Tag Archives: Caregiving

When You Need Some Help: 5 Reasons to Join a Caregiver Support Group


In a world that seems to have lost the idea of the “village,” sometimes we feel pressured to be able to do it all. Asking for assistance or admitting that you are overwhelmed feels like failure, and we often think that we’re being judged by others as not good enough. And that’s just with normal, everyday life.

When you find yourself caring for a loved one, the pressure increases. You are expected to take on this additional burden with a smile, and your willingness to do so seems to be a measurement of your love; expressing your anger or frustration to friends and family earns you appalled looks of disbelief. The good news is that there is a village for you; a caregiver support group. Here are 5 reasons why you should think about joining one.

To Reduce Stress

Perhaps the primary reason to join a support group for caregivers is to reduce your stress levels. Simply having that hour to yourself every week is an important step in separating yourself from the role of caregiver and reclaiming your identity. Being under excessive stress can have negative consequences for both your physical health, and your mental well-being. Maintaining your own well-being is essential to being able to properly care for your loved one.

To Gain a Safe Space

You won’t find any disapproving looks or judgment in a support group. Support groups are by their very nature a confidential and judgment-free zone, where you can discuss your frustrations and less than charitable thoughts with people who understand exactly what you’re going through. They can help alleviate your feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and when you admit to selfish thoughts and attitudes, they will nod their heads and tell you that they understand.

To Reduce Feelings of Isolation

When you’re a caregiver for someone else, it’s easy to find yourself feeling alone, both literally and emotionally. When you can’t leave your loved one to go have a drink with your friends, or you spend all your waking time tending to someone else’s needs, you often find that you don’t have any social interactions. All your contacts are with the person you’re caring for, or their healthcare professionals. Emotionally, it appears nobody else understands you and it’s difficult to relate to those outside your situation. Joining a support group puts you in touch with other people who get it.

To Prevent Burnout

If you end up caring for someone else for too long, without any support system in place for yourself, you’re likely going to suffer from burnout. You’ll reach a point where caring for someone has taken such a toll on you that you are incapable of continuing, and many times, you’ll lose your identity and sense of self. Caregivers leave their support groups feeling refreshed and empowered to keep going. Members can point you in the direction of other resources and programs that can assist you. You may be able to find help with meals, respite care, or even an opportunity to hire a part-time caregiver to relieve you.

To Gain Insights and Advice

Being part of a support group is one of the best ways to find valuable advice and information about caregiving. Everyone has their own methods for dealing with stress, setting boundaries, and finding time for self-care. Having the knowledge of so many others freely available can help you to discover which tips and tricks will work best for you. They may be even able to help prepare you for what to expect down the road.

Joining a caregiver support group may be the best thing that you can do for yourself during this trying time. It will help you maintain your own well-being while caring for another.

About Audrey:

Audrey Robinson is a careers blogger, supporting online knowledge libraries like BizDb. Audrey enjoys working with people from different professions, sharing her tips for self-improvement, improving one’s career opportunities and preventing burnout. Feel free to reach out to her on @AudreyyRobinson.

 

 

 

 

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Why Hobbies Are Important For Caregivers


Why Hobbies Are Important For Caregivers

For the estimated 43.5 million caregivers in the US who provide unpaid care to an adult or child, stress and anxiety are negative health effects that may affect the level of caregiving they are providing. Family caregivers need relief from the stressful duties of caring for loved ones and one of the ways to accomplish this is to engage in enjoyable activities for a healthier lifestyle. Recent studies show that individuals who are involved in meaningful activities are less stressed and sad. It does not matter what hobbies are taken up, the act of doing something you like to do slows down heart rates and is calming. If you are a caregiver, keeping your hobbies and finding time for them will not only relieve you of the stress or anxiety you feel but also help you do your duties better when you are relaxed and energized.

