Category: #alzherimers

Which caregiver role fits you, right now?

January 5, 2022

Which caregiver role fits you, right now?

  1. Hands-on caregiver – you are physically there and you help with their daily needs (i.e., dressing, bathing, toileting, brushing their teeth, meal preparation and feeding).
  2. Companion care – they can do most things on their own and you are there to provide company, keep them engaged with conversation (emotional support) and make some meals as well as medication reminders and light housekeeping. Maybe, take them to an appointment or on errands.
  3. Long-distance caregiving – you probably live an hour or more away, you may be helping with money management, and you may be in charge of making appointments, finding in-home care assistance, and planning for emergencies.
  4. Accidental caregiver – Oh crap, I did not see this coming, right now. I know that I have to help, but I am not sure what I am good at? I will muddle through.
  5. Reluctant caregiver – you may find yourself responsible for someone who has abused you in the past or that you do not get along with. This one is very difficult and it may be best to find help immediately and place yourself in the long-distance caregiving camp.
  6. A Swoop-in, create havoc and swoop on out caregiver – these folks need an ass whipping. They come in every once-in-a-while, state and do whatever they feel like, without regards to the care receiver or the other care givers and get things stirred up and then they leave. Most likely, these folks are just waiting for the care receiver to die so they will not have to be bothered.
  7. Provider of support to the caregiver – Physically and emotionally help the caregiver to excel at being a caregiver. You help the caregiver with the chores or things that need to be taken care of at their house or the house of the care receiver. (Laundry, house cleaning, cooking a meal or two, mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, running errands, etc.)

Some of you have never identified as a caregiver, it is just something that you do. You are helping your mom. You are helping your dad. You are helping your wife. You are helping your husband. You have never viewed it as caregiving, they need help and I will help them. It is that simple.

You never even give it a second thought. That is what family does for each other. I get it, I have been there too. It is what good friends do for each other too. While we don’t identify with the word “caregiver,” that is what we are. A lot of us are the Lone Ranger. We are fine, for a while. We can manage our lives, our jobs, our homes and all of our loved one’s stuff, for a while. Usually, it is about 18 months in and we are stressed out, frustrated, tired and overwhelmed. We look up one day, and wonder how we got here? It happened so slowly and it wasn’t too bad or too hard. But, now, it takes a lot more time and effort to help our loved one.

Our love for them has not changed. Our goals for them have not changed. Our goals for ourselves have not changed. What has changed is our own health. We are tired and we just cannot get rested. Our eating habits are worse, we have gained weight and those stress headaches and lower back pain keep us off of our game. Work is work. It hasn’t slowed down and I am expected to perform at my best every day. I can’t concentrate as well as I used to. I find myself worrying more about my loved one and I can’t remember the last time I had some free time.

What would help you the most in the next three months?

Do you need an easy to use, fill-in-the-blank essential information binder?

The three things it will do for you –

  1. Decrease your stress level
  2. Empower you to be more in control, to make better decisions
  3. Information will be easily accessed when needed

What is included in this Stress Buster, Time Saver, Information Binder:

  1. Banking Information (including retirement information)
  2. Bills – list of and when due
  3. Doctors and other Health care providers list
  4. Documents needed
  5. HIPAA release form
  6. Home information (home, vehicles, rental property)
  7. Income to be received (from Social Security, Retirement, Renters, etc.)
  8. Legal Documents needed
  9. Medical bills and EOB’s (explanation of benefits, with tips and info)
  10. Medical history (incl. diagnoses, surgeries, devices used, etc.)
  11. Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plan (how to check on EOB or MSN for coverages and benefits)
  12. Medications (list of medications, administration check-off list, incl. over-the-counter medications0
  13. Online accounts (User names, Passwords, Answers to security questions)
  14. Tasks to be done sheets

Available as a Binder Kit (with pages in sheet protectors, highlighters, ink pens and a mechanical pencil) 

OR

As a downloadable, fillable PDF file for Single use or Family Use

Use this link for more information and to Order product.

Binder Kit

The next thing that may help you or your loved one is to KNOW whether the medications you are taking are working for you, against you or doing nothing for you. It is a genetic test for medications. You do it once and use the information for the rest of your life. It is a cheek swab. Have your own doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner order the test (they may use a prescription pad), get it to me and we will get you started.

For more information and a list of medications that have a genetic impact, click on this link

Right Med® Test Kit

Scroll down to blue bar that states Right Med Mediation List and click on that link to see the list of medications.

Services offered are listed under the Options tab. Click on link below to access options page.

Options

Option 1 is for an overview and is available to all.

Options 2 and 3 are researched, doable plans of action using best practices and your individual needs as guidelines. You will be heard and understood. These require a conversation and acceptance as they are customized and detailed.

** I won’t waste my time or your money, if these options are not for you. **

Options 2 and 3 are customized for the individual with researching, troubleshooting and support plans for the individual and the family.

The difference in Option 2 and Option 3 – Option 3 includes follow-up for three months instead of one month. With Option 3, updating the support plan is included. I am your guide and will help you to keep moving forward.

My goal with Option 2 or Option 3 is to help you have an understanding of your options, what you may be facing in the future and how to be as prepared as possible. To have the information that you will need to make decisions and choose the best options for you and your family.

Who do you know that could benefit from any of these products or services?

I need your help to get the word out about these products and services. I want to help those that need these things. If I can make their journey less stressful, that is what I want to do. Please pass along this information to those you know. Thank you for your time and effort.

All products and services are available throughout the U.S.

Pat

Will you ever be okay with being wrong?

How many better decisions could you make IF, you felt it was okay to be wrong?

December 29, 2021

Okay to be wrong? Nope, I can’t even think it, much less say it out loud. For those of us that are “recovering” perfectionists (Remember, I am a work in progress.), still have a hard time believing that being wrong is okay.

Trust me, I know that making a mistake can be deadly. That was drilled into us at pharmacy school. But, not every mistake will be deadly. It may cause some harm or no harm. None of us want to hurt another person, we are here to help you to get better. To thrive. My yearly average was pretty good. Some years, I made no mistakes and some years, I made one. It sucks to have to write-up the incident report. Thankfully, mine was never the wrong medication. Wrong strength, wrong dosage form (tablet instead of capsule), incorrect directions, wrong doctor name, wrong original date, wrong quantity, all count as errors or mis fills. Every mistake and every incident gets written-up and sent in to corporate.

