Category Archives: The Faith Community

Easy Way to Connect with Grandparents from Miles Away

Want to connect with your grandmother or grandfather but can’t go the miles to see them and don’t know what to say over the phone?

Stop feeling guilty and start writing! Here are some quick and easy ideas and tips on how to connect and what to say!

Use the US mail, don’t rely on text or email. Send your love and hugs by way of a meaningful postcard, notecard, or short letter.  Include a photo from time to time. Postcards and notes can be enjoyed over and over again and will bring new smiles each time. Plus, your card and photo can be shown with pride to friends, care-partnering staff, and other family members.  Concerned your grandparent can’t see or read your note? They will enjoy holding it close and looking at it and someone else will read it aloud to them.

Don’t overthink what you write! Write a few words to express feelings of love and gratitude. The feelings of love and joy that you create through your cards will flush through an elder’s whole being and stay with them long after your note is read.

Getting started:

  1. Buy an assortment of postcards whenever you travel or buy a box of assorted note cards. When buying note cards, get ones that speak to your grandparent’s interests and preferences. Such as ones with photos or sketches of flowers, or birds, scenery, cats or dogs, or old Americana.
  2. Address and stamp each postcard or envelop. Now your notes are halfway complete!
  3. Write multiple notes at one time and mail them a week or more apart.
  4. To accommodate diminished vision, use large and legible lettering.
  5. Get in the habit of sending one of the cards on a regular basis. Whatever works for your schedule whether it is monthly or weekly or less often. But, do it! You will be glad you did!
  6. When on a short or long trip, send a postcard. Share your adventures. It does not matter that you will be home before the postcard arrives in their mail. Remember, it is your thoughtfulness that counts and the smile that gets delivered.

Thoughts on what to say:

  1. Express your love, give compliments, and share happy times, upbeat memories and emotions. This is particularly important if you are writing to a loved one with dementia. As dementia progresses, an individual is most able to connect through words that trigger emotions and feelings.
  2. Share your adventures through travel postcards! Postcards are great for letting an elder know that you are thinking of them. Remind them of how much you enjoyed going on trips with them when you were little or hearing about their trips to the beach or to the mountains. Thank them for inspiring your love of traveling. Bring your words back to thoughts of your grandparent; remind them how wonderful you think they are, and how much you love them.
  3. For your grandparent who loved to BBQ, bake, or cook amazing Sunday dinners, remind them of your favorite dishes or desserts that only they could prepare. If writing to your grandmother, let her know of your attempts to make it and how it turned out. Tell her it was almost as tasty and pretty as hers and that it was a big hit with your friends. Thank her for teaching you how to make it and sharing her recipes. Tell her how you happily bragged to your friends that it was your grandmother’s recipe! Give her compliments and you are sure to raise a smile.  Let her know if you burned it but will try again. That too will bring a smile.
  4. For a grandparent who was a gardener, get cards with beautiful plants and flowers on the front and remind them how much you enjoyed their fresh flowers, the roses, the iris, or potted geraniums. Let your grandparent know that you can actually still conjure up the scent of their beautiful yellow roses. Add a sprinkle of floral essential oil or perfume to your card.
  5. For the outdoorsman, send postcards of mountains, trails, fishing, and big-sky country.
  6. To the grandparent who could repair anything, share a story of something you repaired!
  7. If you’re a student, update your grandparent on your studies. They will be proud of your accomplishments. Share your favorite subject, especially, if that subject is important to your grandparent.

Whatever you write, focus on helping your grandparent enjoy the moment! That is the most meaningful and loving way to stay connected from afar.

The feel-good moments you create will be enjoyed repeatedly – each time they pull your card from their pocket, desk, or bag, they will have another opportunity to enjoy it and smile.

Your cards and words will help your grandparent stay engaged in your life, give their life added meaning, and both of you will benefit from the loving feelings expressed.

 For more good ideas on how to stay connected with a loved one, go to www.360eldersolutions.com or contact, Sue S. Wilson, LMSW at sue@360eldersolutions.com to make an appointment for a free initial 30-minute consultation.  Sue is a Certified Trainer for AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  

http://www.360eldersolutions.com

www.AGEucate.com

How Care Partners Can Embrace Wellness and Joy

I was privileged to speak yesterday to the Dallas Area Parkinson’s Society (DAPS)  about how care partners can embrace wellness and joy.  For persons living with Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological conditions, finding wellness and joy in everyday life can be challenging and elusive at best.  I know this first-hand, as my mother lived with Parkinson’s Disease (PD).  Speaking from experience as her partner in this journey, my words of wisdom for embracing wellness and joy encompassed some simple steps.

  1.  First, pat yourself on the back for the bravery and courage it takes to face PD.  It’s not always a friendly companion.  I love the hummingbird as a symbol of tireless joy and accomplishing that which seems impossible.  Care partners remember every day how special you are.
  2. There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path, but don’t allow yourself to become one of them.  Accept your faults and imperfections and move on with.  Those who linger on imperfection will never experience wellness or joy.
  3. Be like the sun,  and shine even if no one ever thanks you for it! Expecting of others is almost always a road to disappointment, so shine your light if for no one else but yourself!   Others will see it, I promise!
  4. Live for today and only today.  We spend far too much time worrying about what could happen tomorrow and missing the precious moments that this day brings.
  5. When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate;  when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.   We’ll be better people for embracing both as a gift.
  6. Do all in your power to reduce stress.  If you are getting on your own nerves, it may be time for re-grouping!  Stress affects our physical, social, emotional and spiritual well being.  Learn ways to cope with and reduce stress such as:
    • Practice deep breathing throughout the day.  Fully fill those lungs and then a long, slow exhale through the mouth.  Deep breathing reduces stress, improves posture, relieves pain and boosts energy, among many other health benefits.
    • Keep moving.   When you don’t feel like moving do it anyway.  Your body, brain and well being will thank you.  Find exercise groups specifically for PD.  You’ll have the added benefit of connecting with others while improving your balance, energy, and stamina.
    • Laugh…often!  Laughter changes the chemicals in our brain and makes us feel good all over.  And it’s okay to laugh at ourselves.  In fact, you might start there!
    • Get creative.  Research tells us that persons living with PD often have more creative brains.  Think about this.  You have to find ways to do things differently.  So start a new creative adventure and embrace it.  You might just surprise yourself!
    • Connect with others.  Intentionally hug and touch (all brain boosting, chemical changing things happen when you touch!).  This will add meaning to your life that has immeasurable benefits.
    • Embrace the Journey.  It was not what you had planned, nor one you would have chosen, but it’s yours.  Sweet, precious moments of joy, happiness, and wellness will come out of this practice.  You will enrich your life and the lives of those around you.

