Tag Archives: ThePurpleJacket.com

6 Skills You Need to Have as a Caregiver


Whether it’s a career you want to pursue or something you want to do to use your time to give back, being a caregiver is both a challenging and rewarding experience. People do it every day all over the globe to make sure their loved ones and others get the care and help they need. It’s a selfless job for anyone who wants to take it on, and like all other jobs, you should have certain skills before you step into the role.

Beginning your journey as a caregiver before you know if you’re ready for it would be a major problem. Not only would you be putting yourself in a bad position, but you’d be preventing someone from getting the quality care they need. Read on to see which skills are most important for you to have as a caregiver.

Find out what you can do to improve those skills if you find yourself lacking, but don’t let yourself be discouraged. If you’re passionate about caregiving, that love and effort will shine through.

1. Communication

Your ability to communicate is another skill you’ll constantly improve as a caregiver. Not everyone communicates in the same way, especially if the person you’re caring for has limited communication abilities.

You’ll need to be quick to pick up how they communicate best and then work with them to become a better team. You may also need to be able to translate their needs to other family members or caregivers. Ensuring you have good communication skills will improve the lives of everyone involved with your caregiving.

2. Compassion

Compassion is something everyone should have a good grasp on, because it makes you a better person and promotes a positive environment for the people around you. It’s especially good to have as a caregiver because you’ll be able to empathize and easily understand your patient’s point of view. Showing genuine compassion will pass on a higher level of kindness to the person you’re working with, which will make them more comfortable and trusting.

3. Problem Solving

Every day, you use your problem-solving skills to get through your daily routine. You might need to locate missing supplies or adapt to quickly changing work situations. In an emergency medical situation, you could need to know legal issues of caregiving. Whatever happens, you can find a new solution, which is invaluable as a caregiver.

The person you assist will depend on you, so if something doesn’t work out according to plan, you’ll need to know how to solve problems on the go. This skill is something you’ll hone throughout your career, but be confident in it before you become a caregiver.

4. Organization

Caregiving isn’t only about meeting a person’s physical and emotional needs. It’s also about maintaining their quality of life. That means planning hospital visits, scheduling doctor appointments, keeping track of medications and balancing their social life. If you’re a caregiver for a parent, this also means you should have preparations for emergencies. Juggling all these things means you’ll need to be great at organization to be a caregiver. The better you can handle the aspects of a person’s life who needs assistance, the happier they’ll be.

5. Patience

Providing care to someone who needs it is something you can do to bring joy to their lives, but it won’t come without challenges. You’re going to be building a relationship with your patient as well as meeting their needs. These needs may seem like a lot at first, when you’re not used to what they need and how they live. Patience will be essential to your success, so practice patience daily, because going into caregiving with a quick temper won’t lead to anything good.

6. Positivity

Before you start looking after anyone, it’s always a good idea to try to consider the situation from their perspective. They may have transitioned from an independent life to one where they need to depend on someone else for help, and that can be hard. They’ll have individual challenges that will frustrate them, and you’ll need to be there for them even at their most difficult moments. Do your best to remain positive in all situations, because genuine positivity easy to share.

Giving back to someone through your job or a volunteer opportunity can change their day, week or even their whole life. Be sure you’ve got the skills you need before you enter that role. Maintaining a positive attitude, always being organized and having compassion will take you far in the role of a caregiver.

Practice these things so when the time comes for you to take care of someone in need, you can be the best person possible for them to depend on.

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Caregiving, Guest Blogger

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.

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Caregiver Stress, Caregiving, Guest Blogger

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.

20171215_003650

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.

WP PJ Banner

Leave a comment

Filed under Caregiving

Toula’s Tips: Caregiver Burnout — It’s Real!


Today we welcome my good friend and guest writer, Toula Wootan from Toula’s Tips for Caregivers to “The Purple Jacket”

 Have you ever felt like this? If so, you are certainly not alone. It’s so very common. Here are a few symptoms to let you know if you are experiencing caregiver burnout:

  • Overreacting to minor nuisances

  • Feeling constantly exhausted

  • Losing interest in work

  • Decrease in productivity at work

  • Withdrawing from social contacts

  • Increasing use of alcohol or stimulants

  • Change in eating patterns

  • Change in sleeping patterns

  • Increasing use of medications for sleeplessness, anxiety or depression

  • Inability to relax

  • Scattered thinking

  • Feeling increasingly resentful

  • Being short-tempered with care recipient frequently

Do you see yourself in the above? If so, perhaps it’s time to take a step back, or perhaps to take a real time-out.