I hate making mistakes! I get angry at myself. I replay the incident over and over in my mind. Sometimes, I can figure out what happened and sometimes, I cannot. If it is a procedural error, such as disruption with a phone call or a customer at the window, then we can put things into place to mitigate those disruptions. If it is a look and mis-see error, usually you cannot fix that. Once you have “seen” drug, names and directions, you tend to see the same thing every time that you look at the prescription and the label. That is why it is best if a technician types in the prescription and the pharmacist checks it with fresh eyes. You always want at least two sets of eyes on it. I did not really mean to go this deep on this.

The point is, if you can identify a “fix” or a better way to do it next time, then you have learned something and most likely you will not make that same mistake again. You have learned and moved forward.

Isn’t that what is best for all of us? But, no, we keep beating ourselves up for past mistakes and errors. If we do that long enough, we will never make another decision that may impact someone else.

What if we could, be a little kinder to ourselves and allow ourselves to learn from what went wrong? Learn from what did not work? We catastrophize, we imagine the worst possible outcome of an action or event. For example, “If I flunk this test, I will fail this course, I won’t graduate and I will be a failure in life.” Another one is, “If I don’t recover fully in the first two weeks, after surgery, then I will never get better and I will be in pain or disabled the rest of my life.

97% of the time, none of that is true. You keep studying and doing better in your class. If you fail, you will have to re-take it, and then you will graduate. Healing takes time and you do get better as time goes on. You do have to do your part with rehab, moving and taking your medication as directed. Your pain will lessen and you will be able to get back to your activities.

I guess that we all need to catastrophize occasionally. Maybe, it keeps us on our toes? If you are going to catastrophize, then you have to go all in with your thinking. Ok, the worst has happened. Now what? Keep going.

What if we don’t catastrophize? What if we stop the automatic negative thoughts that come to us? What if the negative thinking is hurting you more than it is keeping you safe? If you always look for the bad or the worst, you will find it! The opposite is also true. If you look for the possibilities or the good, you will find that too. Stress and anxiety really does play a part in how we think about things.

You are right, sometimes things will get bad. But, not everything gets bad. We don’t deny reality, we do our best to accept it and provide the best quality of life possible. I will never give up planning and hoping for the best. I have learned that it is okay to make a mistake. It is okay to make adjustments. It is even okay, to try another approach. Trying is never failing. F.A.I.L. – First Attempt In Learning

It is our own screwed up mindset that keeps us afraid and that fear of failure rears its ugly head. Our self-worth gets tied up in to how well we perform. Think of a baby that is learning to walk. How many times do they fall? How many times do we tell them, “You can do it?” Or “try again?” They are learning something new and it is going to take a little time for them to learn. What would happen if the first time that they tried to walk and fell, they just sat there and cried and never tried to walk again? We would take them to their doctor to find out what was going on. We would think, “Ok, they fell, but they can try again and again and soon they will be able to walk.”  We will even help them to get up and move those legs.

Have you ever been pushed to explain your reasoning? Even when someone is curious and really just wants to know, we get all mad and start defending our position rather than explaining. That conversation never ends well, does it? What if we can be curious and wonder about our choices. What options have we thought of? What options could be found if we talked with others?  Don’t guess. Don’t assume, ask questions when you do not understand. I like to use a round table discussion where everyone is helping to brainstorm. Everyone throws out their ideas and nothing is ruled out until after the brainstorming session has ended.

None of us is very comfortable being critiqued. If you work for a company, then you will have a yearly evaluation. Sometimes, they are not pleasant. It is not that they are bad or really even negative, just some things that we need to improve. When we realize that we are receiving feedback to help us to become better and more efficient, we tend to accept the information easier than if we think we have done something wrong. Don’t let your automatic negative thoughts run away with you. Take a minute or two and assess the situation. The people around you want you to succeed. If they don’t, then find new people to be around.

I guess we did chase a rabbit or two during this blog.

Let yourself be open to learning new things. If you are wrong, admit that you are wrong. I promise you; it won’t kill you to admit such a thing. I have done it myself and it did not kill me. In fact, when I stopped trying to be perfect, most decisions became easier to make. They turned out quite well, too. I am smart enough to know when I don’t know. I find others that are smarter than me and I ask questions. I learn new things and new ways of doing things.

When you are right, don’t be an ass. Tomorrow, you could be wrong. Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? Decide if you want to be a leader or a follower. A leader will take charge and make a decision after considering the current options. A leader knows when they have made a mistake. A leader will say, “I have messed up. This did not work out as I had hoped. Let’s try this.” A leader will say, “We made a good choice and things are working out nicely. Thank you all for your input.” When we admit our mistakes, we make it easier for others to admit theirs. Being wrong does not mean you are bad. Being wrong does not mean you should feel shame. Being wrong is just a thing that happens sometimes.

If you try to avoid mistakes, maybe you are not open to learning new things? Making mistakes does not make us a failure. Failure is an event and never a person. I wanted my techs to check me. I always told them that I had rather they be wrong than me be wrong. We need to challenge things that we think are wrong. They may or may not be wrong, but we need to find out. Question when you do not understand. Something new takes two, three or five times to hear before being understood.

Admit your mistakes. Look at the new skill you will learn. Resilience is what you learn when you get back up and try again. Resilience is one key to succeeding. You will not like making a mistake nor should you, but you do need to accept that you have made a mistake.

When you make a mistake what will you do? Will you pretend that it did not happen? Will you point the finger at someone else? Or will you take responsibility for your mistake and learn from it? Will you forgive yourself and move forward? If someone else makes a mistake, will you empathize with them instead of blaming them?

Besides, when you admit your own mistake … no one can ever hold it over you.

Pat

Who are you? Who are you helping?

I am the daughter of a dad with Alzheimer’s.

I am the son of a mom with Parkinson’s.

I am the wife of a man that has had a stroke.

I am the husband of a woman that has breast cancer.

I am the partner of one that has complications of diabetes.

December 22, 2021

You find yourself helping your mom with grocery shopping, taking her to the doctor, and having her hair done. You find yourself helping your dad by mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, and cleaning the house.

