Caregiver Tips to reduce stress

Releasing Caregiver Regrets

Caregiver Tips to reduce stressYou can lose the weight of regrets

Most caregivers have regrets. They wonder whether they’ve done too much or too little, too early or too late, too harshly or too passively. They regret the things they’ve said and done, and more importantly, the things they failed to say or do.

Here’s my most painful regret. I decided to skip my grandmother’s 90th birthday party. After all, I argued to myself, I had just seen her a few months earlier, and it would be hard to take the time off work. On the morning of her birthday, my grandmother died from a massive heart attack. At her funeral I felt the crushing weight of regret. What could I have been thinking? What was more important than celebrating the joyous milestone of one of the most important people in my life?

Regrets hurt. They burn. Just as you’re wired with nerves in your fingers to avoid being burned by hot objects, so too you’re wired with regrets to avoid being burned by life. Just as you automatically pull your finger from a hot stove and avoid hot objects, regret helps you steer clear of the thoughts, feeling and actions that keep you from being your best and highest self.

I offer a hopeful message: you can be released form the weight of regrets.

What are regrets?

Regrets are a longing to re-write history. Forgiveness heals the pain of regrets. You know you’re healed when you can look back and let the past be just as it was without feeling the urge to change it. Then you move forward and make better choices in the moment so you don’t arrive at tomorrow and look back with regrets about today.

What kinds of regrets do people experience?

The kinds of regrets you experience and your response to regrets are shaped by your temperament. It includes the time zone you’re temperamentally drawn to: the past, the present or the future. It’s also shaped by your expectations of yourself, your ideas about how other people should act, and your take on how the world works.

How do you deal with regrets?

If you’re drawn to living in the past, the kind of regret you most likely experience is guilt. Guilt is a pain that tells you there’s a mismatch between the person you’d like to be and the person you were in that moment.

Imagine the thoughts, feelings and actions of your ideal self as one supporting structure of the bridge and your real thoughts, feelings and actions on the other side of a river. Guilt spans the distance.
You wouldn’t keep your finger on a hot stove; yet, the some people do the very thing with the burning of guilt. Guilt can become a grudge you hold against yourself.

You minimize guilt by making different choices in the moment, adjusting your image of the ideal you or both. My guilt surrounding my grandmother’s death reminds me of the importance of taking time to celebrate; I now plan my schedule differently. I also edit my embarrassing child-like beliefs about my own powers. My presence at my grandmother’s party would not have kept my grandmother alive any more than a phobic person’s worries about crashes keep the plane in the air. Healing guilt means forgiving yourself for being an imperfect human who made a one-time mistake.

If you’re drawn to the present moment, your regret most likely comes in the form of disappointment. As you look at the bridge, imagine the events of the world outside of yourself as you expect it to be on one side of the river, and the world as you experience it on the other. Disappointment spans the distance. I had relatives who were disappointed about my grandmother’s death. As irrational as it sounds, even adults believed my grandmother would live forever.

Disappointment and guilt are distant cousins; the difference is that guilt is an inside job.

Moving beyond disappointment involves adjusting your expectations about how the world works, or shifting your experience. My grandmother didn’t live forever. AND she lived much longer than the doctors predicted after her stroke. Healing disappointment means forgiving another person or the world or even the divine force for being imperfect.

If you’re drawn to the future, your regret may take the form of sadness about lost dreams. Imagine a vase filled with flowers. I think of hope as a vase and the dreams as the bouquet. It’s always sad when the fresh flowers fade; however there’s always something else you can put in the vase. My grandmother would not be physically be there to meet my yet-unborn son; however, my grandmother’s stories could be part of my son’s life. Healing the regret of lost dreams means shifting your attention away from the flowers on their way to the compost bin; instead you welcome the new bouquet.

It sounds so simple. Here’s the catch. It’s not easy. Forgiveness, like garbage removal, is not a one-time event. The first time you do it, the load may be so heavy the bag breaks and you wind up cleaning up a new mess. Over time-with experience-it gets easier. You learn to take out the little loads so it doesn’t pile up. And you can learn to generate less trash.

Consider giving yourself a gift. Forgive yourself for one choice that brought you guilt. Forgive one other person for one action that disappointed you. Forgive the world for the bolt of unfairness that stood between you and an old dream.

Then celebrate the richness that you enjoy today.

Article reposted with permission. Original Author: Dr. Vicki Rackner is a former surgeon, founder of The Caregiver Club and author of Caregiving without Regrets. She works with people caring for others who want to manage stress, respond to loved ones’ needs and stretch health care dollars. Reach Dr. Vicki through her web site or 425-451-3777.

Dementia Certified In Home Care

What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s

Dementia Certified In Home CareWhat’s the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s?

It’s a common question, But, the terms Alzheimer’s disease and dementia may mean two very different things.  Dementia is a syndrome, not a disease. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines dementia as:

“… [A] word for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. It is not a specific disease. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there.”

Dementia is an umbrella term that Alzheimer’s disease can fall under. Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for about 50 to 70 percent of all cases of dementia, but many different diseases can cause dementia.