How, you say? If you don’t have family or friends who can step in, there are many support services to help you do this. Many assisted living facilities offer respite, a short-term stay. There are also many adult day care centers in our area, and we have many companion/sitter agencies. Perhaps you qualify for Aging True — they have a team of volunteers who can sit with your loved one occasionally.

 Whatever it takes, take a break so you can rest, do something for yourself, renew your perspective and refresh. It’s essential. I like the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

 I am the primary caregiver for both of my parents and work full-time, leading caregiving initiatives! I keep these eight things in mind to help me: sunshine, fresh air, exercise, prayer, water, diet, rest and laughter. Do they resonate with you? They are simple but make a big difference. So does having fun with friends! Don’t forget that.

 I hope these help you. As always, thank you for caring.

 

Toula Wootan

 Toula’s Tips for Caregivers, can now be hear on Spreaker.com/user/toulastipsforcaregivers or from Toula’s website at ToulasTipsforCaregivers.com.  You can email Toula at toulastips@gmail.com

Thank you Toula for all you do for Caregivers in Jacksonville and all over the country!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Caregiving, Guest Bloggers

Having The Talk: How To Make End Of Life Wishes Easier


The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Richard and I during one of our many talks about what he wanted. This conversation centered around his medication.

Having “The Talk” does not have to be hard or difficult, yet the talk does have to happen at some point in our lives.   I’m not referring to the birds and the bees talk our parents have with us when we are adolescents. “The Talk” I am referring to is the talk we have with our loved ones about end-of-life wishes.

As a caregiver, one of our most important roles, if not the most important one of them all, is to be an  advocate. How can one advocate if you do not know the wishes or desires of the person in your care?  Richard and I always had the ability to talk openly about his wishes. In fact, our end-of-life conversation happened spontaneously; by the end of the conversation, our tears of love and joy were comforted by the knowledge that I knew exactly what he wanted.  “I will tell you when I am ready for hospice” he bellowed…Yes you did!

the talk

Click on the image to purchase Jack’s book

Recently I had the opportunity to visit with Jack Tatar who has written a book called “Having the Talk.”  “Having the Talk” focuses on ways to begin a family discussion earlier rather than later, about planning for the later life issues of a retired or retiring parent. Jack’s research demonstrated to him people have “the Talk”, but they have it too late, either when there’s little that can be changed, or after expectations have been set by siblings about “who gets what.” When this happens, families are torn apart, and loved ones who played together and protected each other throughout their entire lives now find themselves not talking to each other, usually all the way to their deathbeds.

Here is our recent episode of “Healing Ties” featuring Jack Tatar as we discuss how to have those difficult end-of-life conversation.  

While I understand not everyone is going to be able to have the same experience of having “The Talk” like Richard and I did, let me share a few suggestions on how you might approach this delicate conversation:

  • Always use open-ended question
  • Don’t force the conversation, if there is strong resistance, back off and revisit it at another time
  • Express the importance of  the need for you to be comforted, knowing that by following their wishes, makes it easier on you
  • Enlist the help of an objective third-party
  • Use examples of family and friends.
  • Learn about The Five Wishes 

I believe there are two common aspects to caregiving that everyone experiences, there is a beginning and there is an end, and in most cases, we are not prepared for either one of these life changing events!  It is difficult to plan for the unexpected, but having a plan in place does help temper the confusion when an emergency happens.

Have the talk…you will be glad that you did!

 

wp-1448474801512.jpeg wpid-wp-1448113432219.jpeg

Christopher MacLellan, MA is a Certified Senior Advisor, Certified Caregiving Consultant, the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving?” and the host of “Healing Ties™” podcast.

All rights reserved ©WholeCareNetwork, Inc.

1 Comment

Filed under Caregiving

Webinar: Working and Caregiving Survey Results


e6d06522-963a-4fad-8fa6-11992d1bee66I was most thankful to participate in Caregiving.com  annual Working Family Caregiver Survey earlier this year.  Your participation helped me earn my masters degree in Leadership and Communication from Gonzaga University in Spokane Washington.  On Thursday, June 9th, join me with Denise Brown from Caregiving.com for our webinar on Working Family Caregivers as we discuss the results of the 2016 survey.   Follow the link below to register for a reminder for Thursday’s webinar via Caregiving.com: See Denise Brown’s post below.   See you on Thursday!

