prescription medications. This is especially important with addictive prescriptions because prescription pill addiction is a growing problem in the elderly.

When you commit to doing this job, you’re committing to handle every detail for the long haul. You know in your heart if you have what it takes to be an excellent caregiver. And even if you think you don’t, you might surprise yourself. Still, if you feel you’re falling short of these characteristics, it may be time to spend a few more moments nurturing yourself. After all, if you don’t take care of you, who will take care of them?

author bio: Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

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Age Without Borders Virtual Caregiving Summit


 

I am honored to participate in the Age Without Borders Global Caregiving Virtual Summit which begins on January 20-26. You can receive your free pass to attend the summit by visiting  Age Without Borders website by clicking here

The summit features over 60 thought leaders, experts and luminaries from 17 countries who share leading edge tools, insights, and personal stories. (My 30 minute presentation is on day 5 of the summit).

Plus, the summit includes a substantial FREE Care Package that offersinspirational tools and gifts, like Pulitzer prize winning poets, downloadable music and art, recipes, and spot-on caregiving tutorials and guides. Use this to help yourself, and to share with your family for quality time together.

Get your free pass, for daily links, and get a LIFETIME access to the entire collection (over 30 hours of content, plus care package gifts) for our $97 early bird All Access Pass, valid through midnight this Friday. The All Access Pass once the summit begins is $147.

Have you recently taken time out of your life to care for someone you love? Statistics estimate there are anywhere from 40-100 million people in the USA alone serving as unpaid caregivers- without any sort of information, training or support.

While done with love, caregiving for others professionally, or for family and friends, often leaves us feeling overwhelmed, burned out, stressed, even depressed. We find ourselves needing information, advocacy, self-care and inspiration.  

I’d like to offer you a complimentary FREE PASS to attend the Age Without Borders Global Caregiving Virtual Summit, January 20-26, 2018 featuring over 60 thought leaders, experts and luminaries from 17 countries who share leading edge tools, insights, and personal stories.

Here is a preview of my presentation:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/240288692″>Christopher MacLellan Promo</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user60061055″>Kari Henley</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Think of it as a free online conference or Netflix series that brings you knowledge and help for the most important job of your life. Enjoy two minute trailer videos to highlight each session, and full length interviews that last about 20 minutes- easy and fun to watch! Click here to see a few other
Topics include: inspiration to prevent burnout, caregiving policy updates, family coordination of care, respite and self care, digital tools to improve independence, family caregiver reflections and more.

Plus, the summit includes a FREE Care Package that offers inspirational tools and gifts, like Pulitzer prize winning poets, downloadable music and art, recipes, and spot-on caregiving tutorials and guides.

Click here to get your free pass, for daily links, and check out the very reasonable option to purchase the entire collection (over 30 hours of content, plus care package gifts) for only $97 early bird price.

Don’t just take my word for it.  Listen in to Kari Henley on this segment of Healing Ties Podcast and learn f

See you there!

 

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Getting To Bluetiful


Love has no age, no limit; and no death. John Galsworthy

As the holiday’s approach, it can be easy to fall into the “blues” especially when you are experiencing your first holiday without someone you love. When a life transitions, two or more lives are impacted, there are no two experiences that are exactly alike.

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Chris MacLellan with a portrait of the late Bernard Richard Schiffer in the background.

I’ve heard it said many times, “the first year is always the toughest when you lose someone you love.” I think the jury is still out on this statement. I know in my case, after my loss, I realized how ill prepared I was for the conflicting emotions of grief that I experienced. One of the most disheartening experiences for me was when someone criticized me for the way I handled my grief. We all experience loss, yet no one can tell us exactly how to deal with loss, loss is so personal and so real. I’ve come to learn this was their problem, not mine.

I also learned that it was equally important not to have anyone impose a time-frame on when I should be “beyond my grief.” Grief isn’t something that is taught in school, grief is an emotional experience that impacts each one of us in different ways. Like a plant that needs to be watered to regain its bloom, we too in our grief process need to be watered for us to bloom again. There is no timetable for a new bloom, yet without the proper nurturing and care, our soil dries and we start to wither away. Finding the proper water and soil is critical for “Getting to Bluetiful.”