Pam Brandon is the President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institut and a passionate advocate for those living with Parkinson’s Disease and their care partners.  She feels blessed each day for the Parkinson’s journey that she and her mother Jeanette shared for almost 10 years.   

The Dallas Area Parkinson’s Society is celebrating almost 40 years of impacting and improving the lives of those affected by Parkinson’s Disease.  The work they do and others across the country is helping to create transformative change.

http://www.AGEucate.com

http://www.DAPS.us

 

 

Caregiver Martyr Syndrome – What to Look For and How to Help

Caregivers of older adults are some of the most selfless, committed people on the planet.   Simply put, not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver.  The problem lies in the fact that some caregivers believe they are the only ones who can care properly for their family member.  This is often referred to as Caregiver Martyr Syndrome.

martyr, 3D rendering, traffic signI’ve talked about this martyr syndrome many times over the years when speaking to family caregivers.  Often I get an inquisitive look – like “Wow” she just called me a Martyr.  When I follow-up my question with assuring them that I got an A+ in the school of caregiver martyrdom,  I would hear and feel  sighs of relief, as if I had just given them permission to be honest with themselves.

Caregiver martyrs are certain that they are the ONLY ones who can properly care for their loved one.  Because they are such caring and selfless souls, they become intertwined in the needs and desires of their loved one, so much so that it could easily be confused with co-dependence.  So, if a caregiver believes “I am the only one that can properly care for mom”, then guess what happens?

  • Other family members and friends become “inadequate” to care for your loved one.  This spells resentment and stirs up anger among the caring circle.
  • Caregiver martyrs take on more and more responsibility, often to the detriment of their own needs or those of their family.
  • As this snowball continues, caregivers isolate themselves (and their loved one ) from many people who are willing (and able) to help in the care of their loved one.

Martyrs need to step back and reflect – then get out a paper and pen, listing all of the things they do for their loved one AND all of their other life responsibilities.  When I ask caregivers to do this, they are often shocked to see all they have taken on.  Then the big question:

Is it really possible for anyone to take on this much responsibility and do it well?  The answer is clearly NO.   So the next step is to allow others to help by taking on some of these tasks, whether they are things that must be done every day, every week or every month.  Go back to your caring circle and allow each of them the blessing of choosing something that will lighten your load.

Being open to accept help, and realizing that you are not the only person on the planet who can provide good care for your loved one may be the greatest gift you can give to yourself, your family members, friends, and most of all your care receiver.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  Caring for her own parents transformed her life purpose to help others who are caring for older adults.  Creator of the Dementia Live™️ Experience, this program is helping thousands of caregivers in the US and abroad to better understand people living with dementia.  

www.AGEucate.com

Caregiver Burnout: What to Look for and How to Help

burnout - ngste CLosing sleep, poor eating habits, irritability or short tempered – these symptoms may start small and snowball quickly into what is referred to as caregiver burnout.   Professionals and families need to know what to look for and how to help caregivers.  It’s a serious matter and growing, as more families are caring for their loved ones at home with little or no help.

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude – from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.  Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able to do – either physically, emotionally or financially.

Guilt is a huge problem with caregivers, especially those who are caring for someone with dementia or other chronic illness.  As I reflect on my many years caring for my parents, I think guilt was the over riding struggle.  Like most caregivers, I felt guilty when I was not spending time with my parents, and when I was caring for them I felt guilty that I wasn’t with my children and husband.  It was a constant balancing act – and more than often I felt that I was on the low end of the teeter totter.

Symptoms of caregiver burnout are similar to symptoms of stress and depression:  They may include:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family and social activities
  • Irritability
  • Altered eating patterns
  • Increased sugar consumption or use of alcohol or drugs
  • Frequent headaches or sudden onset of back pain
  • Impatience
  • Loss of compassion
  • Overreacting to criticism or commonplace accidents
  • Resenting the care recipient and/or situation
  • Wishing to “have the whole thing over with”
  • Feeling trapped
  • High levels of fear and anxiety

Playing the “if only games; saying over and over “if only this would happen; or “if only this hadn’t happened”

It is critically important that senior care professionals understand what to look for when they are talking with families.  Symptoms may start slowly but can quickly snowball into a serious situation. Protecting our older adults from neglect and abuse means a watchful eye and being able to guide families with support and help the need.

A few sources for help and assistance are:

      • Social workers
      • Faith based counselors
      • Family Caregiver Support Groups
      • Area Agencies on Aging (hotline 800-963-5337) (www.n4A.org)
      • Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline (800-272-3900) (www.alz.org)
      • National Elder Abuse hotline (800-677-1116)

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www.ncea.acl.gov

    )

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and creator Dementia Live™️ experience, helping caregivers worldwide to better understand dementia and aging, transforming professional and family caregiver’s ability to better care for our older adults.  

www.AGEucate.com