Topic: Second Annual Working and Caregiving Survey Results

Day and Time: Thursday, June 9, at Noon ET (11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, 9 a.m. PT)

A 2012 report released by AARP found that 42% of U.S. workers provided unpaid eldercare for a family member or friend over the last five years. And, 49% expect to do so in the coming five years. Caring for a family member is a workplace problem.

To better understand their experiences, we asked working family caregivers to share in our Second Annual Working Family Caregiver Survey. We partnered with Chris MacLellan (@thebowtieguy), who used our survey results for his thesis. Chris is the author of “What’s the Deal with Caregiving?” and the host of “Healing Ties,” a weekly radio show. You can learn more about his work on his website, www.thebowtieguy.com.

Join us for this 45-minute webinar during which Chris and Denise M. Brown, founder of CareGiving.com, share the results of the Second Annual Working and Caregiving Survey.

Register to receive a reminder for our webinar below.

 

Register to receive a reminder for our webinar below by following this link: http://www.caregiving.com/caregiving-webinars/webinar-working-and-caregiving-survey-results/

2 Comments

Filed under Caregiving

We Might Have Cancer, But Cancer Never Had Us


I learned through social media that Sunday June 5th is National Cancer Survivors Day which reminded me of the motto Richard  and I lived by after he was diagnosed  with esophageal cancer in 2011 -“We Might Have Cancer, But Cancer Never Had Us.”  Even in some of our most difficult days, we always stuck by our motto because it freed us from the burden of cancer. Sure, we were aware of the reality of the diagnosis, but the fact of the matter is, Richard outlived his original prognosis by more than two years.   I’m confident that  our motto kept us strong throughout the ordeal of dealing with his cancer diagnosis.

I started The Purple Jacket blog not to long after Richard  was diagnosed with cancer.  I remember the day the diagnoses came in quite well, “Mr. Schiffer has a massive growth where the esophagus and stomach attach” said the gastroenterologist.  After beating prostrate cancer, two cardiac by-pass surgeries, Richard looked at me and said, “I guess this will be something that will eventually take me.”  Richard was a realist, that was one of the many qualities I admired about him.

As I think about National Cancer Survivors day, I am reminded about the importance of caregivers sharing our stories with each other.  Writing the blog helped me and Richard cope with the diagnosis.  Our story in the Sun-Sentinel, In Sickness and In Health:  A Couples Final Journey  had a major impact on the importance of  sharing ones story.  I encourage everyone, as they feel comfortable, to share as much of their caregiving story as they possibility can. Sharing ones caregiving story, albeit it cancer, Alzheimer’s, or whatever health calamity you and your caree face, is a good antidote for any insidious  diagnosis, like cancer.

As we age and face different life challenges, we can look back on pictures to help tell the story of what we don’t see right before our eyes.   (2003 thru 2014 – click on the picture to see the year it was taken)

Pictures do tell a thousand stories.  What I did not see in January of 2014, was because I was looking at 2003.  The reality of a cancer diagnosis has a profound affect on everyone.  Sharing ones story has a profound affect too.  It reminds us that we are not alone in our caregiving journey.

I encourage you to share your caregiving story as you feel comfortable because cancer can never take away our love.  You see…”We Might Have Cancer, But Cancer Never Had Us”

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Caregiving

Graduate: A Thesis Complete


An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. Benjamin Franklin

The road to Spokane has come to a happy ending with the completion and acceptance of my thesis entitled… Spiral of Silence:  Caregiving, Stress and its Impact in the Workplace.   

Originally proposed by German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann in 1974, Spiral of Silence is the term meant to refer to the tendency of people to remain silent when they feel that their views are in opposition to the majority view on a subject.  My theory suggested that working family caregivers, fearful of losing their job, do not self-identify at work because they feel that they are in the minority.  I am happy to report that 75% of the respondents who indicated that they did self-identify at work found some form of relief.  However, 25% of the respondents who did not self-identify at work as a family caregiver, were fearful of losing their job or that self-identifying would be of no help to them.  I am very grateful to Denise Brown from Caregiving.com for allowing me to take part in Caregiving.com yearly working family caregiving survey.  Please feel free to reach out to Denise Brown at denise@caregiving.com if you have any further questions about the working family caregiving survey and how you might get a copy.

Of course there is much more to the thesis; we have more work to do to bring awareness to the epidemic of stress that working family caregivers face on a daily basis.

