Tag Archives: LGBT Seniors

The Caregiving Years: Through the Lens of an LGBT Caregiver


Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. John Dewey

Recently I obtained a certification from Caregiving.com to present on the The Caregiving

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Chris MacLellan and his deceased partner, Richard Schiffer. Chris became a full-time family caregiver after Richard’s diagnosis with Esophageal cancer in 2011.  Mr. Schiffer passed away in March of 2014. 

Years: Six Stages To A Meaningful Journey.   On Monday I will present The Caregiving Years at the Florida Council on Aging Conference in Orlando during my presentation on LGBT Caregiving: Is There a Difference?

The six stages of caregiving encompass from the Expectant caregiver to the Godspeed Caregiver and many different stages in between.  On Monday, I will present a preview of The Six Stages of Caregiving while demonstrating the similarities and differences LGBT Caregivers face on a daily basis.

Thanks to Colette Vallee from the Florida Council on Aging, I will be broadcasting live from the conference with special guest all throughout the three day conference.  Be sure to visit me on Spreaker for the podcasts.  Follow me on Twitter @thebowtieguy  with hashtags #fcoa1 and #fcoa2016.

I am available for Work Shops, Presentations, Panel Discussions: some of my curriculum includes…

  • Caregivers as Servant Leaders<>Leadership training for the family Caregiver.
  • The Caregiving Years <>Objective is to learn to create a perspective that best helps you during your caregiving experience
  • LGBT Caregiving: Is There A Difference? <> The Caregiving Years through the lens of an LGBT Caregiver
  • Beginning After Caregiving Ends<>Objective is to learn how to refocus your life after caregiving ends.
  • Spiral of Silence: Caregiving, Stress and its Impact in the Work Place.<>Objective is to learn the financial impact of Caregiving and create a positive workplace culture for family caregivers and employers/

CCC_CHRISShare your knowledge, become a Certified Caregiving Consultant and a Certified Caregiving Educator.

What’s The Deal with Caregiving available on Amazon. Ask Chris 3D1how you can brand “What’s The Deal with Caregiving” to your organization.

Contact Chris about being an upcoming guest on  “HealingTies” at chris@thepurplejacket.com

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Join us in Chicago as an exhibitor for the 1st Annual National Caregiving Conference onNational Caregiving Conference (1) Saturday December 3rd contact me for details on this exciting event!

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Two Years Past


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

We are taking a break from the thesis project today to remember a significant day in our life. For as long as I live, I know March 9th is going to come around every year.  Significant in the sense that I will always remember March 9th as being the day that Richard made his life transition.  Together as one, our lives changed forever on that day in 2014.

Sure, the pain of losing him has gotten softer, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss him quite a bit.  The love we shared is still strong.   I did not want the day to go unnoticed, nor do I want to belabor the point either.   Finding that gentle balance when you lose the love of your life takes time.  Getting over it, means something different to each one of us.  We don’t really get over it, we adjust to it and move on as best we can. The love we shared is still strong in my heart and always present in my life.

I’m not sure what I will do when March 9th rolls around next year, but what I do know for sure is that my faith tells me that I will see him again, my mind tells me that he is forever pain free and my heart tells me that he is standing right behind me.

Enjoy some of our favorite photo’s from our eleven years together.

  Never miss out on a chance to tell that special person in your life that you love them!

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Everyday: Live, Love, Laugh!


God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.  Voltaire

I am taking break from the road to Spokane today to enjoy my 59th birthday. (Don’t tell anyone, but I am going bowling again!) Oh, but don’t worry, writing of chapter 3 is in earnest (please believe me)  and I suspect that my professor and mentor at Gonzaga University will have an update for me to do on  chapter 2 before this weekend is over.

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The MacLellan Six: Jim, JoAnn, Sissy, Chris, Gerri & Mary 

One of the greatest things about being the youngest of six, is that no matter how old I get, I will always be the youngest!  When I was younger, I always thought it was a disadvantage to be the youngest.  But through the years, my philosophy on that has changed.  As I get older, my thoughts on the aging has changed, too.  That is why I love Voltaire’s quote: “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

 

My sister Mary has the best philosophy

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“Sister” Mary and her trademark BIG Sunglasses 

of life, she decided, long ago, to stay 29. I think she might be on her 43rd year of being 29, but who’s counting and why does it matter?   She happily tells everyone that she has kids that are older than her.  It’s all about mind over matter, because age is only a number, it is how you feel that makes the difference.  

 

Aging takes on a different meaning for each one of us. Some of us are old when we are young: Some of us are young when we are old. When Richard’s illness progressed, people were surprised to learn

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photo credit: Lynda Horn

of his age.  His age never showed until the last six months of his life.  Richard lived life to the fullest, he did not let any grass grow underneath his feet. Throughout his entire life, he gave himself the gift of living well.  I always admired him for his philosophy on life.  He took no prisoners.