Maybe, you are doing their errands, laundry or going to the bank for them.

No big deal, it is just what you do for family. They took care of you when you were younger and now it is your turn to help them.

Health issues arise. Both physical and mental. They are no longer the independent, self-sufficient person that they once were. A part of you thinks that this is temporary, but the other part of you knows that this is the beginning of a decline in someone that you love.

We talk about parents and their needs, but it could be a spouse or partner. A life-altering tragedy has occurred and now you are helping them. You still have the same responsibilities you had before with your own job and your own health needs. Don’t forget about your civic responsibilities, church activities or friendships.

Over time, their needs take up more time and effort. Your free time becomes less and less. There will be times that you cannot take care of your own things very well as you are helping them with their things. It happened slowly and you didn’t really notice it until something like an unpaid bill smacks you in the face. You beat yourself up for missing the due date. You have never missed a due date before. Oh crap, I have had to take money out of my savings to pay some of my bills. Oh yeah, I had to miss a week’s work.  When was the last time I ate dinner with my kids?

I need a break; you think to yourself. But, how and who will step-in?

It is about this time that you start to look around and see how much time your helping has turned in to over these past couple of years. You start wondering and evaluating what has been happening and what would be best.

Questions to ponder:

  1. Is what I am doing for them necessary or can they do it themselves?
  2. Are you doing these things so others will sing your praises?
  3. What can be delegated to other people?
  4. Are you trying to exert control over a situation that is uncontrollable?
  5. Are you feeling guilty?
  6. Do you feel resentment building up?
  7. Are you open to others helping?

These are hard questions. These are necessary questions for you to answer to help you realize where you are and how you feel.  Maybe you have some guilt trying to run your life. A little guilt is good for us. It makes sure we are doing things for the “right” reason. When you start the “Should” in your thoughts and sentences, watch out. Big guilt heading your way. “Should’s” need to be stomped out of our vocabulary. That would stop a lot of the guilt. Are your “should;s” coming from what other people say? You could say, I can’t do that, but you are more than welcome to do that.

You are not all powerful. You are not all knowing. You do have options. Be open to seeing the possibilities. What do you want to be? What do you want to take care of? What are you good at? Your own attitude towards situations do make a huge difference in how you feel about a task.

Set certain days for certain things. Example, Medical Mondays – all appts. Need to be on a Monday morning. Grocery store Thursday evenings. Find the day and time in your own schedule that will work for you.

People are usually willing to help. However, they cannot read your mind. Make that list of things and keep it ready. Pull it out and sign them up. Need a meal fixed, put it on the list. Does the yard need to be mowed? Put it on the list. Laundry? They can pick it up and bring it back when they are finished. Do you need a “go-fer” for the day? Add your errands to the list.

Your new normal does not have to be awful. Your new normal does not have to always be stressful. Your new normal does not have to take over your own life. Your new normal does not have to cause resentment

Your new normal can be a blessing. Your new normal can bring your whole family closer together. Your new normal can help you learn to delegate better. Your new normal can help you to communicate better. Your new normal can be whatever it becomes because you are open to the possibilities.

Pat

Let it be … Even though every fiber of your being tells you to control it!

December 8, 2021

Some of you are breaking out in a sweat right now. WTF! I can’t let it be. It will be a disaster. He won’t do it like I do it. It will be a mess when I get back. If I don’t tell them what to do, they won’t do anything. And many, many other statements.

What to deal with first?

Let’s start with the control freak or as I like to call them, the person that “likes to take charge.”  

Who are you and why are you a control freak? Usually, a control freak is driven by an urge that they want everything done in a way that THEY feel is correct. Sometimes, it is because the control freak does not have control in an area of their own life and they will seek to control something that they feel they can control. It is also possible that the control freak has an obsessive-compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder or possible a personality disorder. Sometimes, it is the person that has been through it before and has the experience. Other times it is the person who will step up and handle the situation. So, you see, there may be many factors as to why a person seems to be a control freak.

If you are the control freak, check yourself before you wreck yourself and your relationships. What are the real reasons behind your behavior? Is it truly to help the other person or is it for your own benefit? Do you trust others to handle situations as they arise? The better question is, will you trust others to handle situations as they arise?

Being effective does not mean you always have to control things, people or the situation. The reality is that we cannot control things, people or situations. The only thing that we can control is ourselves and our own views. We can’t control the outcome. We can control our mindset. We can control our work ethic. We can control how we treat others. No, they don’t make you treat them any certain way, you choose to treat them a certain way. We can control what we eat, how much exercise we do, how much rest and destressing we do. We can control asking for needed help before we get to the end of our rope. We can control what we focus on. Know that what you focus on shapes what we do and how we feel. Will you focus on possibilities/solutions or will you focus on the problems?

I have heard this phrase a lot, but I could not understand it for the longest time. “Let it go.” How in the hell do you let something go? You still think about it. You still wonder. You even still try to fix it. I finally read something that helped me to understand what “let it go” really means. It means to “let it be.” Let it be just as it is, right now. There is nothing to do but accept it as it is, right now. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to fix it. You don’t have to feel a certain way about it. I know realize why I have always hated the phrase, “it is what it is.” I hated it because it frustrated me and because I could not accept that “it” could not be changed. Only accepted, as it is, right now. I didn’t have to like it. I didn’t have to fix it. I didn’t have to do anything.

It’s funny, when I stopped fighting the things that were not going to change and changed how I reacted to them I was much calmer and more at peace. I had to learn that it was my own reactions that were hurting me. I had to decide what I will accept or put up with and what I could not accept or put up with. Decision’s time!

Things you CANNOT Control:

  1. If people like you or dislike you
  2. Other people’s feelings
  3. Other people’s thoughts or beliefs
  4. Other people’s actions
  5. Who our relatives are?
  6. The weather
  7. The past
  8. The exact outcome. Of anything. Ever.

If it is not an immediate danger. Cool your jets. If death is not imminent, wait. Sometimes, things need to work themselves out. A few failures are a good thing. They are learning times. Failure is an event and never a person.

Be the flexible, can-do person. Understand that plans change. Priorities change quickly. Adapt to making the best decision possible with the information that you have, right now. Update as needed.