It is difficult to find the words to describe the feeling of earning a Master’s Degree GU_logoin Leadership and Communication from Gonzaga University. I love the Jesuit tradition and the spirit of Gonzaga. Professor Michael Hazel has been terrific throughout the entire process, as have all of the staff at the University. I will always remember Dr. Hazel’s sage advice at the beginning of the thesis in January, when my goals were bigger than the time frame, “The best thesis is a completed thesis.”  Michael Hazel knows his “stuff!” It is a good feeling to have the thesis completed, an even better feeling to now be an alumnus of Gonzaga.  It is nice to know there are life-long friends in Spokane, WA.

11410888-smooth-road-ahead-good-times-recovery-yellow-street-sign-1is84y6I am getting ready to embark on a new road, (one that is not virtual as was my road to Spokane); I look ahead with anticipation and excitement because I am creating a life to love after caregiving ends through writing, radio, travel and advocacy.

Leave your limiting self-doubts behind and go and grab the life you have always dreamed.

That is my new road to follow!

Chris MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving” and the executive producer and host of “Healing Ties” radio show  and a alumni of Gonzaga University!

 

4 Comments

Filed under Caregiving, On The Road To Spokane

It’s All About Forgiveness


To understand is to forgive, even oneself. Alexander Chase

The road to Spokane is in its final stages as there are only two chapters left to write for my thesis “Caregiving, Stress and its Impact in the Work Place.”   I owe a big thanks to Denise Brown from Caregiving.com for helping me gather statistics for the thesis.   I had two hypothesis to prove in my thesis, so far the data tells me that I was able to prove one of them.  I will be sure to reveal the results of the study in May after the thesis has been approved and submitted.

20160323_081923.jpgWhile attending the American Society on Aging Conference in Washington, D.C., I was struck by not only the information that delivered at the conference, but the commitment of the professionals in attendance.  Another added benefit was the chance to connect with quite a number of social networking friends, people who I have collaborated with of the years online, yet have never had the opportunity to meet in person.  I was fortunate to be able to attend this event.

Something hit me square in the eye while in Washington, D.C. that is difficult to explain, but quite profound.   During one of our discussions at the conference, I suggested to the group that there is plenty of information for caregivers and those who are in the  aging profession, but I did not see much information on life after caregiving ends.  (A few eyebrows where raised when I made this point!) Yes, there is an estimated 43 million family caregivers today in the United States, but what happens to caregivers when caregiving ends?   Do family caregivers just go back to  daily life without recognizing, or better yet, dealing with the dramatic change in life when caregiving ends?

I had to look inside my heart for that answer.  And for me, that answer centered around forgiveness.

In order to fully grasps and move on with life after caregiving,  I had to first forgive myself, forgive myself for moving on with my life.  Seems strange after all most two years past Richard’s life transition, but yes, life after caregiving has to include a bit of self-forgiveness.   I then had to  forgive myself for the bad decisions I made during and especially after caregiving ended.  I had to forgive myself for not taking better care of myself both physically , emotionally, spiritually and financially.  But most of all, I had to forgive myself for being afraid to continue on with my life after caregiving ended.

HealingProjectYou see, caregiving was just a small portion of our life together.  Time wise, eleven years together, pales in comparison in relation to the six months of intensive caregiving that transpired in our relationship.  However those six months of intensive caregiving takes a relationship to new heights, new destinations and at least in our case, a deeper love and commitment that is impossible to replace.  I marvel, and often wonder about couples who have been together 30, 40, 50 years then suddenly find themselves in the role of a family caregiver.

Our time in caregiving ends: Our time in love is endless. 

For me, life after caregiving is about learning to forgive myself. When I came to the realization that I had to first forgive myself in order to fully move on with my life, a little bright light went on in my head, (thanks to a wonderful conversation with my friend Sam Chalfant) allowing me to understand and accept, that living in the past does not help the present, nor the future: living in the past puts life on hold.

Just like our caregiving journeys are different, so will our journeys be different when caregiving ends.  Sharing our stories after caregiving ends is just as important as it was while in the midst of caregiving.  Because in the end, somewhere along the line, forgiveness, in some form or another, will be part of the healing formula for each one of us to experience, so that we can fully embrace our life once again after caregiving ends.  Sharing is caring… before, during and after our caregiving experience, so  that our hills are light, and with a gentle breeze always at our backs.

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

The road to Spokane is my virtual story leading up to graduation from Gonzaga University

2 Comments

Filed under After Caregiving, Caregiving, Grief

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!

6 Comments

Filed under After Caregiving, Caregiving, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors