Assessing Your Situation

How-To: Honestly Assessing Your Caregiving Role

November is National Caregivers Month, and becoming a caregiver for an older relative can be a role that evolves over time or is one that is thrust upon you due to a health crisis. However it comes about, all caregivers will find themselves having to reassess the situation from time to time as their loved one's needs change. When busy, fatigued, frustrated or overwhelmed by a sudden health crisis, it becomes easy to feel you must make decisions too quickly.

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What’s the Best Option- Assisted Living or In-Home Care?

Many adult children reach a point where they have to decide how to provide more services for aging parents, and often that involves a comparison of receiving in-home care or moving to an assisted living community. When it comes time for you to make that decision, it’s important to have the facts.

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Coping With Loss

As we might expect, the older we get, the more losses we suffer in our life. The most substantial losses might be that of a spouse, close friends, or peers. But experiencing loss extends beyond the loss of a physical being. For many people, their professional work was a big part of their identity. When they retire, though that sounds like utopia to some, it can result in the loss of a big part of their self-esteem and sense of purpose. It can be incredibly difficult to process. Each new “loss” can lead us further down the path of low self-esteem or sadness.

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A Story of Selflessness

This is a portion of a letter I wrote to a client who was caring for his aunt. Though he lives 40 minutes away, he’d been taking her to unplanned emergency room visits for months. He knew his aunt was no longer in a safe environment, but family members wanted her to stay at home. He was doing everything he could, plus a full time job, and being present for his family.

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Right Service, Right Place, Right Time: Part II

When the time comes to seek help with caregiving responsibilities, caregivers may be overwhelmed by the vast array of options available. Where do you start? It is helpful to divide services into in-home/community-based and residential/housing options. Then, we can look at the alternatives as a continuum from minimal assistance to total assistance and from intermittent to continuous help.

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Right Service, Right Place, Right Time; Part I

At some point, every caregiver comes to a crossroad. They begin to wonder whether they can continue to provide all of the assistance needed, or should they seek some support from professional agencies. This is a difficult decision for a variety of reasons, but the primary reason is what I might call the “independence conundrum.”

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Postponing What Is Inevitable: Making a Decision About Aging Parents

There are some decisions in life where we're able to take the easy way out. It may not be the best answer but it will suffice for now, it won't hurt anyone, and when we have a full plate already it's just easier. Then there are times when that's not possible. We wish the right answer was the easy one, but it's not. This is often the case when dealing with an aging parent.

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This Year, Resolve to Take Guilt and Worry Out of Care-Giving

Many years ago, I read a book entitled: Your Erroneous Zones, by Wayne Dyer, PhD. As you may recall, Dr. Dyer was a popular philosopher and self-help advisor during the late 70s and 80s. The primary message of the book was that feelings or emotions are not something that just happen to us, they are reactions that we choose to have. Because we have control over our thoughts, and our thoughts influence our feelings, we can regulate our emotions as well.

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Holidays, a Time for Families to Come Together

It’s the holiday season, and families are coming together to celebrate! Don’t you just love those family gatherings? A time to honor the traditions that have been carried on through generations, seeing loved ones you’ve missed for many months, and realizing that the kids have gotten big and the adults aren’t getting any younger.

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November is National Caregivers Month

Thirty nine percent of working adults are family caregivers. That simple statement has many dynamics behind it, such as families and individual caregivers trying to balance work, family and caring for a loved, and finding that twenty four hours in a day aren’t nearly enough.

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I Thought I Was Ready, I Was Wrong

In the summer of 2013, my parents moved to Layton Terrace, our senior community in Greenfield. My Mom was supported by our assisted living program and my Dad quickly found his place in Spring House, our specialty program for people with dementia. My Mother, 90 years old, passed away at Christmastime in 2013. My 93 year old Dad joined her last fall.

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Hidden Value of Planning

Small changes in an aging parent can prompt adult children to begin to think about their family situations in earnest. It might be a nagging concern that Mom or Dad had a tough time in their house this winter. Or, it can be a change in their own personal lives, such as a move further away that gets them thinking.

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Caring for an Aging Parent, a Family Affair

In caring for your parent, the division of work, commitment of time, investment in their wellbeing and sometimes the investment of your own dollars is not an equal opportunity split. There are many things in life that aren't fair, and this can certainly be one of them.

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Signs of Caregiver Stress

Being the primary caregiver of an aging parent can feel as if you are on a roller coaster ride. Each week or even each day can bring on a change in health or new challenge. Many family caregivers are juggling work and the needs of their own families, too. Add in the extra demands of a special occasion, if you’re not careful, you may jeopardize your own health.

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Taking a Break When a Caregiver

Taking care of an older family member can be one of the most rewarding experiences. It can also be physically and emotionally taxing especially if you are the sole person responsible for providing care. To be an effective caregiver, it’s crucial for any caregiver to be able to take a break so as to return refreshed and reenergized. Whether it’s just a few hours a week to run errands or the ability to take a much-needed vacation, respite care offers caregivers the chance to keep life in balance.

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A Caregiver's Dilemma

I presented to a group of caregivers recently and one participant approached me afterward and said:“I'm caring for someone and I'm doing the best I can. But as I sit and listen to others talk about their caregiving roles, I hear them say that they love their parent or spouse but it's difficult sometimes. I don't love the person I'm caring for, and I feel like an absolutely terrible person for thinking this let alone saying it. It's not keeping me from doing my best, but I have a long history with this person. There have been hard feelings and uncaring things said between us that are hard to forget. How do I reconcile that?”

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How to Be an Effective Caregiver

Achieving and maintaining a balance of caregiving, work and family is a constant process and one that varies in intensity and stress. When life is running relatively smoothly, most of us can take things in stride. It is those times when things shift suddenly - a health crisis of some kind, changes in other family dynamics or an unexpected demand at work - when a caregiver can get overwhelmed. To expect it to be a perfect balance at all times is unrealistic.

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Sharing the Aging Experience of a Parent

I have a friend who recently experienced the loss of her mother. But that doesn’t begin to tell the story. While sharing condolences with my friend over her loss, she expressed some aha moments that only became clear in hindsight. I found them to be powerful observations that could serve as important learning opportunities for all of us, so I asked for permission to share them.

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8 Questions to Ask Your Aging Loved One

Becoming a caregiver for an older relative can be a role that evolves over time or is one that is thrust upon you due to a health crisis. However it comes about, all caregivers will find themselves having to reassess the situation from time to time as their loved one’s needs change.

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How to Balance Caregiving for Your Aging Parent with Work and Family

Caregiving for an older adult could be the most difficult and challenging job you may ever have. Though it is challenging, most caregivers take comfort knowing that they are helping a loved one maintain a good quality of life while adjusting to changing health.

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