Category: Support System

A Gift for the Overwhelmed Caregiver that Keeps Giving

Caregiver Quotes
What do you give a caregiver to show them you care and are thinking about them?  What they really want is more time  and available hands to call when they are needed . But in our society where the demand of our time far surpasses the supply, it’s a struggle to be that helper we want to be to those caregivers we love.  Often times, I have heard the phrase, ‘Please let me know how I can help.’  I never even knew how to reply to that statement.  It may be well meaning but it’s not actionable.  Being a caregiver is tough stuff.  Often times caregiving is emotional draining and physically straining.  There are usually no warning signs when a caregiving crisis is approaching.  It’s reactive, urgent, and stressful.  We don’t know when or if things will improve and often times we know that our situation will probably get worse before it gets better . When a loved one has a disease or a chronic illness, the whole family is impacted in some way.  As caregivers, we all have those days, weeks, or even months when we feel like we are on a treadmill and no matter how hard we try to stay on top of it, the plates and pieces we are juggling fall and it feels like no matter how much we give it’s never enough.

I think a gift that continues to remind an overwhelmed caregiver that they are enough is a great gift.

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A New Place for Mom

‘We’re out of tricks.’  This is the phrase I used when talking to my two out-of-town sisters about the need to find a better living situation for mom…again.  Mom has been in two different assisted living communities in the past year and half, since my dad has passed.  Neither place has been a fit and frankly I don’t think any of them will.

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My BIG takeaway from my first family caregiver support meeting

My big takeaway from 1st support mtg

I’m not my mom and my mom isn’t me.

Profound, right?  I thought so.  This simple statement slapped me upside the head when I heard this from Dawn, the owner and creator of a nonprofit organization called ALOHA (A Life Of Healthy Aging).  Dawn’s organization visits my mom’s new assisted living community monthly to offer support to resident’s families.

Dawn followed this statement with a question: ‘who is your mom?’ and challenged me to find out.  I definitely know who I want her to be – I want her to be me!  But, even though she has been my mom for 44 years, I still have some detective work to do in order to answer this question. (more…)

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How to minimize holiday stress and maximize holiday blessings

For many of us, ‘the holidays’ can simply mean we have even more to do than normal and the last thing any family caregiver needs is one more item on their to do list.  As the holidays grow near, I find myself reminiscing about my childhood holidays, reflecting on those simpler days when we mainly just got to show up and enjoy the fun.  I am very grateful for the wonderful family holiday memories I have.  As an adult, I realize that it was primarily my mom that worked so hard to make holidays special for us.  She trimmed every corner of the house, planned and prepared every meal, and shopped and wrapped for every gift (including Santa gifts and stocking stuffers!).  We would have ‘stacks’ of presents beautifully tied with ribbons and all six of us would have the same amount of gifts to open.  I have just two kids and it’s difficult to ensure that everything is fair and equal.  I’m sure my mom and dad collaborated on the budget but I’m also fairly certain that my mom went over budget every year.  Let’s just say I also have some memories of my dad paying the bills in January.

 

The traditional Christmas eve family pose circa 1976. I'm in the new blue Footie PJ's and so excited about my new doll from grandma.
The traditional Christmas eve family pose circa 1976. I’m in the new blue Footie PJ’s and so excited about my new doll from grandma.

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An early holiday gift filled with Irish blessings

irishblessingskilkenny

In a recent post, I shared that instead of showering our kids with holiday gifts, the past few years we have been investing in travel and enjoying the dividends in the form of lasting memories.  Read more about this family philosophy here if you missed the Traveling for Memories post as it will give you some background on why we do this and how we go about selecting a location.

I loved hearing one of the kids ask us to pull over so they could snap a picture.

Over the kid’s fall break (which is earlier than most places since we start school the first week of August) we went to Ireland. We purchased the 6 night package last winter from Travel Zoo.  The package included round trip flights from Atlanta to Dublin, one night in a hotel, 5 nights of bed & breakfast vouchers, car rental, and a mobile Wi-Fi device (this little buddy is a MUST have on your trip as it works in cars, pubs, B&B, etc.!).  My 15 year old daughter, Natalie, planned the general route we took and listed out the towns and attractions she thought looked interesting.  In her style, the itinerary was an over achievement but we knew that going into the trip.  We just liked having the list of options at our fingertips.  I used a web tool called Trello that also has an app and organized a list for each day with a card on the list for the details about each option, who recommended it, and any special notes.  I included a few tips that I got from Instagram and Pinterest searches, as well.  Once we knew the general route, I selected the bed & breakfasts based on TripAdvisor reviews about a month beforehand. (more…)

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Traveling for family memories

family travel memoriesEarly in our marriage, may be even before we were married, Jason and I had agreed that we would always use some of our time off to have our own vacation.  Coming from a big family, there are always events and family reunions to attend but it was important to us that we set aside focused family time together each year.  Before our children were part of our lives, we took some special trips to New York City, California and Grand Cayman.  Not to mention our honeymoon in Bermuda.

Traveling with young children

Once we had our children our vacations primarily centered on trips to visit family.  Every summer, we have been to our family cabin in Hubbard Lake, Michigan and there have been several visits to Florida, Pennsylvania, Phoenix, and Washington D.C. areas to see my parents and our siblings.  One exception to the normal trips is when we jumped on an opportunity when Natalie was 10 months old to go see my sister Susie and her family in Botley, England.  Her husband Dave was there for a 2 year assignment and it was Susie’s 40th birthday and we were missing their 4 kids since they had moved away.  They had been in England long enough to show us all the local sites they loved.  Susie kept Natalie one day when we visited so Jason and I could take the train into London for a day on our own.

 

Bali Indonesia family trip
Mt Batur Temple

Our first big international trip as a family was BIG!  In June 2007, the four of us went to Bali, Indonesia.  (more…)

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Are you a “sequencing” mom?

Growing up, I never pictured myself as a working mom.  I knew I would work before having kids but figured I’d be a stay home mom, just like my mom was for us.  I know my husband may feel somewhat responsible for me not being a stay home mom but frankly he’s not the reason I am still working.

What is a sequencing mom?

A “sequencing” mom typically earns a college degree, starts a career, and decides to take a planned break
from the workforce in order to raise young children and then returns to their careers years later.
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How to truly celebrate a life

 

Celebrate a life ©2013_SusieMorrell_Bee
Click to see more paintings by my talented sister, Susie Morrell

August 4th was the one year anniversary of my dad’s death.  Rather than focusing on his last day, I am choosing to focus this post on the Saturday just prior to his passing, where we threw a party in the hospice room to celebrate his life.  When I reflect on this memory, I feel so grateful that we had this opportunity to tell dad how much he meant to us, share memories, and prepare as a family to say good-bye.  I know that many families have not had this opportunity.

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Driving mom from Michigan to Georgia…it’s what you do.

mom's trip to michiganMy family has two lake homes in Hubbard Lake, Michigan.  For health reasons, my mom hasn’t been able to visit Michigan in a few years.  My siblings and I were determined to get her there this year.  We have dangled this trip in front of her as an incentive for her to take better care of her health and we wanted her to be around the extended family as many have not seen her since my dad’s memorial last fall.  Thankfully, she was able to go.  It took much preparation, and patience but I know in the end we are all glad we went. (more…)

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