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Aging - The Shared Journey

Care to chat about the journey of aging? Yep, I want to talk about getting older. I know, another socially taboo subject, right? Well, getting older may not be your favorite subject, but in order to age well, we need to meet this challenge head on and thereby recognize some of the opportunities afforded by aging as well. And over the course of our discussion, we’ll highlight the fact that the journey of aging is not a solo flight. We share our journey of aging with others—and that is a very...


Take 5 - Take Care of YOU

It’s time to TAKE 5! Today, I want to chat about an essential aspect of life for caregivers—self care. And please note, self care by definition includes respite care - taking a break from time to time.


Listen and Learn

Over the course of my 60+ years on this earth, I have been blessed to know and to love some amazing elders—individuals who are a bit older and certainly much wiser than I. Today, let’s discuss how our lives can be enriched if we choose to listen and learn from the elders in our world.


The Need to be Known

Last year I was reminded once again of the importance of being known in this world. My brother died. Upon his death, I became the last one standing of my biological family. My brother was the last person who had known me my entire life. We had a common origin. We shared a common history. We knew each other from the inside out. Today, I miss “remembering when” with my brother! I long for him to fill in the blanks when I fail to remember a name or an event in our family. More than anything, I...


Confronting the Reality of Mortality

Having worked in the field of hospice and palliative care for many years, I realize most people are not comfortable talking about death and dying. In fact, as a community educator, I became quite creative when advertising programs and events so as not to scare people away! We live in an age denying, death averse society. However, our reluctance to confront the reality of our mortality doesn’t serve us well. Instead, if we are able to accept the fact that human beings are finite creatures—we...


Grief 101

As human beings, we experience a variety of losses over the course of a lifetime. When we lose something or someone, we grieve. However, we are not grief savvy. We don’t understand the twists and turns of grief. Our ignorance about the journey does not serve us well. Ill-informed, we have unrealistic expectations. We fail to access needed resources. We fear the unknown. And, we resist re-engaging with life in order to avoid future losses. Although I am well versed in the academic discourse...


What to Do?

Today, let’s chat about those moments when we desperately want to DO something for a family member or a friend…..but we feel powerless to do anything of significance. In those moments we wonder, “What can I do?”


What Have you Got to Lose?

Loss. Probably not your favorite topic of discussion. However, loss is an inherent part of the lived experience. And loss is seemingly magnified and multiplied when confronted by a chronic, progressive, and/or terminal illness. It is important to recognize what we have to lose. By so doing, we can intentionally grieve, mourn, and integrate loss into our lives.


Game Changers - Tipping Points

There are moments within the caregiving experience after which everything changes. A game changer. A tipping point. This is often an unwelcome, unanticipated wake-up call that requires a response from caregivers and care receivers—a change in plans or perhaps an increased level of care. While tipping points come in a variety of guises, all tipping points precipitate a caregiving crisis that necessitates a change in the plan of care.


Control or Lack Thereof!

One of the more challenging aspects of aging, illness, and caregiving is lack/loss of control. Granted, we like to believe we are in control. We love the illusion of control. But the reality is this—there are some things beyond our control. So, focus your time, attention, and energy on aspects of the journey you can affect. You and yours will be much better served in the long run.


Everything is Temporary

As we all know, the journey of caregiving is comprised of twists and turns, ups and downs, joys and sorrows. Dealing with the changing landscape is challenging indeed. Perhaps by realizing that everything is temporary, we would be more tolerant of the bad times and more appreciative of the good times. A perspective certainly worthy of consideration.


Stress Is Part of the Journey

Let’s be honest. The journey of caregiving can be stressful for everyone involved. Caring for family members or friends can be physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually, and psychosocially. And similarly, being cared for by family members and friends can be stressful. Stress is an inherent part of the journey of caregiving. So, we are wise to understand the concept of stress, potential sources of stress, and the consequences of unmitigated stress. By so doing, perhaps we’ll be...


Got Guilt?

Got Guilt? If you are like most caregivers, you probably feel a wee bit guilty taking a little time for yourself. Right? Today, I would like to address the issue of guilt in the context of caregiving. Caregiving is hard enough without adding the extra burden of guilt. Perhaps by recognizing the common sources of guilt, we can begin to intentionally lighten the load.


Attitude is Everything

Our ability to successfully navigate the rough waters posed by life depends on our attitude. Viktor Frankl taught an entire generation that we cannot control everything that happens in life. However, we always have the freedom to choose an attitude in response to life. And that choice ultimately determines our experience of life. Do you choose to be a victim of life and succumb to the perceived inequities? Or, will you courageously accept the reality of your situation and seek life-giving...


The Blessings of Boundaries

Boundaries are necessary behavioral constructs if we are to have healthy relationships with other people. We need to be aware of where we end and the other person begins. Boundaries serve to protect both persons, honoring and respecting each individual. Well-conceived and well-managed boundaries are ultimately a blessing to all involved in the journey of caregiving.


The Last One Standing

My godmother, Aunt Jane, was one of my greatest mentors. She was full of life! I always thought of her as my personal Auntie Mame. She lived life large to say the very least. She married a man, my Uncle Doc, who was 12 years her senior. She always knew that she would probably outlive him. However, she never imagined she would outlive all of her friends as well. By witnessing the journey of my beloved Aunt Jane, I learned how hard it is to be the last one standing.


The Wisdom of Geese

For most people rooted in Western culture, it is difficult to ask for and receive help from other people. However, the reality is that we will all need help due to the challenges posed by aging and/or illness. So, how are we to overcome our resistance to assistance? Well, our friend the goose has much to teach us about giving and receiving care. Look to the skies. As geese fly in formation, they embody the essential ingredients of collaborative care: shared leadership, interdependence, self...


Compassion Fatigue

As professional or personal caregivers, we witness the suffering of others – physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering. To witness the pain and suffering of others is to be forever changed. Compassionate people bear the suffering of others and often times compromise their own health and well being when they assume too much of the burden. We must always be aware of where we end and the other person begins – the importance of boundaries. We can companion others in life, but we cannot assume...


Plan for LIFE - Advance Directives

Advance Directives—a topic that confuses or frightens most people. This is NOT something you want to consider. Medical care options and end-of-life decisions are emotionally charged and daunting, to say the least. However, if we reframe the conversation, maybe you will be more inclined to embrace the planning process. Instead of thinking about various death scenarios, consider the infinite options for LIFE! Planning for LIFE is a much more appealing and productive approach. How do you wish...


Hospice and Palliative Care

Today, I want to chat about a philosophy and model of health care that offers tremendous hope to patients and families confronted by the daunting challenges of chronic and/or terminal illness—palliative care—an unfamiliar term for most folks. But you’ve probably heard of hospice care, right? Well, hospice is a specific type of palliative care. Now I realize the word “hospice” may have you reaching for the mute button. The idea of hospice - end of life care—is frightening to most people. But...