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Wife to Caregiver and Beyond

By janice | July 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

I met my husband when I was 12, we were married when we were 19, and have been married 61 years. We raised two children, did well financially, and had a good life. He was my rock and my best friend. We exercised, ate nutritious, and worked full time long after the age of retirement even though he had some memory loss and I had eye surgery. Three years ago our lives changed dramatically. He had emergency surgery. Whether it was the trauma of the surgery and hospital stay, the effects of the anesthesia and medication, or something else, I will never know but his memory not only didn’t recover but it has deteriorated dramatically since then.

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Holding onto a Positive Outlook

By janice | June 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

There are always choices to be made. You can dwell on the sunny side of life or the dark and stormy side – you can cultivate a positive outlook or a negative outlook.

When your thoughts tend to view life challenges and situations as something you can deal with, you probably have a more positive outlook on life. When your thoughts tend to find the worst in everything or reduce your expectations by considering the worst possible scenarios, you probably have a negative outlook. As you can imagine, outlook makes a major difference in a person view of the world.

This outlook often starts with self-talk; the endless stream of unspoken thoughts running through your head. Self-talk can come from logic and reason or from misconceptions and misperceptions.

Judith T. Moskowitz, professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University in Chicago, developed a set of eight skills to help foster positive emotions.
1. Noticing positive events
2. Savoring positive events
3. Expressing gratitude
4. Practicing mindfulness
5. Reframing events
6. Noticing personal strengths
7. Setting and working toward attainable goals
8. Displaying acts of kindness.

However, maintaining a positive outlook is more challenging when you are the primary care provider for a loved one. Let’s look at how Jennie managed to re-capture her positive outlook.

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Caregiver Burnout

By janice | May 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

Most caretakers experience burnout at some point. When it occurs and isn’t addressed, they eventually become unable to provide quality care. According to the 2015 National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute, an estimated 43.5 million American adults were unpaid caregivers and about 85 percent cared for someone related to them. Taking care of a loved one with dementia, physical disabilities, or other age-related conditions makes demands on a person’s time, energy, and emotions — demands that, as the Cleveland Clinic warn, “can easily seem overwhelming.”

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Inner Critic or Inner Coach

By janice | May 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

    Do you ever have conversations with yourself; ones that take place in your head? As Dr. Jessica Nicolosi, a clinical psychologist based in New York says, “Talking to ourselves is completely within the norm. In fact, we talk to ourselves constantly.” This inner voice might “talk” throughout the day or be unrecognizable; a critic or a coach. An inner critic is negative and may arise when you’ve made a mistake or are working on something difficult. This critic demands perfection or surrender. You may be very familiar with the voice nagging you into believing that anything other than perfect is not worth trying. It points out previous failures and warns of things that stand in the way of getting what you want. An inner coach is positive and more likely to arise when you are succeeding. The inner coach supports your efforts, motivates you to keep trying even when you aren’t totally successful, encourages you to work toward improvement, and helps you figure out what might be standing in the way of your performance – like a personal trainer for your attitude!

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I Can’t Do This Any Longer

By janice | May 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

My husband has dementia and my goal is for him is to stay home as long as possible. Yet, after four years of living with the behaviors and chaos involved, there are days when it seems as if I just can’t be his care giver or provider one minute longer. The quick answer is “don’t take it personally, it’s the disease” but that’s easier said than done – this is a wearing, discouraging, and overwhelming journey many days. But yes, I could answer the same questions, remind him over and over, and listen to the same stories thirty and forty times. Then, the coronavirus arrived and the stresses tripled. He doesn’t understand the virus, he is home with nothing to do, he can’t go anywhere, and he is unable to have company. He asks even more questions and doesn’t remember what is said from moment to moment. I am more fortunate than many caregivers, though. My family is supportive, money is not an issue, we have a lovely home, we are physically healthy, he takes care of his personal needs, and he is with me.

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Keys to Maintaining a Health Lifestyle

By janice | April 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

How do you want to spend the rest of your life – going slowly downhill until death or being the person, you want to be despite life’s challenges and stressors? Maintaining a healthy lifestyle plays a vital role. If your answer to that question is to be the person I want to be despite life’s challenges and those challenges include being a care-giver, your goal is more difficult. Let’s look at how the physical, intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, and functional dimensions of wellness play a role. They are key! As the old Spanish proverb says “A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” As the mechanic of your health and a caregiver, you must maintain your mind and body, as well as that of the person you care for.

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Developing Mental Strength

By janice | April 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

I have taken over most of the household duties and responsibilities since my husband had surgery three years ago. The circumstances of the surgery led to a marked decrease in his long- and short-term memory. I sometimes resent having to do those duties and responsibilities and to deal with his questions, paranoia, forgetfulness and irrational thinking on a daily and hourly basis. Retirement communities, assisted living, and in-home assistance didn’t work out; so here we are. Yet, I am fortunate, my family is close, we are financially sound, we have a nice place to live and we are physically healthy. So, how do I get past the feelings of self-pity that often sneak in?

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Loneliness

By janice | April 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

A recent study found that loneliness is worse than smoking 15 cigarettes a day for a person’s health. Loneliness and social isolation are public health issues that affect more than one-third of adults, with seniors at higher risk for depression, substance abuse, and increased health issues. If you add taking care of a person experiencing an illness and the guidelines to isolate because of COVID19, you have a strong case for loneliness. Then there is a deeper loneliness, as well. The loneliness that occurs when you “lose’ the person you shared your life with.

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Acceptance

By janice | April 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

How can I accept the role I have been given or have taken on – care-giver. I never wanted that role, I don’t want it now, and I resent having to put my life on hold to take care of someone else. Yes, there are many positives: we are healthy, he is fairly functional, our family is close, and we have a nice home. Then is it just me feeling sorry for myself? Maybe! So how do I change my outlook and become more accepting? Let’s look at what Ali did.

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Frustration

By janice | April 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

Being a care-giver is a difficult role. The advent of the coronavirus has increased the demands, the discouragement, and the frustration enormously.

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