Better Self-Care for Caregivers

By: Roz Jones

As a caregiver It can be difficult to make time for self-care in our busy schedules. We run from one commitment to another, filling every gap in our life with work, study, family and social events. The chaos of a caregiver modern life makes it even more important that we take the time to care for our individual wellbeing, both physically and mentally. If you are struggling with your own self-care, consider these five tips to improve your habits.

1. Add self-care to your normal routine

When planning your weekly schedule, make sure that you have time for self-care. Cementing its place in your routine means that you will be more likely to commit to self-care as you will have allocated time specifically reserved for it. The more often you practice self-care, the more it will become a habit and part of your regular life. 

2. Do what suits you

Self-care looks for different for everyone. Some people enjoy getting outdoors, others like catching up with friends and some people prefer sitting at home losing themselves in a good book or movie. Identify what makes you feel better and commit to that. Don’t feel pressured by what others consider self-care; long walks aren’t for everyone.

3. Practice gratitude

Engaging in regular gratitude practice is a valuable habit and a worthwhile way to spend your allocated self-care time. Take some time each day or week to write down three things that you are grateful for. Try to think of unique things that have happened for that week, rather than repeating the same common things each time. It may be difficult at first, but the more you practice gratitude the easier it will become. Regular participation in gratitude exercises trains your brain to be more thankful and positive about the things you have in your life, rather than focusing on the things you don’t have or things that aren’t going so well. 

4. Be brave and try something new

Trying something new is a great way to break the monotony of everyday life. Your mental health will benefit and you will learn new skills, both through the actual activity but also in regard to managing your nerves and being open to new opportunities. It’s a great way to take care of your mental, and depending on the activity, physical health.

5. Detox from social media

Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with people, but in can also lead to resentment through comparison. If you are feeling overwhelmed or finding yourself in a rut, take a break of social media to become more present and rejuvenate in the real world.

Aging Parents and Role Reversal

By Roz Jones

This is the day you thought would never happen.  Your roles in life are reversing.  You’re trying to make decisions for yourself and your Aging Parent.  What will be best for them without altering your life too drastically.  How do you keep up the pace and ultimately please everyone around you?  You are not alone in life, you have a family, significant other, a career to think about.  You want to balance everything to keep everyone happy and life as normal as possible.  Think again!  Those once a week visits or daily phone calls aren’t enough anymore.  Your parent needs care, the real kind.  

The care includes making sure they eat, that they take their meds, that their money isn’t being floundered away on TV shopping.  You have siblings that think Assisted Living or Nursing Facilities are awful and they don’t want to put Mom or Dad in one even though they also don’t want to help out.  How do you cope?  How do you deal with this situation without alienating every member of your family?

First understand, it’s not about you.  What I mean by that statement is that it is not about guilt and what some think is the “Right thing to do”.  It’s not about hanging on to someone that they used to be.  They are an elderly person in need of constant care and attention.  If you need a dose of growing up, this situation will make it happen whether you’re ready or not!

Start with their doctor.  Have an appointment to discuss the faltering health of your beloved parent.   You can also check into the hospital that their health care is associated.  Every hospital has an elder care group of some type.  The medical coverage will also have affiliations with elder sourcing.  Between the doctor and the medical coverage group, you may be able to determine the types of help and living style your parents current status requires.  Keep asking until you have the best situation for all concerned.  

It may be as simple as an Aide visiting once or twice a day to help with showering, dressing, meals and meds.  Their health may need more than that and the visiting nurse or doctor’s office is the place to apply the concern.  The best word to learn to help an elder parent is the same as if your infant child were being cared for and that is SAFETY. If safety is not at the level necessary, keep pushing until you get the help you need.  Keep on insisting the area of SAFETY.

It may take you time to uncover everything available to your parent to help with this care process but trust me, it will be worth it in the many years’ elder care can stretch out to be.  It is best to discuss with them all their health and medical, financial and personal situations before that day arrives. 

When they are older the best thing you can give them is you.  Spend quality time instead of stress time.  Have them over for a day and dinner instead of needing to pawn them off on someone else.  The resentment builds if you do this alone and there are many really good care facilities to take that burden off your shoulders.

Safety and honesty is what makes those later years a good memory!

Using Hospice Services for Dying at Home

Preparing for end of life means coming to terms with the fact that death is part of living. How you die may not be something you decide but sometimes where you die is in your control. Hospice services can help. 

Hospice Care is a type of health care that serves to relieve pain without treating the cause for the pain. The focus of a hospice team is to provide medical, emotional, and spiritual support to families with a terminal patient – generally in their own home. 