As caregivers we often forget that our first job is to take good care of ourselves.  This mindset is not selfish, remember “it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”  In the hustle and bustle of caring for someone else, we tend to lose sight of ourselves. I know it happen to me, and I would be willing to bet that losing yourself in the midst of caregiving happened to you too.    In retrospect, I know that my inability to take better care of myself while in the midst of caregiving, has made life after caregiving more difficult.   Thankfully, I can make the choice to give myself the gift of living well.

wp-1455795314060.jpgBirthday’s come and go, some have more meaning than others.  No matter how long I live, I will always admire my sibling for their graceful aging.  Additionally, I will always remember greeting Richard in the doctors office on my 57th birthday to find him sitting there with balloons tied to his chair, waiting for me to arrive so that he could surprise me with his big birthday splash…. It’s a memory etched in stone.

There is much to live, love and laugh when celebrating another birthday, because its not about the number you obtain on your special day,  it is about giving ourselves the gift to live well every day..

Chris MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving?” and the host of “Healing Ties” Radio on Spreaker and UK Health Live

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LGBT Caregiving: Is There A Difference?


The Opinion Which Other People Have Of You Is Their Problem, Not Yours ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

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The Late Bernard Richard Schiffer and Chris MacLellan

Along the way during our Caregiving journey, I have been asked many times, “Are there any difference for same-sex couples in Caregiving?” “No, not really,” I would say, “as Caregivers, we simply care for the one we love.”

Caregiving usually not something that is on our bucket list of things that we want to do, Caregiving just happens!  Suddenly, an untimely diagnose is presented to us, or an unfortunate accident happens, and within a moments notice, two or more lives are changed and you are a family Caregiver. That is why there is no gender or orientation boundaries when it comes to being a family Caregiving, we simply care for the one we love.

Caregiving can be an intense experience which will ask you to surrender yourself and your own needs, for the needs of someonegroup-of-people-in-a-heart-10048754 else. Often you have to give up things you love, in order to care for the one you love.

Is there a theme here about love?

Sure there are some things that all of us can do to make our Caregiving journey “easier.”  Do you have your legal documents in place and up-to-date?  That includes our Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, DNRO (No Not Resuscitate Order) Last Will and Testament: having these documents in place and up-to-date anyone, and readily available regardless of what side of the orientation fence you stand on is critical…for everyone, regardless of what side of the fence you live on!

However, I am not naïve and do realize that there are some differences for LGBT Caregivers.

For instance, Same-sex couples walking into a hospital emergency room are more likely to be “questioned” about the nature of their relationship where as a man and a women,  in the same setting, probably would not often face the same scrutiny. What is “funny” about this is that many of the unmarried heterosexual couples I spoke with after our 2015 Pulitzer Prize nominated story, In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey was published last year did not realize that their rights as a couple we not protected under the law, because they are not married.

In our society, we do not like to talk about death and dying, and that is why many people go years without updating their important legal documents that will ensure their wishes are followed at the time when a life transitions. But when you get right down to it, rights granted by the laws of marriage are mingled with death and dying. Did you know that in every state of the nation the “next of kin” for an adult is the spouse? Once you’ve been denied the right to be with the one you love at the time of their death, then you will fully grasp the meaning of marriage inequality. When asked “who are you’ by medical staff, or to be road signtold, “you’re not next of kin” after your partner has died, clearly demonstrates the injustice.

Has an unmarried heterosexual couple ever been denied the right to be with their loved on at the time life transitions?  My guess is probably so, especially when unscrupulous family members get involved.  LGBT couples know about that experience, too!

Same sex couples have always known a marriage license is not needed to solidify love. However, this license does solidify equal rights. Bigotry and hatred, unfortunately, will always surround us, yet the “license” provides clear legal protection to all married couples, just as having all of our legal documents in place will do for each one of us.

Yes, there are some differences LGBT Caregivers face, the differences maybe subtle to some, yet important to others; mind-boggling , yet fixable. While it is reported that LGBT seniors people are more likely to live alone, more likely not to access medical services in fear discrimination, there are many straight seniors out there who live alone, need transportation, fear going to the doctor.  We are all in the same Caregiving ship, trying to row upstream in a waves that sometimes makes it difficult to navigate.  Why do our “systems” want to hinder care to anyone, that is the puzzling question of them all?

Yes while “systems” might treat LGBT Caregivers differently, there is no doubt that love, care and commitment,  is the same for any two people, no matter what system you have to use, one’s gender or orientation, or who travel with on your Caregiving journey, because in the end, love wins.

P.s., If you have not had your legal documents reviewed by your attorney in the past two years, now is the time to do it pick up the phone, call your attorney, update your documents.  It is the right thing to do!