Other Forms of Dementia:

Besides disease other causes of dementia include:

  • infections, such as HIV
  • vascular diseases
  • stroke
  • depression
  • chronic drug use

People can have more than one type of dementia. This is known as mixed dementia. Often, people with mixed dementia have multiple conditions that may contribute to dementia. A diagnosis of mixed dementia can only be confirmed in an autopsy.

The World Health Organization says that 47.5 million people around the world are living with dementia.  Whether Alzheimer’s or some other cause, dementia is a frightening prospect for all and a reality for many.  In our next post, we will talk about differentiating between normal age related incidents versus signs of a more a serious problem.  

Seniors Helping Seniors of North and East Raleigh is owned and operated by dementia certified practitioners and participates in the effort to obtain a dementia friendly community status for the Wake Forest community.  If you have questions or need help, visit our website or call 919.761.5346.

How To Get Your Parent To Accept Help

My Parents Don’t Want Help

My parents don’t want help, but I know they need it.

How To Get Your Parent To Accept HelpWe know your predicament.  Your parents want to stay in their own home.  They are strongly independent (stubborn?).  You are concerned for them–it seems like they are going to take a fall sooner or later.  And if they take a bad fall they might lose all their independence and end up in a nursing home permanently.  Which seems crazy to you, because you know that if they would just accept a little help now (lose a little independence now), it will save them from losing all their independence later.

We know your situation.  We hear it every day.

We want to give you some encouragement: You can get through to them.  We see the break-through every day, too.

Here are several tips:

1) Introduce the topic gently, knowing that most of us are independent minded and we all would prefer to not have something pushed on us.  Talking about something (briefly) a half dozen times over the course of 8-10 months can be much more palatable than one big lecture.

2) In your brief conversations introduce facts into your conversation.  Again, not all at once, just drop them into the conversation now and again.  Here are some facts to consider sharing:

93% of seniors want to stay at home, all the way to the end.  Do you think this is what you would like?

According to the CDC, after the age of 65, we will take a fall every three years.  How long ago did you take your last fall?  Then, depending on their sense of humor, you might joke with them about whether they are due for another one soon!

The vast majority of seniors (and not only seniors) would prefer to simply go to sleep one night and not wake up the next morning.  Wouldn’t that be nice, to just skip over the pain and difficulties of aging, and just have it all happen at once, in a matter of hours?

Do you ever have to carry anything on the stairs?  What things do you carry up or down the stairs?  One of the top three ways that we fall is on the stairs.  Specifically, carrying something on the stairs.

Do you ever get a little scared of falling when you get out of the shower?  The next most common place to fall is in the bathroom.

According to the CDC, 2% of falls will result in a hip fracture.  Nearly all of these patients will never return home.  20% of them will die in one year from complications.

According to the CDC, 20 to 30% of senior falls cause the senior to “suffer moderate to severe injuries that make it hard for them to get around or live independently, and increase their risk of early death.”  Put this together with the fact that seniors will fall every three years, and we must mathematically conclude that if we have lived past the age of 77 without a moderate to severe fall–one that has impaired our ability to get around or live independently–we are overdue for one.

3) At some point money is going to come up.  “Not only do I not need help, I don’t want to spend the money for help!”  Again, our advice is to keep these conversations gentle and come back to it later.  The next time the conversation comes up and the mood seems right, you can try to appeal to their logic: What would be better, to spend $50/week for 10 years, or end up in a nursing home in 2 years and lose your house and all of your savings to Medicaid?  (This is a simplification, but useful in getting your parent to think more logically about their situation financially–if you need support in going through numbers in detail we can recommend outstanding trusted senior advisers.)  We have witnessed many clients grit their teeth and refuse to get even a little help, and within months the statistics catch up with them.  One couple’s bottom-line: he saved $500 until he fell.  He was rushed to the hospital (and passed away six weeks later from complications), leaving his wife who needed more care, to spend $50,000 over the next 18 months, until she passed away from a broken heart.  They became our customer either way, and the better financial result for our company was for them to choose what they chose.  But we are a different kind of senior care company.  Our mindset is to protect our senior’s health and protect their independence–it deeply saddened us to get that phone call after he fell.  

4)  Ask your parents if they would be okay in just having your friend come over to visit.  No decisions to be made.  Just a visit from your friend.  Once we meet your parents, in a familiar environment, we will be able to help the conversation progress along.  

5)  Talk to your parents about ‘trying out’ some help.  We don’t have minimum hours so our people can come over to do what your parents wants to do.  Go the movies, no problem.  Go to the senior center to play Bingo, no problem.  Pull some weeds in the garden or replace a light bulb, no problem.  And there are no long term commitments so your parent can stop if they want to.  But if we get to this point, they’re not going to want to.

In the meantime, we are here to encourage you.  We have a simple mission: to be a blessing to seniors–your parents, you as their child, and our senior caregivers.  We are all striving, with love in our hearts to make the world, in our own small way, a better place.