Emotions Can trigger Stop Signs

stop sign

Especially as a Caregiver, we’re involved constantly in other peoples emotional states as well as our own. I’ve found that by taking charge of my own emotions, I give the upset person the space to release their frustration, but no ammunition to continue the fight. So often, what an angry/upset person seems to be saying is not conveying the real problem anyway. And they aren’t necessarily angry at the person they’re taking it out on. Sometimes they’re angry at themselves or life. It’s a waste of valuable energy to get into a struggle with an upset loved one. Saving yourself from the drain of your energy is a gift you can give to yourself.

I play tricks on myself mentally all the time. I have daily “alerts” on my phone that remind me to do things like “take a deep breath” and “Don’t make assumptions.” To keep out of arguments, when I realize trouble is brewing, I visualize a traffic STOP sign, mentally (it appears on the right side in the back of my brain). This STOP sign helps me pause long enough to decide to observe instead of react. It helps me to realize it’s them and not me. I feel sorry that they’re upset and know that the best thing I can do for them is let them get it out. If you listen calmly, you can deal with what they’ve said after they calm down, if it’s important. Otherwise, I find it best just to be understanding.

I know this might sound easier said than done. But, with practice, you’ll get good at it and use it more and more. Just see a STOP sign and take a breath. You’ll disarm the emotional person and gain their respect because they couldn’t rattle you.

Do something nice for yourself today!

Until soon, I wish you love and peace.

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Protecting the Dignity of the Elderly

elderly

Part of feeling good about ourselves as Caregivers is to know we’re doing a good job. We typically take charge of the health and often emotional needs of our loved ones. We need to see that their dignity is respected, also. It’s easier to do when you live in the same home. But, some people are managing the care of a loved one who lives in an assisted or skilled nursing home. They can’t be there twenty-four hours a day.

Two of the three people I took care of over sixteen years lived in assisted living or dementia care facilities. It’s important to be very familiar with the staff at facilities. The management can be lovely people, yet not aware that a staff person doesn’t understand the needs for your loved one. It’s the Caregivers job to know that there is a good relationship with each of the staff people and the resident around the clock. I’ve been told by management that they really appreciate an involved Caregiver who visits often and takes care of some of the little things that it’s hard for a facility to do. Personal touches that make life more pleasant. And, it’s good that the working staff is aware that they are appreciated for doing a good job. Praising them to management is good. On the flip side, staff is going to be more on their toes if they know the resident is watched over closely.

The way I could tell that the dignity of my father or my friend wasn’t being respected was by their mood and attitude. If they’re unhappy when you arrive, or speak to them on the phone, you need to ask questions. They may have a hard time telling you what’s up because the memory may not be good anymore. They might not remember why they’re sad. But, you can say something like: have you seen Mary (the staff person) this afternoon? Was she here cleaning things up? She seemed like a nice person when I met her. How’s she doing? Between each question, listen carefully. It’s amazing what can come up. You can’t be a drill sergeant, of course, and you can’t believe everything you hear. Depending on the level of dementia, what your loved one tells you may not be accurate. But, there’s a reason they’re sad and you need find out how to fix it. It’s complicated. I’ve seen too many people dismiss a mood by chalking it up to old age. As if the sad person doesn’t count anymore because they’re old. Using good judgement, you can ask the staff person who’s been around that day what they think is going on. They’re used to being accused of a lot of things so you have to take them into your confidence looking for a solution, without accusation. But, if your good instincts see a potential problem, you can make suggestions for fixing the situation and stay on top of it. I think management only needs to be told if it persists and you can’t solve it on your own. Finesse is the key word here.

My dad, who had Parkinson’s Disease, was always a sensitive man. When he cried for no apparent reason when I came in to pick him up one day, I could tell that his feelings had been hurt. He couldn’t speak well anymore so it was like a guessing game to figure out what was causing his sadness. After a few questions I learned that another resident at his table in the dining room was making remarks about him being anti-social. He spoke even less at the table because he was embarrassed by his difficulty. I asked if he would like to move to another table, he perked up and said there was a nice lady that he could sit with. I spoke to management and had him moved. Sadly, they would not have paid close enough attention to his mood to know there was a problem. That’s were we come in.