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

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What’s The Deal With Caregiving


Friends: Today my book, “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” went live on Amazon. My goal with this book is to help guide you through your Caregiving journey, from beginning to end, because Caregiving has no gender or orientation boundaries, we just care for the one we love.

3D1I am dedicating this book to all Caregivers and their Caree’s with an Irish Proverb: “May the road rise up to meet you: May the wind be always at your back: May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home: And may the hand of a friend always be near.”

If you enjoyed reading our Pulitzer Prize Nominated Story, “In Sickness and Health: A Couples Final Journey” I hope you enjoy reading this book as well.

In memory of Bernard Richard Schiffer, I thank all of you for your friendship, support and love.

To purchase “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” on Amazon simply click here! 

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What It Means To Be A Prime Timer


Join us on Wednesday May 27th on Health Café LIVE.com  at 7:00 pm (EDT) as we visit with  Dr.  Loren Olson.  An accomplished author and psychiatrist, Dr. Olson is a champion for LGBT  Seniors. With chapters all over the world, Prime Timers is a terrific organization that enriches the    social lives of LGBT seniors across the globe. On Wednesday’s show, we will chat about what it means to be a Prime Timer, how you can join a chapter in your area, upcoming regional and national events  and most importantly, why socialization is important as we age. Tune in and learn how the Prime Timers and Dr. Loren Olson is creating Healing Ties all around us!

To listen to Healing Ties Radio live on Health Cafe Live simply click here! 

Cannot listen live?     No Worries!! Healing Ties is available on  demand at iHeart Radio by  and now on UK Health Radio.

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A New Bloom


Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson

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Plants on the patio

I have never considered myself to have a green thumb and until recently, quite frankly, always found gardening a little boring.  (Well, not as boring as fishing, but that is for another conversation!)  However, over the past year, I have acquired a few plants and have become fascinated by their growth, their response to water and their placement to the  sun.  It has been interesting to move the plants from one area to another, watching them respond with spurts of growth.  Heck, I’ve even gotten my hands dirty and re-potted a couple of plants.  Talk about going out on a limb! (No pun intended!)

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Lovely yellow and green leaf plant

I wouldn’t say that I know all the names of the different plants, but I do know from studying Latin that green plants are called Viridiplantae.  Some of the plants sit outside on the patio and some sit inside around the house.  Just in the last few weeks, I moved a beautiful yellow and green leaf pant  from the shady side of the porch to the sunning side and immediately, the plant grew about 5 inches.    I have found this process amazing to watch and glad that I have found a new Saturday routine to follow.

I water the plants every Saturday morning and look forward in anticipation to my time with the plants.  Back and forth from the faucet, adding a little plant food to the water, ensuring that the water is not too hot for the plants.   Funny how caring for the plants sounds a little like Caregiving to me!

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Our favorite breakfast stomping ground in Lighthouse Point, FL.

What is interesting about the Saturday routine with watering the plants is that Richard and I had a routine every Saturday were we would go to breakfast and spend the morning together.  On Friday night we would talk about where we wanted to go for breakfast the next morning; we would plan elaborate trips to Miami or to Palm Beach, but more times that not, we always went to our old favorite restaurant in the neighborhood for our bagel and nova sandwich.   My good friend Denise Brown from Caregiving.com pointed out to me the other day about the symbolism of exchanging one routine for another.   I had to chuckle at myself and whole-heartily agreed with Denise.  The exchange of one routine for another, while innocuous at first, has true meaning  and is symbolic of the love, care and commitment that Richard and I shared for each other.

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April 2014

Sure, I check in on the plants during the week to make sure that they are all in good health and prospering.  Yet I was taken back by one special plant today which started my foray into horticulture.  At Richard’s celebration of life last April, my sibling sent me a plant in his memory.  Over the past year, the plant has lost its beautiful blooms. Until this morning when I noticed two new bloom!  I was overcome with joy!

There were times during the past year that I thought the plant was not going to make it.  Yet somehow it bloomed again.  Come to think about it, there have been times over the past year when I did not think I was going to make it.  While the sleepless nights have dissipated, the crying spells have subsided,  the missing of him sitting next to me has never gone away.

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April 2015

 Over the past year, I have read quite a bit about the different theories on the grief process. One theory said 30 seconds of grief is all you need; of course, there is the traditional 3, 6, 12 month theory for grief. From my experience, I really don’t think one particular theory on grief works.   Grief is so personal and so real, and so different for each one of us. Yet there is one theory that I do think applies to each one of us. Like plants that need to be watered in order to regain its bloom, we too, in our grief process, need to be watered so that we can bloom again.  There is no time-table for a new bloom, but without the proper nurturing and care, our soil does become dry and whither away.