Have no attachment to the outcome. Calm down, you have to learn to be in the present moment. There may be so many factors that go in to an outcome and we cannot control all of them. Be open to possibilities and outcomes, just don’t become attached to them.

Learn to accept change. This is so very hard. We are creatures of habit. That is not a bad thing, it becomes very frustrating and maddening when we do not make allowances for things beyond our control. Work on focusing on the top three priorities. Focus on the things that matter the most and let go (let it be) of the other things. Stop trying to change the unchangeable. Just because we accept “what is,” does not mean we give up hope or stop trying for the best quality of life possible.

What if the care receiver is the control freak?

When the strength and courage that you admired in your parents has now changed into control freak behavior, how can you handle them and it? You will be provoked. You will be angry. You may hear constant complaining. You may even feel like a servant sometimes. Annoyed, Frustrated, Resentment and Anger coming up! Sadness will be there too. Watch out for your triggers to be triggered.

Manipulation by elderly parents:

  1. They may guilt trip you
  2. Nice to your face but talk about you to others
  3. They want everything done in a specific way
  4. They complain about family members, nothing pleases them & everything you do is wrong
  5. Easily becomes upset at just about anything

Why is this happening?

It may be their nature and they were always this way. It could be a new thing that has happened over time. Usually, they are trying to regain some kind of control over their lives and situation. The loss of personal power and control is awful. It is sometimes scary to have to depend on someone else for your needs.

Have them do everything that they can do, even if it takes longer. Let them make decisions, whenever possible. Ask for their opinion and advice. Everyone wants to feel useful. Don’t force them on to your schedule for the more intimate needs such as bathing. Let them decide on that time. It may only be an inconvenience to you, imagine what it must be to them. Let them keep their dignity and I promise you will have fewer battles. Of course, you may have to set boundaries and that is fine. Put yourself in their shoes to understand where they are coming from and do your best to accommodate them. We all want autonomy and independence.  It may be time to bring in the backup care givers.

As a care giver, you are there to provide them with help with what they cannot do. Your role is not to take over but to become more of an aide or helper. Encourage them to do all the things that they can do, even if it takes longer. Family dynamics will certainly play a role in a care giving and care receiving need. Everyone has a right to feel safe and to be safe.

Routines are good things. Once we have our routine, we no longer have to use excess brain power to figure things out. We just do them. Routines are good for care givers and care receivers. Figure out the best routine (one that is doable for the receiver and the giver) and implement it. Update, when needed. Agreement is the key. The care giver must be more flexible than the care receiver. The more you can fit in to their routines, the less pushback you will have. Remember to enjoy each other. Those are the moments that you will treasure.

Pat

Products Availablehttps://empoweringhealthoptions.com/products-for-you-to-use/

Essential Information Binder

Gene Testing for Medications

Wednesday Wonderings …Rules for “Vivi the Ventor” and “Lindsay the Listener”

December 1, 2021

Right off the bat …

To all of our partners, spouses and friends and families:

  1. Yes, we love you, we want the best for you and we want to help, if possible.
  2. No, we do not know when you are just venting.
  3. No, we do not know when you want suggestions or solutions nor when you don’t.

If you are anything like me, you get in to so much trouble by assuming others are asking for your help, ideas or solutions when really they are just venting and want to be heard. I am not opposed to listening and letting someone be heard, I need to know that is what you want. Have you ever noticed that the same people that want you to “just listen,” are also the same people that get pissed when you don’t offer solutions or help them when they are ranting and raving? It truly is a no-win situation. You get into trouble when you just listen and then you get in to trouble when you offer solutions or suggestions.

Let’s have an agreement for the “Ventor” and the “Ventee” aka the Listener. What will this agreement do? It will get everyone on the same page at the same time. It will improve your communication. Since communifriggin’cation is the key to everything, it might just stop the needless fighting, anger or hurt feelings.

I would suggest that you work on the agreement as soon as possible. Once the talking/venting begins it is too late. Each of you have unique ways that you deal with things. Your friends, partner, spouse, families do not deal with things the same way as you. If you only do one thing …make it clear that you just want to be heard, understood and supported OR you want ideas, help and possible solutions. Come up with two words that you can say and the other person understands. For example, you can say “rant” then the other person will know that you want to vent. If you say “help,” then they know to listen and then help you come up with possible solutions.

What happens if Vivi starts talking and Lindsay has no clue about what to do? Then Lindsay has to listen, understand, and empathize. No Fixing! No offering suggestions! I know that to just listen, understand and empathize is very hard to do. I always want to fix it or find a solution. I am a work in progress, but I am getting better and better at not offering unsolicited advice.

Rule #1 – The person being talked TO is “Lindsay the Listener” and the person doing the talking is “Vivi the Ventor.” Be quiet and listen for understanding, and NOT to reply.

Rule #2 – “Lindsay the Listener” will have to be on their toes ‘cause when “Vivi the Ventor” starts talking, they just start talking. You have no warning and are hardly ever told by Vivi that they “just want to vent.”  As the current “Listener”, you must become the one that takes those two seconds to breathe and think before responding in any way, shape or form. Lest you become the one getting yelled at! If you have not been told if this is a venting session or a brainstorming session, then you must ask nicely.

Rule #3 – “Vivi the Ventor” has a responsibility to tell “Lindsay the Listener” what is going on and what is expected of them. No assuming allowed.

Rule #4 – “Vivi the Ventor” gets to feel however they feel.

Rule #5 – “Vivi the Ventor” and “Lindsay the Listener” both must agree to be respectful towards each other.

Rule #6 – Vivi may need to vent or discuss but Lindsay either cannot handle it at the moment or has something else that needs to be dealt with. Set a time to talk later.

Rule # 7 – Do not interrupt. You may ask for clarification when they are finished with their thoughts. Repeat back to them what you have heard to make sure you understand.

Rule # 8 – Be fully present. Do Not look at your phone or the TV.

Some people are natural born problem solvers and others need some time to figure out what course of action to take. What are the known challenges that are preventing you from moving forward? What are some barriers that arise once you begin moving forward? Identifying challenges and barriers are easy for some people and not so easy for others. We all have different perspectives and life experiences. Different is not bad or wrong, it is just different.