My father was a man with a certain dignity. He was nearly ninety and couldn’t defend himself anymore. I needed to protect him and his manhood. He had protected me all my young life. When he’d come for a visit and stay with my husband and I over the years, he’d check that every door and window in the house was properly locked before going to bed. He was still making sure I was safe. Now it was my turn to take care of him.

Until soon, I wish you love and fond memories.

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THE DARK-SIDE OF CAREGIVING

With much love intended, can we shine some light on the dark-side of Caregiving?  Can we work through the tough stuff, for our own sake, and try to understand rather than fight and feel pain?  For many, there is a dark-side of Caregiving and it keeps wonderful people, unnecessarily, in a sad place.  It often leads to illness for the Caregiver.  It’s the reason support groups (like: daughterhood.org) are popping up all over the country.  When we’re in the depths of it, all we can think of is WHY.  WHY me?  WHY does it have to be so hard?  WHY doesn’t someone else stand up and help?  WHY am I in this position and HOW did I get here?

By the dark-side I mean when we’re exhausted, when our nerves are shot, when we’re feeling the effects of self-neglect.  When we’re frustrated with government programs, doctors and insurance companies- it goes on and on- we ask ourselves, “How can I keep doing this?  Isn’t my own life worth something?”

The byline of this website is:  “Set the Foundation for Masterful Care for You and Your Loved Ones.”  I’m here to encourage and support Caregivers, not coddle them. My mission is to help people who take care of other people become stronger,  more confident, more knowledgeable and compassionate for themselves, and, consequently, for those in their charge. My hope is to help as many people as possible be grateful they’re alive, to recognize that they have a gift and to know that when they face life’s challenges head-on, they come through with more power and are stronger than ever.  Your life is as important as everyone else’s. And you’re meant to have challenges like everyone else.

After 21 years of more caregiving than I ever expected in my life, I can tell you that, for me, the answer to WHY has nothing to do with things like: being an especially good person, that you always do the right thing or that you’re the only one who stood up (though all these may be true).  It’s not because you love those in your charge and want them to have the best care (also, may be true). It’s not even because you’re a doomed person, life for you has always been hard and always will be, as I hear from some.

The raw truth, in my opinion, is that IT’S SOUL WORK.  I KNOW this. How do I know this?  I can feel it in my aging bones.  I can’t prove it to you in any tangible way.  I can only say that if you look deeply enough, long enough, within yourself, you may be able to know it, too, like I do.  A lifetime of experience, observation, study, research and self-reflexion has confirmed for me what I never would have considered as a young woman. In our myopic society, where most believe only in what they can see with their own eyes, or what science/reason tells them, there’s been little room in the last century for something bigger.  Something timeless and fantastic.

My gut tells me that we’re here on earth to express the beauty within that magnificent little baby we each were at our birth.  As our DNA is revealed more and more, I hope one day science will join with the unknown secrets of life, revealing the mysteries of the Universe, completely. Until then, I can only go on faith and see the love which is at the root of all.

As we express our individual gifts to the world, some of us are here to give of ourselves more than others.  It’s okay, the others have their gifts, equally important.  Caregiving is the opportunity to express love under sometimes very difficult circumstances. The more difficult, the more rewarding, if we can only see it that way.  I do notice we caregivers have a bit of trouble receiving sometimes.  We need to allow others to give, too, in their own way.

We’re all connected on this earth.  We’re connected to everything and everyone.  Every plant, every wave in the ocean, every cloud and drop of rain.  Every speck of dirt, every animal and every human being is connected.  The earth is alive and we’re part of the way it functions.  In health, we have a natural instinct to love, protect and care for other living things. 

We’re Caregivers, it’s what we’re doing now.  Today.  We’re working out our destinies, with love and compassion. How bad is that? It’s written in our DNA, you got the Caregiver gene.  Flaunt it!  Adopting an attitude of accepting who you are and seeing the beauty in it can only be good for the soul and your health.  Love yourself and your gift ❤️

 

Hugs,

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WITHOUT JUDGEMENT

When we go about our day, making a judgement at every turn, isn’t it easy to think we should have an opinion on everything?  We are constantly making decisions which require an opinion to lead to a judgement.  We judge how much time we need for our tasks of the day, how many layers of clothing we need for the temperature outside, how much distance is safe behind the car in front of us on the road, what we should plan for dinner tonight, where should we go on vacation this year, who we should vote for in the next election.  Decision, opinion, judgement.  It’s a way of life and quite necessary much of the time.  If you’re a caregiver, you’re often making important judgements on behalf of another who is in your care. 