 The symbolism of this new bloom comes exactly one year to the day when our Caregiving story, In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey was published in the Sun-Sentinel. I beamed a big smile of joy for the new bloom today because I was reminded how important it is stay the course and…to be watered.   And I shed a tear of joy knowing that this new bloom is Richard’s way of telling me that he is at peace and right beside me.

I think I will keep this plant for quite a long time, because I just don’t water the plant, the plant waters me, too!

Chris MacLellan is the Host of Healing Ties Radio which can be heard on

Health Cafe Live, iHeart Radio and UK Health Radio.

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LGBT Caregiving on Healing Ties Radio


Join us on Wednesday, April 1st at 7 pm EST on HealthCafeLive.com as we visit with Ernest    Olivas from Emerald Elite Senior Home Care in Wilton Manors, FL.  Serving the senior LGBT        community in the greater Fort Lauderdale area, Ernest and the staff at Emerald Elite Senior Home Care understand the concerns LGBT
Seniors have when accessing care.  We will talk about the      issues facing LGBT seniors and accessing care and how the staff at Emerald Elite match all their      clients with the right professional Caregiver.    Tune in and hear our ’Healing Ties’ Juke Box song       selected by our guest and  learn how Ernest and Emerald Elite Senior Home Health Care is creating Healing Ties all around us!  Cannot listen live?  NO WORRIES!  Healing Ties is available on demand on our Healing Ties iHeart Channel

To listen to the show live…Simply click here! 

To listen on demand at iHeart Radio, Simply click here! 

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One Year Later


Love Has No Age; Love Has No Limits; Love Has No Death!

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Photo Credit: Carline Jean Sun-Sentinel

 

The year of ‘firsts’ is coming to an end, so it seems fitting that I publish this post today,  March 9, 2015  at 1:20 pm.  As Diane Lade so eloquently wrote on April 13, 2014 in her Pulitzer Prize nominated story; “Richard loved opera and classical music, and they were lsc_the-mikadolistening to the joyful finale of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado”: The threatened cloud has passed away, and fairly shines the dawning day! What though the night may come too soon, we’ve years and years of afternoon. From his seat at the table, Chris suddenly looked at the hospital bed across the room. Chris saw Richard shrug and turn his head toward him. At 1:20 p.m. on March 9, 2014, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Bernard Richard Schiffer died.” 1.

Richard loved opera, in fact, I remember him taking me to my first opera, ‘Madam Butterfly’ in 2006.  “This will be a good first opera for you because it is not too heavy.” Of course, the sentimental side of me said upon leaving the theater that evening, “You didn’t tell me it was going to be such a sad ending.”  He just smiled and laughed at me as we walked down the sidewalk for dinner.  It was fitting that we were listening to Opera on that ‘sunny Sunday afternoon’ as Richard spirit was lifted up, pain-free for eternity.

My year of ‘firsts’ has had its ups and downs.  We move on with our heads held high, taking the good days with the bad, the bad days with the good, and all that goes on in-between.  I’m still trying to find my place in my year of ‘firsts.’ Leaving my job at Sun-Serve, spending extended time in New Orléans,  going out on my own with my radio show, Healing Ties on iHeart Radio,   learning the group cruise business, becoming theNational Caregiving Advocate for Answers for Elders . com all of which has proved to be a challenge, but very rewarding too. Yet there is that empty feeling which seems to linger, and never go away.  So many of you, near and far, have been so kind and so supportive.  I find so much comfort from your thoughtfulness.

As I reflect today on my life with Richard, I can sum it up into one sentence…I am lucky to be loved in the way that I am loved by him.  Unlike Madam Butterfly, we did not have a sad ending, just a new beginning, it is the adjustment period that makes this year of ‘firsts’ so difficult at times.  As I have written before, my faith tells me that I will see him again, my mind tells me that he is forever pain-free, and my heart tells me that he is right next to me. Because in the end, just as in the beginning, love is the winner!

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1. Lade, D., & Jean, C. (2014, April 13). In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey. Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved from http://interactive.sun-sentinel.com/lgbt-dying-couple/

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52 Years And Still Going Strong!


Join us on Wednesday January 14th  at 7 pm EST on HealthCafeLive.com for an enlightening  conversation with Bob Collier and Chuck Hunziker.  What is so special about Bob and Chuck…EVERYTHING!  Bob and Chuck are both veterans, pillars in their community and they just happen to be a couple celebrating 52 years together!  Both in their 80’s, Bob and Chuck, never meant to be activists or plaintiffs in a lawsuit that would change Florida law, they just   happen to be two people who want the world to be a better place for all of us to live. This is a couple who is creating ‘Healing Ties’ all around us!

Can’t listen live on Wednesday?  NO Worries!  Healing Ties radio is available on demand on iHeartRadio/HealingTies by clicking here!

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