Are you able to listen for understanding or are you waiting for your turn to respond? Are you willing to be uncomfortable when they express their feelings/concerns? It is much easier to rush to problem solving than it is to deal with feelings and emotions that are being caused by the problem. Everyone gets to have their own feelings and everyone deserves to have their feelings validated. You may not agree with their feelings or emotions and that is fine, but they get to have them and feel them. Maybe all the other person needs to hear is “that sucks” or “I am sorry that you are having to deal with that.” Maybe, they just want to know that you have their back no matter what.

Learn what empathetic listening means. Empathy is about listening to the emotions and feelings that the other person is describing. Maybe you could ask, “How do you feel about this?” They probably want to feel supported by you. Understand where they are coming from and what they are feeling about what has happened.

Venting can have a dark side. If you find yourself venting about the same things over and over again then it is time to move on to problem solving. Are you venting for more than 3 minutes? If so, you are probably replaying the same thing over and over again while getting madder and madder. You are letting it become entrenched in your thoughts. That is not doing you any good and it may keep you ruminating about the issues. Ruminating keeps you stuck. If you cannot change anything about the problem then you must change how you view or deal with the problem. Start processing your possible solutions out-loud. Yes, get the thoughts out of your head. What if the same types of situations keep happening? Other than pissing you off, what else is behind it? Be open to the possibility that there is a lesson that you need to learn. Do you need to let it be, just as it is (also known as letting it go)? Let it be. What a novel idea. Be curious. No judgement (it is what it is). Just observe. You really can let your thoughts wonder and not attach any meaning to them. Just go, “huh, wonder what that is about?” and keep on keeping on. Not everything is meant to be figured out. I get it, I drive myself crazy too trying to figure out the meaning behind something. Most of the time, there is no meaning, there is no problem, it is just a thing. Don’t misunderstand, there are problems/issues that do need to be thought about, figured out and a plan of action developed …but, not everything.

If any of these apply to you then stop venting.

  1. You have no intention of changing anything about the situation or the way you react to it
  2. The person you are venting to is dealing with harder or more complicated situations
  3. If you have absolutely nothing positive to say about anything, start working on finding gratitude for 3 things in your life every day.
  4. You deny any personal responsibility for what is happening or how you are reacting

Everyone needs to vent every now and then. It is cathartic and helpful. It can help you to clear your mind so you can begin working on solutions to improve the situation. When we find ourselves venting we probably to need to get those strong emotions off of our chest and deal with that conflict in a healthy manner.  Venting is not complaining. When you find yourself complaining, watch out? Complainers tend to focus on their own dissatisfaction, pain or uneasiness. Complainers only see it from their own point of view. Complainers see themselves as always right and others are wrong. Complainers become energy vampires that zap the listener.

Expressing your feelings is healthy. Complaining focuses on judging someone or something which does not help the complainer nor the listener. Which type of person do you want to be? Will you let others vent to you or is it always a one-way street? Some people take on a false sense of responsibility to fix things or help whenever others dump things on them. It is fine to be a helper, but not to the expense of your own peace of mind. Be wise. You cannot fix everyone or everything. Remember, you cannot make another person happy. Happiness is an inside job for each of us to handle on our own.

Pat

Wednesday Wonderings … When we are faced with ‘No” good choices, how do we decide?

October 27, 2021

Right, Wrong, Good, Bad – those are the words we use to describe our decision-making choices. What makes a decision right or wrong? What makes a decision good or bad? Yeah, I know, it’s like porn. You can’t describe it, but you’ll know it when you see it.

A decision that is right for you may be wrong for me. A decision that is good for me may be bad for you. Hang on, here we go… Your perceptions and life experiences are your guides. Your gut feelings are tied in to past experiences and results. Sure, we all like to think that our decisions are made with great care and a lot of thought. Wait, I need to throw my bullshit flag.

Hear me out before you take your toys and go home. All of us have unknown biases. All of us have tunnel vision on certain issues. All of us hate the idea of even making a “wrong” decision. It is one thing to make a wrong decision for ourselves, but let that decision affect other people that we love and that piles on the stress, pressure and worry. I never want to hurt the ones that I love. I always want to make the best decisions possible. I especially want to make the right decision when it affects those that I love.

How can we make the best decision possible when we don’t recognize our biases? How can we make a good decision when we really don’t know what good resources are? To me a good resource is a trusted resource. A trusted resource often educates. A trusted resource is NOT an advertisement. Use the CRAAP test. See the bottom of the article for a worksheet.

Facts are Facts. You don’t have to like it. Truth on the other hand takes in to consideration you own views, beliefs and ideas about a subject and sometimes you throw facts in the mix. Unknow biases. Question why you believe what you believe. Be skeptical. Can you accept what you have thought or believed most of your life could be wrong? How did that last word “wrong” make you feel? We do not want to be “wrong” ever! Change the word “wrong” to incorrect and see how that makes you feel. Can you accept that your friends and families’ beliefs and opinions may be incorrect? I am able to accept that I am incorrect. I am not inclined to believe that I am wrong. I get defensive if I am “wrong.” I can’t stand to be wrong! That is why I will do my research from trusted sources. I may not like what I have learned, but at least I know the facts and I can then figure out what will work best for me and my loved ones. Find three trusted resources and read the information using the CRAAP test information.

Be open to learning something new. Be curious. Let yourself ponder and think. We try to control the outcomes with our decision-making. Have you heard the phrase, “trust the process?” Why do people tell us that? Because we cannot control the outcome. We can only do our best. Sometimes, it is making a decision with the information that we have, right now. We may need to change our decision or update as we learn new information. That is okay. When we know better, we do better.

What happens we are faced with NO good choices? What do we do? How can we decide?

We make the decision that we will regret the least.

Get rid of the “should.”  Every time that you say or even think the word “should.” Stop and change that word to “Want.” What do I want? How do I want things to go? What do I really want down the road? Take time to think. Think through your options. Brainstorm and don’t dismiss anything, right now. You can pare down later. Are there compromises or alternatives?