Why hobbies are important in caregiving

The task of caregiving is not only physically demanding but also takes a toll on your mental and psychological condition. Whether you have a full-time job and care for loved ones after work or took time off to become a full-time carer, there is no doubt that you need to step out every so often, treat or do something for yourself. If you have been pursuing interests before, there is no need to give them up because of caregiving. In fact, it even becomes a necessity to continue your hobbies for they are helpful in boosting your energy levels and reducing stress. Pretty much like the exercise that you love to do, having a hobby achieves the same purpose. It stimulates your mind, improves functioning and assists in providing a better quality of care for patients or those under your wings.

Sharing interests with loved ones

Going out to the movies, knitting, drawing, photography, walks in parks, exercising, swimming and other leisure activities are some examples of hobbies that you can start or go back to. It’s even better if you can share these hobbies with the person you are caring for. Introducing a loved one to a hobby that you can do together not only makes it easy to be present around a patient but also helps their physical and mental condition. Hobbies that specifically make use of outdoor settings are very healthy not only for the fresh air that you breathe, but also for the opportunity to enjoy nature, stretch those limbs and just appreciate the surroundings. And if your patient or loved one is up to it, you can take walks together or even gardening. Sharing your hobby with them can also make a big difference in their mood.

Attending to someone’s daily needs is not an easy task. It can burn you out, making caregiving a daily challenge. Taking up new hobbies, reviving old ones or sharing them with your loved ones and family can help reduce stress and assist in providing a good quality of care.

Guest Writer: “Jess Walter  is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.”

Jess Walter <jesswalterwriter@gmail.

 

 

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How to Manage Your Finances as a Caregiver


More than 34 million Americans currently provide unpaid care to loved ones over the age of 50. This can include dropping by to check on their loved one’s well-being, shopping for groceries and assisting with the activities of daily living (ADL). It can include ferrying older people to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy or hospitals. Caregiving can also involve monitoring prescription medication and making sure doctors’ orders are followed.

These multiple caregiving activities have one thing in common: they can erode or even severely damage your finances.

It’s very easy to start spending your own money in caregiving activities. It may start as a bag of groceries or a home-cooked meal. But it can also get larger and deeper very fast. You may renovate your parents’ home to make it safer for elderly living, or you may need to pay part of their mounting medical bills.

Among Americans, 46 percent spend more than $5,000 of their own money caring for elderly relatives yearly. Another 30 percent spends up to $10,000 yearly.

Before you know it, your own finances are in danger. You may have difficulty paying bills. You may take out a second mortgage on your home. You may max out your credit cards or use up rainy day or retirement savings.

The sums spent are compounded by the fact that caregivers often cut back on paying work to give care. Many transition to part-time work which can lead to less cash coming in just when you are spending more.

Fortunately, there are ways to more effectively manage your finances as a caregiver. All caregivers are entitled to look after themselves. After all, if they don’t, they won’t have any energy or patience left to give care with.

Here are the most important ways to manage your finances.

Create a Budget for Yourself

It’s essential to create a budget. Without it, people may tend to be somewhat in the dark about what they are actually spending their money on, and how frequently.

The first step is to start keeping track of what you spend every day, week and month. There are several software programs that allow you to do this — and a spreadsheet or even a small notebook can do the trick as well.

Don’t just guess. Guessing may lead you to believe you are spending $10 on coffee per week when stress has made you spend closer to $10 per day.

Only when you see these figures laid out in front of you will you know how much you are spending. If it matches or is less than your income, great! If it exceeds your income, you need to make some cuts or raise your income.

Create a Budget for Your Loved One

You need a budget for your loved one. You should know how much income your loved one has coming in.

You also need to create a spreadsheet of how much your loved one is spending per day. Then begin to enter it on a spreadsheet for each week and month.

If your loved one has income such as Social Security, retirement distributions or a pension, see how much of their daily expenses it covers. Be sure to leave enough for health insurance and deductibles.

Discuss the Budget With Family Members

If you have siblings or other concerned family members, it’s time to have a meeting once the budget is done. Include your loved one, of course, if that is feasible. If your loved one’s income meets their needs, it’s time for you to stop spending your own cash.

If the income exceeds their needs, broach the idea of the caregiver being paid out of the surplus. It’s not unreasonable for all needs of the loved one to come out of their own funds. Some older people may need help with paying bills and balancing checkbooks.