We acquire confidence in judging as we take on responsibility in life.  We judge our own actions and those of others.  We need to make judgements in our daily work.  It seems we’re expected to have an opinion about everything that goes on in the world, too!  About everything we hear in the news 24/7. 

May I suggest that the judgement maker in us can use a break.  We can choose to not have an opinion, occasionally. It’s not always necessary to make judgment on every subject. In fact, no opinion can feel wonderfully liberating. How on earth am I supposed to have an opinion on what someone in the news, you or anyone else should do as you conduct your daily life?  I’m not you.  It’s not my business.  No more than I can judge if the European Union was a good idea, or not, for most Europeans.  The answer lies with the individual who is directly involved.  Its their business not mine.  And I have no idea how to fix global warming, excuse me, climate change. 

People expect others to have an opinion, they expect to be judged on their own opinions and love to argue them.  They feel like others will think they’re not informed if they don’t have an opinion and can’t make a judgement off the top of their head on every topic so they can post it on Facebook.  Or, chime in on Twitter.  You must have an opinion, society says.  Decide and judge or be judged as less!

When I was a young wife & mother and my whole focus and pleasure was on homemaking and family, I had little interest in what was going on in the broader world of national and international affairs.  The six o’clock news was enough for me.  This was before the Internet and reading magazines and newspapers was how people kept up.  I was behind the times and reminded of it when around people who were discussing important current topics.  I couldn’t participate because I had no opinion and no points to argue.  I just listened and felt boring.  I was judging myself.

Later, I went to college, became an avid reader of history, ran my own business, and became obsessed with the politics of the day.  I eventually had way too many opinions on way too many subjects. Caught in the vicious circle of unconscious living, my ability to judge was stunning.  And who was I impressing?  Only myself, I think.  More than likely, I prevented others from feeling free to express their opinions to me, if they differed.  A great way to close off communication. 

Things come full circle!  It has taken a BIT of work to get to a place where I can say, “I don’t have an opinion on that.”  It feels great, really.  Jaws sometimes drop.  Age is a great teacher and liberator.    

I wish you all the freedom to be who you really are and the grace to allow others to be who they are WITHOUT JUDGEMENT.  Love and understanding allows others to be comfortable expressing themselves honestly.  What a wonderful gift to give and receive.

Hugs,

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Peace Be With You

winter house mountain

Every Holiday Season brings lovely wishes of Peace and Joy for all.  How wonderful it would be if we could all have real peace in our lives.  Joy would surely automatically follow. 

If we could each live in a constant state of peace within, we would be so calm, healthy and brilliant.  We would have clarity of purpose, be creative and kindness would flow from each of us toward all others.  We would give our attention to the important things that are right in front of us everyday.  We would have no concern for what has passed that nothing can change. We would have no worry about a future that is not here yet and will be fine as long as we live for the best for all today, including our planet.

Peace, that’s the answer.  Finding inner peace and living it may be the biggest individual challenge in our world.  But, what a worthy goal.  Change ourselves, change the world.  Might be easier than trying to change everyone else! 

It is possible to find peace, some people live this way.  You see it occasionally, it radiates from smiling relaxed faces.  There’s a powerful magnetic energy in peaceful people.  I’m on the lookout for them now.  I want to hang out with them.  I want to learn from them.  I bet they’ve had some interesting challenges in their lives, maybe overcome tremendous adversity.  They know something about which others are not yet aware.  They seem to accept everything for what it is in that moment.  They don’t judge others and seem untroubled by the past.  They are somehow aware that the future will unfold in due time, in better form, if they just mind what’s in front of them today. 

The best gift I can think of to give to you, my readers, is to wish for peace in each of your lives.  Have a lovely Holiday Season.  I look forward to hearing from many of you in the New Year. 

I wish you blissful Peace.

Hugs,

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