  1. What are your values, wants and needs?
  2. Talk it through with a good listener. Tell them you are talking and you just want them to listen.
  3. Maybe you need someone else’s perspective (maybe someone who has been in a similar situation).
  4. Test out the decision in your mind. Go all the way through. Remember, you cannot control the outcome. How will this affect me in the short=term, in the long-run?
  5. Doing something always beats doing nothing.
  6.  Listen to your gut. Your intuition is important.
  7. There is not right or wrong decision, only what is best for you and your family.
  8. When all of the choices suck, which one will you regret the least?

Choice overload will cause you to not make a choice. Paralysis by analysis is a real thing. Too much information will keep you on the indecision wheel. Find 3 choices by doing your research with trusted resources. Realize that decision fatigue happens to all of us. Making tough decisions takes a lot of time and a whole lot of energy. You will second guess yourself. Go with what you know and not how you feel once you have made your decision. Accept that there will probably be trade-offs. Know what your values are. What is important to you.

Very few decisions can’t be changed or updated. Try to find a “both/ and” decision rather than an “either/or” decision.

Sometimes you will have to make a decision that you will regret the least. Be kind to yourself.

Pat

The CRAAP Test Worksheet

Use the following list to help you evaluate sources. Answer the questions as appropriate, and then rank each of the 5 parts from 1 to 10 (1 = unreliable, 10 = excellent). Add up the scores to give you an idea of whether you should you use the resource (and whether your teacher would want you to!).

Currency: the timeliness of the information………………………………………………………………………..

• When was the information published or posted?

• Has the information been revised or updated?

• Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?

• Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs…………………………………………….

• Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?

• Who is the intended audience?

• Is the information at an appropriate level?

• Have you looked at a variety of sources before choosing this one?

• Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information……………………………………………………………………………

• Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?

• Are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations given?

• What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations given?

• What are the author’s qualifications to write on the topic?

• Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?

• Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content…………………………………………

• Where does the information come from?

• Is the information supported by evidence?

• Has the information been reviewed or refereed?

• Can you verify any of the information in another source?

• Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?

• Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists……………………………………………………………

• What is the purpose of the information?

• Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?

• Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?

• Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?

• Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Total:

45 – 50 Excellent | 40 – 44 Good

35 – 39 Average | 30 – 34 Borderline Acceptable

Below 30 – Unacceptable

Created by Juniata College

Wednesday wonderings … What 3 things will help you feel more in control as a stressed-out care giver?

You are running around, feeling like a piece of taffy being pulled in six different directions at one time. Pulled by your job, pulled by your partner, pulled by your kids, pulled by your loved one that needs help, pulled by your own home chores, and pulled by your social obligations.

Many of us have felt that pull, with no end in sight. You are handling one problem after another and they aren’t crises, they are just everyday stuff. The mundane stuff even. The yard needs to be mowed, the car needs an oil change, this kid needs to go here at 6 and the other one needs to be there at 6, you need to make a hair appointment, there is a doctor’s appointment that you need to attend with your loved one and you project at work is coming due.

If you are a control freak, like I am, then you must have a plan and work the plan. There is no room for additions or changes to said plan once the plan has been figured out and ready to be implemented. It does not matter how well you have planned the who, what, where, when and how…something always arises to throw a monkey wrench in the works. Oh hell, now what am I going to do?

First, you have to determine where and when this monkey wrench will have to go in the plan. Is there a place or a workaround? If yes, then we are still good to go. But what if the monkey wrench blows up the plan? We scramble. What can we drop or pass off to someone else? What can we change or delay? All of these thoughts are running through your mind and you are running through the scenarios with the possible outcomes. You are also pissed that your plan is being messed with. You get madder and more frustrated by the minute.

What else is running through your mind? Be honest. If my brother would just help out more (or even a little), things would be so much easier. If my sister was not such a drama queen, we could work together and things would be so much easier. Why am I the only one taking care of this and making sure it gets done? I have a big project that I am working on and I do not have time for all this extra work and stress. Dinner? What do you mean, what is for dinner? Pizza Hut delivers, that is what is for dinner. Hey, where is my uniform? Did you wash it? The dog peed on the floor. Can you help me with…? All of these thoughts are running through your mind. You don’t realize that your mind is going 90 miles an hour. Why would you, your thoughts have always run through your mind. But now, now it is different. They are more than just thoughts. A lot more. They have become situations. Situations that have consequences and must be dealt with.

What makes the thoughts different? You have more responsibility. You know that you will have situations arising that will require you to make choices that have a real impact on someone else’s life. It is not easy to explain this to others that have not experienced it. Even if you did explain it, they still would not understand it. For other’s that have experienced it and gone through it, no explanation is necessary. They get it. It is true all relationships are different, wants, needs, and feelings are different. No one will ever know how you truly feel or what you are going through personally. They can’t, they are not in your head, they have not had the experiences that you have had. They can empathize and they may even tell you that they know how you feel. Most of the time what they really mean is, “I know what I went through and I know what you are going through.” They mean well and they are truly trying to help. Our own relationships and our own experiences shape us in to what we are today. I can only look at things from my perspective when I was dealing with my mom and Multiple Sclerosis and my dad as primary care giver. I can only see things that we went through individually and as a family. I cannot imagine not loving your mom and wanting to help in any way that you can. I cannot imagine not being able to speak my mind and disagreeing with my mom or dad and that being okay. Other folks cannot do that, they are not allowed to express their opinion.

I did work with a family that did not really care about their mom. They were in two other states and their mom was in a third state. At first, you think that they do care what happens to their mom, but the more you talk and ask questions the more you find out that they want their mom taken care of, up to a point. That family did not want to be bothered with coming in to see her or to do what was best for their mom. They did not want her needs to impact what they wanted to do in any way, shape or form. I did my job and made the recommendations for their mom and did what I could at the facility she was in (she had great caregivers at the assisted living facility) to provide the mom with the best quality of life possible. I decided that I would never work with a family that did not love or care about their family. If you love them and want the best for them, then we can work together. Does that mean you have to be the “hands-on” caregiver? No, not at all. It only means that you love this person and want them to have the best quality of life possible for them. I am not a hands-on care giver; it is not in my wheelhouse. I am not good at it. I am good at managing and deciding on the care that you need and want. I am much better at visiting, talking with them, going out to eat and being with them than I am providing the hands-on care of bathing, dressing, and all of the other activities of daily living.

We do chase a rabbit or two, don’t we?

What are the three things that would make your life easier when you are a care giver?

  1. Adaptability
  2. Flexibility
  3. Good information

adaptability

uh-dap-tuhbil-i-tee ]


the ability to adjust to different conditions or circumstances https://www.dictionary.com/browse/adaptability

Are you able to adjust to different conditions or circumstances? Think back to the monkey wrench being thrown in to your plans. Ho do you react when things do not go according to your own plan? How do you respond? What goes through your mind? 

Do you have a sinking feeling? A woe is me, awful feeling? Your plans have unraveled. How could this happen? Everything was set up and planned.  Do you try to regain some type of control over the situation? Try to find a way to fix it? I know that I do. I try to fix it, for I must be in control. Look at all the negatives that this monkey wrench has caused. That son-of-a-bitch! (That is my favorite curse word phrase.)  How long does it take you to stop looking at the problems that monkey wrench has caused?  Fifteen to twenty minutes or much longer? Some folks get stuck and fixate on the negative consequences the monkey wrench caused for days. Do you have the luxury or time to be focused on the imploded plan or would you be better served by working on a solution? Asking “Why?” will always keep you stuck. Ask “How do we move forward?”, will get you unstuck.

Recognize that some things are beyond your control. I know that this is hard. I also know that when I stop railing about what happened or what went wrong, I am able to figure out a solution and maybe even a newer much better plan You don’t have to like it. You cannot exert your will over something that you have no control over. Look up the definition of insanity.

Get a grip and look at the overall picture. Is everyone still alive? Then, all is well. All will be well. Take a few deep breaths and tell your thoughts to shut up. You have work to do and your pity party is stifling your ideas.

What is the next opportunity? Okay, this got all screwed up and maybe you feel defeated. Your feelings can and will lie to you. Thoughts are just thoughts until you attach some kind of meaning to them. You do not have to act on thoughts or feelings. Take a few minutes and let your fight, flight, freeze or fawn settle down. Well, it will actually take about 30 minutes for it to really settle down.

Plan implosions or detours can sometimes work out better than what we had originally planned. If you are optimistic and at peace you know that things will work out. You don’t always have to know the how. Sometimes you have to trust the process. At all times you have to trust God to provide you a peace beyond all understanding.

Practice adaptability. It is not natural and it will take effort, but once you learn it you will be less stressed and more in control of your own reactions and responses.

flexibility

[ flek-suhbil-i-tee ]

the ability to bend easily or without breaking:

the quality of being easily adapted or of offering many different options:

the ability and willingness to adjust one’s thinking or behavior:

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/flexibility

Have you heard the phrase, “Be like a willow, bend but don’t break.”?  You may feel like you are dealing with so much stuff that you are about to break and those types of platitudes may actually cause you to break. You don’t have to break. You will, if you do not make some changes in your life. You see the three definitions above. Are you willing to make some changes in your own thinking and behaviors? Are you willing to take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally so that you can be a productive, able-bodied caregiver? Or are you going to stay as you are and be completely miserable?  Being a care giver does not have to be awful. Being a care giver does not have to wreck your life. Being a care giver can be a blessing. It is not easy, but it may be worth it. Most of the time you cannot change the situation, but you can change your attitude.

Manage your stress. Do not suppress your anger, rage or resentment. Deal with those types of feelings in a healthy way. You always have choices. You will feel distressed. You will always wonder if you are making the right decisions. Try accepting the situation as it is. Just because we accept the situation as it is, right now, does not mean that we don’t seek solutions and better ways of doing things. I will never give up on a person. I will always do my best to find doable and workable solutions for them to have the best quality of life possible as well as the whole family. Along with accepting things as they are, what can you be grateful for? It is hard to train our minds to find the positive things or things we can be grateful for. Our minds automatically go to the worst-case scenario or to the “problems.” Pay attention to what your thoughts are at certain times of the day or when you have a headache starting or a lower back pain issue. Do you find yourself thinking about all the “bad things” that may happen or all the ways things can go wrong? Have you noticed that the worst things rarely happen?

What makes you desperate? Pain? Uncertainty? Pressure to make a decision? Inability to find good information? Not having a strategy? Unable to evaluate the plan effectively and make necessary changes?

Good information

We all suffer from information overload. TMI. What is good information? How do we know it is good information? Is it relevant to our situation?

You can find most anything online. How do you qualify it as good information? How do you find reliable sources? Public libraries have good databases that you can use. A reference librarian is of enormous help.

Use the CRAAP test.

Currency –      When was the information written or posted?

                        Has the information been revised or updated?

                        Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?

                        Do the links work?

Relevance –     Does the information relate to your topic or answer your questions?

                        Who is the intended audience?

                        Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the one you

                        will use?

Authority –      Who is the author, publisher, sponsor or source of the information?

                        Are the author’s credentials listed?

                        Are the credentials legitimate?

                        Is the organization legitimate?

                        Can their qualifications be verified?

                        Is there contact information available?

Accuracy –       Where does the information come from?

                        Is the information supported by evidence?

                        Has the information been reviewed?

                        Can you verify the information in another source or from personal knowledge?

                        Does the language or tone of the article seem biased or emotional?

Purpose –         What is the purpose of the information? To inform? To sell? To teach? To

                        entertain? To persuade?

                        Do the authors or sponsors make their purpose and intentions clear?

                        Is the information fact, opinion, propaganda?

                        Does the point of view appear to be impartial and objective?

                        Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

So, you see…” They said and I heard” are the two biggest liars in the world.

Pat

Wednesday wonderings…When is it time to deal with stuff and when is it time to ignore stuff?

September 8,2021

When to deal with it. When to ignore it. When to fight about it. When to take a break.

You have seen the t-shirts or maybe you have even said something like this …

It’s all fun and games until…Someone loses a weiner. (Feel free to add your own line.)

                                               Someone calls HR.

                                               Someone loses a nut.

Being with and dealing with someone who has a chronic illness such as depression, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or migraines is all fun and games…at first. At first it is easy to do your work job, your house stuff, your play time, school stuff, church stuff, and all kinds of other “stuff.”

Eventually, more is needed of you. Your time, your efforts, your energy. Suck-it-up-buttercup works for a while. Then the demands on your time become draining. Do you take a time out and rest? Do you take a couple of days to recharge? No. You keep doing what you need to do. What you have to do. I get it. You want to be there for them and help them. You do love them and want the best for them. But…

Eventually, there is always a “But…”

Take three minutes and assess where you are in the care giving cycle, what is going on with your work, your family, your responsibilities, your care receiver, your physical needs, your mental needs, your emotional needs?

If you haven’t found your “but,” then either you are new to this or you won’t let yourself think about it. You can compartmentalize and stuff things down, for a while too. You put your job in one box. You put your personal stuff in another box. Another box has your care giver duties in it. Everything has their own nice little box and never are the boxes to leak or burst open and mix with the other boxes. Sure, you have everything under control, until you don’t Shit happens and at the most inopportune time. No matter how secure your box is, there will come a time when you will have to deal with all of it. How do I know? I have done it myself. I pushed things down. Ignored things and people. Yelled at work. Ranted and reaved at home. For minor things. Silly, little things. I didn’t know, at the time, that my boxes were leaking. I didn’t realize that I was very short tempered. I didn’t realize the damage I was doing to my techs who worked with me. I didn’t realize that my boys were becoming scared of me. Imagine how it feels when you do realize all of those things and more. The apologies you have to make. The rebuilding of trust and security for the boys. The knowledge that nothing will ever be the same. Even with forgiveness, no one forgets. I did do better, when I knew better. I wasn’t taking care of my needs. I had to put myself in the mix to rest and recharge to be able to help my dad who was the primary caregiver to my mom.

Should you always deal with a situation when it arises? My personal preference is, yes, deal with it now. If it were only that simple. If it only involved me, it would be simple. It does not just involve me. It involves three other people. Dammit. Now we have to discuss it, think about it, discuss it some more and then there is always someone with an objection.  How about if we, identify the situation as best we can from our own points of view and agree to discuss it at an agreed upon date and time. Did you know that everyone has their own unique point of view? Did you know that a care receiver and a care giver have totally different views at times?  Most folks have no idea what the care receiver wants or needs, they just assume according to their own wants and needs. If you are going to help someone else it is probably a good idea to talk with them to find out the who, what, where, when and why’s of things.

What if we could get away from right or wrong? What if we could be open to the possibility of many different ideas, ways or opportunities? If I can realize that it is not always my way or the highway, then you can too. Give each other the time and good information when there is a major decision to be made.

Some things you do need to ignore. Some things do not need to be handled right now. The things that will not matter in a month, you ignore. The things that will not matter in a year or two, you ignore. The minor household chores that can be delayed, ignore them until another time when you are better equipped to make a decision. Decision fatigue is a real thing. It takes a lot of energy to think and make decisions that are new to you. I know this sounds like management by crises, but it isn’t. You get to choose. Make the best choice possible with the information that you have, right now. It is a gift to be able to make a decision before a crisis hits. A plan of action to implement, when needed, is a lifeline.  Usually, the things to ignore are behavior issues. You may be dealing with an angry aging parent. They may have outbursts. Abusive behavior you cannot ignore. You must take care of yourself. They may refuse to bathe or change their clothes. Ok, so ignore it for a day or two. If they are not in harms way, sometimes you have to let them be. Your family knows your buttons and they know how to push them and they will push them. Can you ignore the button pushing? Can you, let it go? If you can, you will be much happier and much more in control. If you can’t ignore your buttons being pushed, you will get stuck, become even more frustrated and stressed out.

What about fighting? I am not talking about physical fighting, I am talking about arguing, which is fighting in my world.  This one can be tricky. Some families cannot handle fighting in any way, shape or form. They would sooner give up everything than to fight. Other families can have a frank discussion with fighting, work it out and move on with no hard feelings. Others can fuss and fight and have hard feelings for many months, even forever at times.

I wonder what is causing the fighting? Feeling unheard or ignored is a big trigger. Listen to each other first. Use a talking stick. You know, the one holding the stick gets to talk and then when they are finished, they pass it on to another person. STOP figuring out how you will respond. If you are figuring out how to respond, you are not listening. Listen for understanding. Sometimes people may say the wrong words, listen for the understanding and feelings behind the words. You do not have to agree but you do have to agree to disagree. Are you open to the possibility that the choices you must make are for right now? That in a week or two you may make different choices. Sometimes there are no good choices. There are only the choices that you will regret the least making. I wish that I could tell you that all your choices will be logical, but that is not realistic. Are we fighting because we are afraid of making a mistake or a bad choice? Guess what? You will make mistakes. You will make a bad choice. They can be rectified, almost all of the time. When you make a bad choice, do what athletes do, pat your chest twice with your hand and say “my bad.” Then move forward. Stop beating yourself up. Did you do the best that you could with the information you had at the time? If yes, move on.

Instead of fighting what if we worked on one issue at a time and not the lifetime of issues? I understand that some folks cannot find common ground. In that case, place the needs of the care receiver and the hands-on caregiver at the top of the list. You may find that a dictatorship is the best way to proceed.

I am amazed at the folks that do not talk to a relative because of an issue with hurt feelings. I have seen it in my extended family but not my core family. We could always express our opinion, discuss, fuss, fight or whatever we needed to do without fear of being cut out of each other’s lives. You do have to work within the parameters of your family dynamics. We could chase many rabbits on this topic.

When to take a break? Before you are drained would be ideal. You will need physical breaks and mental breaks. There will be times that you are too overwhelmed to make a decision. Too tired or you do not have enough good information to make a decision yet. Take that time out. Agree to take a break if a discussion becomes too intense. Come back in a couple of days or another week. Maybe you are at an impasse. Who will be the ultimate decider?

Chronic stress can kill you. Take a break to rest and recharge.

Key signs you need a break include:

  • Changes in eating habits
  • Cynicism about work
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Getting sick more frequently
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low mood
  • Frustration
  • Feeling unfocused or fuzzy-headed
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches
  • Poor performance at work
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope with stress
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, or co-workers

What days or times will you be taking time off? Write it down on the calendar. Yes, write it down. What gets written down, gets done. Realize that you will feel uncomfortable doing this. It is okay to feel some discomfort. Do not let that discomfort derail you from much needed time off or time away. You will come back stronger and more able to deal with any issue that may arise. Even an elite athlete needs days off.

Pat