If the caregiving is extensive and the caregiver has curtailed work, see if the caregiver can be paid out of the loved one’s funds. You want to hold a family meeting so that the use of the funds is transparent and doesn’t cause misunderstanding or hard feelings. If you can be paid, keep a record of all payments for future reference.

Discuss Sharing Arrangements

If the loved one’s funds aren’t sufficient to pay a caregiver, discuss other options with your family. Some common options are:

  • Share caregiving duties with other family members.
  • Engage respite care to give the caregiver a break at least once a week.
  • Hire a live-in caregiver at least part of the time with family members chipping in on the salary.
  • Move the loved one to be closer to you if that eases the financial burden.
  • Move the loved one to an assisted care facility, nursing home or specialized care facility.

If none of these options is realistic for your situation, it might be time to look for other sources of funding.

Look Into Other Funding Sources

Multiple organizations offer potential funding. Medicaid options vary by state, but some offer an allowance for care. They also sometimes have information on other funding sources.

If your state or municipality has services for seniors, ask about what they offer in terms of respite care and funding.

Veterans of the U.S. armed forces should contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans who might otherwise have to move into a nursing home have access to a Veteran-Directed Home and Community-Based Services program. It has provisions for managing care, including paying hired caregivers.

The takeaway here is that you don’t necessarily have to compromise your own financial peace of mind to care for an older loved one. Instead, look into these potential sources of help.

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

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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  marcus@psysci.co.uk

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7 Ways to Care for Someone in a Way That Improves Their Wellbeing


Out of the many things that human beings deeply desire, being cared for is likely to be on most people’s list, especially as they grow older. There are times in your life when you may not be able to care for yourself, and this could be as a result of sickness, disease, or disability. In moments such as these, vulnerability is often inevitable, and a helping hand is needed. Whether you happen to be a caregiver or you’re looking after someone you love, there are ways that you can care for them that will help them mentally, emotionally, and physically. This article will explore 7 ways that you can care for someone in a way that will improve their overall wellbeing.

Suggest Healthy Eating

When caring for someone, you often think about ways that you can help them feel and look better. Although there are numerous ways to make this happen, healthy eating is also a proven method you could encourage. Whether someone is suffering from an illness or healthy, choosing the right foods and drinks to consume can enhance their wellbeing. Some diet suggestions to think about include picking lean meat instead of fatty meat, opting for non-fat or 1% milk, choosing breads and cereals made from whole grains, and, of course, drinking plenty of water. You should make a note that not all foods that have fat, cholesterol, and sodium are bad. It is more about being able to strike a balance and not overindulge. Some of the positive ways that eating healthy can improve wellbeing are by making ones physical, mental, social and intellectual health better which could ultimately help improve their quality of life.

Encourage Regular Exercise

Similar to healthy eating, regular exercise has the potential to improve the holistic wellbeing of someone you’re caring for. There are so many different types of exercises they can engage in, so consider exploring a variety of them until you find one that they enjoy. If you’re thinking about what type of exercise to try out, jogging, going for long walks, yoga, stretching, swimming, bike riding, or playing a sport with low impact is ideal. The primary objective is to ensure they remain active and keep their organs healthy. Seeing as the four most important exercises are said to be aerobic exercise, strength training, stretching, and balance exercises, you could find an exercise routine that incorporates all four. Additionally, you should avoid encouraging strenuous exercises if the person you’re caring for isn’t physically well.

Aside from regular exercise, if your loved one is recovering from an injury or looking for natural ways to treat a disease, you should click here to explore possible physical therapy solutions. No matter what the status of the person you’re caring for is, if they’re capable of exercise, because of the many benefits, it is something that should be encouraged.

Help Them Find Hobbies

When caring for someone, keeping them engaged from time to time is key. This is because spending large amounts of time with anyone and doing the same routine on a daily basis can become tedious and cause unnecessary tension and frustrations at times. One way to avoid this and keep both of you engaged and in high spirits is by suggesting hobbies that they can do on their own, with you, or with a group of other people. If you don’t already know, find out what their interests are and see how they can turn that into a daily or weekly hobby they use to fill some of their free time. One way that you can help them find a hobby that they will enjoy is by asking them specific questions. Some of them include whether they would like more independent or social hobbies, what they enjoy, and what their budget is. Once those things are determined, you can help them overcome any fears they may have about starting and keep trying until they find one that sticks.

