As family caregivers, we have to be ready for the unexpected. Organization will help you be ready because a caregiving crisis is always lurking. Unlike the children many of us care or cared for that eventually become more independent as they age, our aging parents we may be caring for are moving in the opposite direction, doing less physically and potentially remembering less mentally, eventually becoming completely dependent on us.
A caregiving crisis may be a trip to the emergency room but it could also be that urgent frustrating call from your loved one like they can’t make a donation online to the republican committee, they have no more diet ginger ale, they can’t get into their Facebook account, they completely ran out of disposable underwear or the Wifi isn’t working ( can you tell these have all been crisis of the day ’emergencies’ for me?!). After all we are often our caree’s primary shopper, tech support, and contact with the outside world. (more…)
I believe many family caregivers think of self-care as a weekend retreat, a night out with the girls or a relaxing day at the spa. Those activities do sound and are amazing! However, self-care can be a collection of tiny little daily habits that allow you to nurture and energize yourself.
In this post, I want to focus in on those daily self-care habits. The little things that you do or could do to take better care of you.
Does anything come to mind?
If you got a decent night’s sleep last night, that’s a good start. If you ate an energizing healthy breakfast this morning, you are starting to seize your day.
Wouldn’t be great to have some little self-care breadcrumbs sprinkled throughout your day for you to savor?
If you are a working caregiver, your company may offer an EAP – an Employee Assistance Program. Many employers offer this benefit because they realize that you have many demands and stresses put on you outside of your work life that impact your job and it’s in everyone’s best interest if they help you cope.
However, like me, you may have overlooked your EAP.
I went to a lunch-n-learn at my company that outlined all the benefits an EAP has and I was blown away. I kept repeating in my head as the speaker was talking ‘I wish I knew about all of this a couple years ago!’
I left the session and went immediately to a couple family caregivers I know at work to share what I learned so that they could take advantage of some of these resources or at least be made aware of their existence.
EAP is one of those widespread benefits that is ‘out there’ and I think people think about the obvious use – counseling for them self – the employee. But even when I was picking up more and more caregiving responsibilities and completely overwhelmed I didn’t consider that EAP was for me.
Expert Interview – Karen Habra Smyth
Karen not only wants to aspire and achieve health and happiness goals for herself and her family – she wants you to adopt a deliberate vision for your life, too. Karen and her business partner Jodi offer products and resources to help everyone, including family caregivers, create the vision for their life that they deserve.
Surprising many that knew her, Karen Habra Smyth resigned from her corporate job about 10 years ago. She was trying to start her family with her husband Michael, she wasn’t feeling fulfilled by her career at that time and she wanted to grab the reigns to influence the outcome she desired.
I didn’t coin the phrase ‘courageous conversation’, I first heard this term from my sister who used it in the context of meetings she has with her employees where she has to often coach them on how they can improve.
When she shared that term with me, I immediately thought of those uncomfortable but necessary conversations I have had to have with my parents.
After my dad retired, my parents made Florida their primary residence and Michigan their summer residence. They lived independently for many years and outsourced the tasks and jobs that they really no longer wanted to do and could afford someone else to do such as housekeeping and yard maintenance.
Gradually over the years, independent living became a struggle and the amount of everyday living tasks that were being outsourced expanded. Individuals were hired to grocery shop, prepare meals and snacks, and run errands. Then, as my mom became less mobile, personal assistance was needed organizing medications, massaging and wrapping her legs, showering, driving and accompanying her to various doctor appointments.
While they lived on the ocean in their dream home, they were mostly confined to the condo. Independent living for them was like wading in the ocean. When their health was status quo and their help was coming consistently, life was doable. But, as soon as a big unexpected wave crashed in, it would topple them over and have a ripple effect on our entire family. (more…)
Each month, I have a one-on-one interview with a Caregiver in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community. I call each of these recorded conversations a ‘Caregiver Spotlight’. I started these because each caregiver journey is unique and I know every time I talk to another caregiver I learn something new and I leave that conversation knowing I’m not alone and feel encouraged by others.
I’m excited to introduce you to my wonderful sister Susie!
Susie lives in Pennsylvania and is the amazing primary caregiver to our 78 year old mother and 53 year old brother with Asperger’s.
On top of this, she manages a household of four very active children ranging in age from 17-22 and she is a marvelous oil painter! For my entire family, the past few years have been crazy! Not only did we lose our father and move mom four times but Susie also went through a divorce.
“Mom, what’s for dinner?” may be the most annoying question of the day.
Dinner is something my fantasy self is really good at. In my head I cook yummy hot, healthy, homemade meals that are prepared with love and see my family enjoying every morsel around our family dinner table while recapping the events of the day.
Not so much a reality with a tired family coming home from different stresses of the day. Some are famished and in need to rush off to homework or the next thing.
My true self does the best she can with dinner with the energy and time allotted..and definitely solicits the help of her family in the process. My husband takes turns preparing meals and one kid sets the table and the other helps with cleanup.
Two weeks of healthy dinner options
Finding the perfect combination of recipes that 1) my entire family will eat, 2) are easy to prepare, and 3) help me reach my health goals is a struggle.
So when you find a meal that meets all three of these criteria, you repeat it.
Here are two weeks of meals that are part of our usual dinner fare. (more…)
Chances are we all take better physical care of our smartphones than we do ourselves.
I’m not hating on the smartphone though as it’s a powerful little tool that helps caregivers in many ways.
We all have our phones with us wherever we go and there are some powerful tools we can take advantage of to make our caregiving days a little easier.
I’ve been sitting on this advice for a few months and it’s time to release some of it into the universe.
My dad passed away 2 years ago this week. A death anniversary is melancholy yet I have this urge to do something in memory of this special person to continue to honor his life.
A few months ago, my cousin Meghan emailed me the collection of dad’s unpublished chapters intended to go into his next book. It seemed too special a gift to unwrap at the time, like a fine bottle of wine that deserves a special occasion. He had asked Meghan to review it because she has editing experience and he valued her opinion. Meghan was in the process of editing dad’s chapters when he passed away in 2014. (more…)
Are you as curious about essential oils? Lately I’ve been hearing more and more about them and I just had to know what these are all about.
As part of my holistic health discovery, I enjoy learning about natural ways to overcome health obstacles and optimize health.
My expert interview conversation with Sue Ellen Jones certainly peaked my curiosity about essential oils even more.
Sue Ellen Jones is a former teacher turned Essential Oils Wellness Advocate with doTerra (which means ‘gift of the earth’). Sue Ellen lives with her husband in Alpena, Michigan. She’s raised five children and now enjoys 13 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. (more…)