Some of the benefits of hospice care are:

  • Ability to die at home
  • Pain management 
  • Help with ancillary medical needs 
  • Provide education
  • Offer emotional support 

Being able to be at home during the final days of life can be a helpful and comfortable thing for entire families. Being in familiar surroundings with loved ones, pets, and personal belongings can make transitioning easier than being isolated in a sterile and noisy environment like a hospital. Most everyone prefers the idea of being home rather than away when they die.

If you or a loved one has a terminal diagnosis, you are likely a candidate for palliative care and eventually hospice. Your medical provider can help you connect with a hospice team where you will create a plan and set goals for your experience. This may include things like:

  • Comfort needs
  • Direct care needs
  • Choices during transition
  • Direct support for emotional and spiritual needs 

Hospice isn’t just about direct care when you are actively dying. It begins with a terminal diagnosis. Palliative care – while not considered hospice care – is a form of treating pain and making plans before hospice takes over providing final care. You do not have to be bed ridden to get support. Your medical team will include palliative care as part of your treatment plan.  

As things progress your hospice nurse will provide assistance to you and your family to help make things less scary and as comfortable as possible. Knowing someone is there who can help and that you can be at home at such an important time makes such big difference in your peace of mind and comfort during this process. Even after you pass, your hospice support team will help your family contact your mortuary and help ready your remains for your pre-planned funeral process.  

Tips for Sharing Difficult Plans with Your Kids

Planning for retirement includes planning for your end-of-life needs. Making important decisions about your medical care, where you intend to live, and how you want your estate managed if you become incapacitated or unable to manage your own needs is part of being a mature adult. 

Kids are not adults and should not be a part of planning unless…

  • There is a terminally ill parent 
  • An abrupt accident has taken place 

Both scenarios are highly unusual but they do happen and there is no avoiding the realities facing the family. What is appropriate and important to share with children under these circumstances? 

Here are some tips for sharing difficult plans with your kids.

Tip #1. Be age-appropriately honest- If there is a terminal situation or a fatal accident, there’s no denying what is happening; however, the language you use and the extent you share the details should match the maturity and development of your child. Be honest but censor your truth through a filter that is age-appropriate. 

Tip #2. Get help- Whether it’s a counselor, clergy member, trusted friend, or family member, get some outside help. Having more than one person on your team to share supporting your children can make a big difference. Every person who is involved will have a unique impact on your children and make it easier to digest and manage difficult plans. 

Tip #3. Ask questions- Checking in with your children and asking them directly how they are doing can help them feel better about opening up and sharing their feelings. Making it all right to talk about how they feel can help them cope better and make sure they don’t have any confusion or deep-seated issues they may need help with. 

Tip #4. Keep things simple- People form attachments to experiences so keep things simple. If you have tough news to share, keep the environment neutral and safe. Don’t go out to dinner to share tough news or try to make things easier over an ice cream cone. This can ruin ice cream for your children for the rest of their lives. Keep things simple and direct in a neutral space so the main focus is the issue at hand.  

Everyone wants to protect children from pain. That’s always the preferred choice but sometimes it can’t be avoided. You can share tough plans with your children if you use safe and sane guidelines that are age appropriate and surrounded by support.

Unique Burial Options You May Not Know Exist

When it comes to funeral and burial planning, most people think of traditional options like being buried in a cemetery or cremated. These are very common options and perfect if they are in alignment with your idea of how you want your remains handled. Did you know there are some unique burial options out there too? 

Now, more than ever, there are some pretty amazing alternatives to traditional burial or cremation. As the population grows and people expand their understanding of issues like the carbon footprint or being “green,” more options are coming up for managing burial than ever. Here’s just a few: 

Donating your body to science: Donating your body to science isn’t new but the practice is on the rise. Donating your body to science means there are no costs for you or your family. It generally includes cremation once the usages for medical science are complete. In some cases, donated bodies have been used for more permanent situations such as the Body World donor program where bodies are on display in museums and traveling exhibits. 

Donating your body to a body farm: Like donating your body to science, donating your body to a forensic anthropology center helps forensic scientists learn more about bodies in ways that help solve crimes. This can be very useful helping teach students in the criminal justice fields of science. 

Donating your body for cadaver training: One of the methods used to locate and recover bodies after a natural disaster or act of terrorism is cadaver dogs. These are highly trained dogs that can smell and locate human remains. You can donate your body to teach and train dogs and their handlers to help others in the event of a disaster. 

Human composting: A company in the Pacific Northwest is trying to pass legislation that will allow for human composting. This is the act of combining remains with straw, water, and oxygen to rapidly decompose a body which can be used for compost or other natural uses. This cuts down on costs associated with traditional cremation or burial and saves space, wood, and energy. 

There are many alternatives to traditional burial out there. Likely there is a method that combines with an interest you have whether it is green burial, helping with the sciences, or being of service to your local community training programs. Find an alternative that represents your passions and consider it as an option.