The benefits of finding a hobby include helping to better cope with stress, keeping them mentally engaged, the opportunity to make social connections, and also bringing feelings of happiness, even if it’s only momentarily.

Help Them Maintain Relationships

Relationships are one of the things that give many people’s lives meaning. Even if you only have one consistent relationship in your life, it can go a long way. In this light, encouraging someone you care for to maintain positive relationships is something that you should consider. It can be so easy to become busy with life or become overwhelmed with self-pity, grief or sadness especially when suffering from a disability, injury or illness. These negative feelings can often become a hindrance to maintaining relationships with family and friends. Typically, this is because they can begin to become withdrawn and sometimes even reclusive. You, however, can suggest that they spend a few hours a daily or monthly with people who make them feel happy and good about themselves. They could spend this time indoors, or they may choose to go somewhere fun where they can talk, laugh and forget about their worries. Doing this should help them feel connected, loved, and also significant. Sometimes, positive relationships help people remember that they are important and also needed. You could also suggest that they spend a few minutes a day calling or texting people who are important to them to help their emotional wellbeing,

Make Sure They Get Regular Check-ups

Not everyone is a fan of doctors, hospitals and needles. Part of helping someone live their best life and improve their wellbeing is ensuring they are healthy. You should suggest regular check-ups with the doctor, dentist and a psychiatrist where needed. This should ensure that they’re okay and there is nothing going on that is undiscovered. If the person you’re caring for is sick, it is likely that they get regular check-ups anyway. On those premises, you can ensure they keep up with their medications and subscriptions and are taking the correct dosage at the right time every day. If they’ve opted for more natural remedies in terms of treatment, then the same applies in terms of ensuring they’re keeping up and you assist them in any way that you can.

Get Some Fresh Air

You’d be surprised at what good some fresh air could do for someone that you’re caring for. If they happen to be disabled, on bed rest, or sick, you may find that you happen to spend a lot of time indoors. It can get stuffy, boring and sometimes even depressing when you look at the same four walls on a daily basis. For this reason, you should think about taking them for a walk regularly even if it’s just around the neighborhood. As long as they’re able to change their environment and stretch their legs, then it is a job well done. You could decide to find different places to go such as the park, a museum, or to the mall to have a look around if that’s possible. The reality is that getting some fresh air may boost their mood, make them feel livelier, and also give them a deeper sense of appreciation for life and their circumstances. In case you didn’t know, there are also several health benefits of getting fresh air which include boosting the immune system, increasing happiness, providing boosts of energy, helping the digestive system and cleaning the lungs.

Communicate with Them Regularly

Talking is an important aspect of caring for someone as it’s a form of communication. As well as showing someone that you care, telling them is also important. You can do so by saying kind and encouraging words to them regularly. You can also commend them for areas that they’re excelling in to help boost their self-confidence. Additionally, it is also important that you get them to talk about how they feel. Although some people are more open than others are, using different techniques to get them to open up is imperative. Some techniques to consider are promoting trust, respect, safety and openness, being patient, stating your intentions where necessary, and being open yourself. In regard to the last point, you may find that your loved one is more inclined to open up when you are free and tell them how you’re feeling on a regular basis. Getting them to talk is so important because keeping things bottled inside can create sadness, anxiety and depression, which are mental health illness that need proper treatment.

Caring for people can be a demanding thing to do. It can also be equally rewarding. This is especially true when you’re able to see noticeable levels of growth, progress and improved health in the person that you care for. A large part of life consists of the connections that you make with other individuals and caring for a person is just another means of connecting. Every individual has their unique needs when it comes to how they would like to be cared for, but when it comes to improving a person’s general wellbeing, health, happiness, and connecting to those who matter are usually effective ways of going about it.

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  maggiehammond57@gmail.com

 

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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.

Email address: maggiehammond57@gmail.com

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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 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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