There is one aspect to grief that I think all of us experience in one way or another, we stop living… I know, I let it happened to me! I believe once we recognize that we have stopped living, then we are ready to start the process of dealing with our unresolved grief.

Emotional isolation has an adverse effect on anyone. Getting to “Bluetiful” starts by being validated by trusted family and friends, without fear of judgement and without fear of laughter. Telling our stories allows our soil to be tended so we can receive nourishment on our journey to “Bluetiful.” I appreciate everyone who has allowed me to share my story.

While amid grief, “Getting to Bluetiful” can have its challenges, but it is a worthy journey when you have the proper water and soil to help you along the way. Sure, there will be days where the path will be bumpy, mixed in with some sharp curves. When those days happen out of the blue, simply pull off to the side of road for some fresh water and soil (a good cry? YES!) which will replenish your journey to “Bluetiful.” That old cliché is true: Time heals all wounds, however wounds healing at their own pace and in their own time and in your time, you will get to Bluetiful!

I’m almost there too!

Chris MacLellan is the host of Healing Ties Podcast and the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving?

“Everyone has the potential to be a kindness leader. Everyone has the potential to leave footprints on the heart of another. It is simply choosing to do a kind act to make someone else’s life ‘bluetiful.'” Allison Lazicky from Top-Notch Teams.

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Caregivers: Self Care is Number 1


Courage is knowing what not to fear.  Plato

 As National Caregiving Month comes to a close, here are some important reminders moving forward.

As Caregivers we are often put into a position where we have to choose between what is good for ourselves, and what is good for our loved one or care partner.  Placing someone else needs in front of our own might be difficult for some people to understand, but not for the caregiver!

To be a healthy caregiver we have to learn how to live our life in the solutions of our caregiving experience, not the problems caregiving can create in our lives.  By living a life focused on solutions, we live life with clarity, hope and love.  Focusing solely on the problems of caregiving we live in fear, worry and despair.
Here’s The Deal: Taking care of self is rule number one while in the midst of caregiving. Whether the words are spoken or not, your loved one understands the stress you are under and wants you to take care of yourself.  When you get to the point where you are at least half as good at asking care of yourself as you are at taking care of your loved one, you be on the right track. But first and foremost you have to start by making a plan!  Start by:
Create A Care Team: While are super hero’s our caregiving capes are limited. Reach out to family members and friends who can play a role on the care team. Everyone brings different talents to the team, utilize them!  Asking for help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness!
Set a Daily Intention For Yourself: Caregiving can be time consuming, especially if your balancing your career and raising children at the same time.  Schedule something for yourself, every day, even if it is just five minutes of me time in a room alone.
Have A Back-Up Plan: What if you get sick?  See Create a Care Team Above.
As Caregivers, we then to think that we are indestructible, but we are susceptible to illness too.  Stress and fatigue will play havoc on all parts of your body, mind and spirit.
I believe that there is no greater honor than to be entrusted with the care of another human being.  I make no bones about it, caregiving is hard, but in the end, the good days will always outweigh the bad ones.
Our new look and our new location on The Whole Care Network will debut in January 2018
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We’ve Only Just Begun: White Flowers and Green Shoes


Fond memory brings the light of other days around me. Thomas Moore

For some reason, I have been thinking  of Karen Carpenter’s popular song, “We’ve Only Just Begun”…

We’ve only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we’re on our way
(We’ve only begun)

While “white lace and promises” are great…I wonder what the song would sound like if I changedwp-1489778736321.jpg those lyrics to White Flowers and Green Shoes? (probably not!) Well, I don’t think song writer Michael Williams has anything to worry about in regards to me, or anyone else for for that matter,  changing the lyrics to one of the most iconic songs of our time.  As many times as I have heard this song over the years, it wasn’t until recently that the song presented a different meaning to me after a white flower appeared in my life.

Before the risin’ sun, we fly
So many roads to choose
We’ll start out walkin’ and learn to run
(And yes, we’ve just begun)

So many roads to choose. I have debated long and hard about sharing this story with my readers on “The Purple Jacket” but have come to the conclusion that since our life has been an open book, this experience would be important to share with everyone who has followed our story.

A few months ago one of my longest and best friends said to me; “you have so many wonderful things happening in your life right now, have you ever considered going for a psychic reading?”   My theological background was skeptical, but I was open to the experience.

The experience was more than I could have ever imagined. From my past and present life, to future romance, to business success, every topic was touched without me really saying a word. It was amazing what someone knew about me, who did not know me at all!

Then we moved onto the topic of Richard…

“Richard wants you to know that he has made it to the other side.”

“He’s checking in on you, but spending lots of time in Paris visiting friends” (Richard loved Paris and he and Herman traveled to Paris six times)

“You’ll see a flower, a white flower, I’m not sure what kind of flower, but I know that the flower will be white.  I don’t know when the flower will appear, when you see the flower, that will be Richard telling you that he is okay, that he is with you, encouraging you, wanting to live your life to the fullest and that he will always be with you.”

an-american-in-paris-limited-edition-official-opening-night-playbill-3Two nights later, I attended the spectacular musical “An American In Paris” at The Fox Theater in St. Louis.  Thirty minutes into the performance,  one of the actors walked out on stage with… a white flower!     Yes, my jaw dropped!

There is really no explanation for this phenomenon.  Chance event?  Richard and his love for Paris?  The white flower appearing in a stage play about Paris?  The psychic didn’t know I was going to see that play two days after seeing her.

I’ve shared this story with a couple of trusted friends and now I am sharing it with you. Whether you are an ardent advocate for psychic readings, you do it for fun,  have never done it before, or abhor the thought of psychic readings, seeing the white flower in “An American In Paris” has changed me forever.

And when the evening comes, we smile
So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
(And yes, we’ve just begun)

So much of life ahead: starts with me accepting that no matter what else I think I could have done for Richard, his destiny was predetermined and my caregiving cape is limited.

Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talkin’ it over, just the two of us
Workin’ together day to day
Together
Together

Sharing horizons that are new to us:   Richard had a beautiful sunset to his life; now I am experiencing new horizons. Life is full of new horizons, when we are open to new sunrises.

No matter what side of the aisle you are on in this conversation, the mere fact that a total stranger said to me, “He wants you to know that he’s made it to the other side and he’s Okay” opened up new horizons for me.  Richard was an agnostic Jew, for him, once the “lights went out” that was it.  Over the years we had plenty of conversations about life after death; he was not a believer.  Fro me to be told that “he wants you to know that he’s made it to the other side and he’s Okay” is impactful.

This experience has helped me get to the other side of my grief and start to live again. This does not mean I miss him any less, this simply means that I am can find peace.  My faith tells me that I will see him again; my mind tells me he is forever pain free; my heart tells me he is standing right beside me.

And when the evening comes, we smile
So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
And yes, we’ve just begun

Songwriters
NICHOLS, WILLIAMS

And yes, we’ve just begun:   It’s never too late to start over; it’s never too late to live your dream; it’s never too late to find peace and happiness.   It’s never too late to find your white flower in the midst of a thing called, life after caregiving ends.  

Now, for me:  when the evening comes, we smile! 

Here are some simple reminders to help support you during your caregiving journey: 

  • Try not to isolate yourself from others
  • Asking for help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness
  • Set a daily intention for yourself
  • It’s Okay to admit that caregiving can be difficult
  • Remember to take care of yourself, too!
  • Share your horizons

I used to wish for visiting hours in heaven,  then my good friend Sam said to me: “There wp-1489779515429.jpgare! Every time you have a memory of Richard. Every time you cry. Every time you laugh, Richard is right there with you.” Something tells me that Richard is up there, holding a white flower, too!

Oh and those green shoes you were wondering about? Those green shoes are Richard’s size 7 that he wore once a year on St. Patrick’s day for over 30 years.  White flowers and green shoes…find your keepsake memory.

Read more: The Carpenters – We’ve Only Just Begun Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

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