Category: #parkinsons

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

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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

How can I tell people what I need? (Hint, you cannot be subtle nor can you use telepathy.)

November 17, 2021

It would be so much easier if other people just knew what you needed and wanted and did it! No one can read your mind. No one can really understand what you are going through. Even if they have helped take care of a loved one of their own, their needs may have been completely different from your needs.

Communi-friggin’-cation! It is the key to everything. That is my own word for communication. Did you know that other folks communicate totally different from you, well, maybe it is the understanding that is different? You know what you need, inside of your head, but how do you communicate that need so that others will understand?

Are you one that thinks …
Well, if they knew me…they would know what I need?

I have told them how tired I am and I need a break.

Well, if they could help me, I guess they would.

I talk about how hard it is, all the time. It has taken over my whole life.

No, I’m good, I can just handle it all.

Hey, I need you to be here on Saturday the 8th from 9 am until 6pm.

I need you to do the laundry, change the sheet and provide dinner on Sunday.

How many different styles of communication are there? Four major ones. Body language is another style, but that is for another day. We are talking about being verbal and asking for what you need or want. Wants are okay to ask for too.

Passive

Passive communicators go with the flow and are sometimes seen as wallflowers. No muss, no fuss. Sometimes they may be unaware of their thoughts or feelings, but more than likely they ignore their own feelings, wants and even their thoughts. They may seem to be easygoing, but underneath anxiety rules. They fear disapproval.

Passive communicators bottle things up. They hardly ever fight and usually cede everything. They stuff and they stuff their feelings and wants. You can stuff things for so long, but they will eventually bubble to the surface. Resentment, here I come!

Aggressive

Aggressive communicators dominate the conversations and state their opinions often overriding others’ opinions. They use direct eye contact, leaning forward, staring at you and moving towards you sometimes.  They are very poor listeners and use a harsh tone, even if they don’t mean to be using a harsh tone.

Aggressive communicators are not quiet and yes, they are the ones that yell. They almost never back down. Your feelings will not be considered. Think more of a “win” type personality and not the “win-win” type.

Passive-Aggressive

A passive-aggressive communicator will confuse the hell out of you. Why? Because they cannot get all of their thoughts, and meanings outside of their heads in a cohesive manner or in a way that makes sense to others. They may be easily frustrated. They can become quite irritable and resentful. They will use sarcasm, talk to another person instead of the person that they need to be talking to. They will criticize others. I don’t get this one, but I have seen it happen. They show oppositional behavior. They will be the one that states, “I will help.” They will help and they will Complain the Whole Time. These folks are angry and their words do not match their body language. Gritting their teeth, making their hands into a fist all the while either being indifferent or smiling.

Passive-aggressive communicators are angry and they know that they are angry, but will deny that they are angry or that anything is wrong. Sarcastic barbs coming your way or maybe you will get the silent treatment.

They silently seethe and the other person has no idea what in the world is wrong.

Assertive

An assertive communicator is confident. They are open to discussions and clarifying whatever may be unclear or confusing without being an ass. They are usually calm and will state what they want or need without imposing their requests on others. This type will look for a consensus, if possible. They usually listen and seem to care about others. You may have healthy and loud discussions but it does not feel like you are having an argument. They will share their thoughts, opinions and how they feel about something. They are open to you doing the same. Not only are they able to listen, they are able to hear.

What communication style to you have? What communication style do others in your life have? Can you see how things get all messed up when everyone is talking and no one is listening or hearing?

We have all heard it before, seek to understand first. Understand where the other person is coming from, try to put yourself in their shoes. You may not be able to fully, but try as best you can. We all have our own peculiar ways. We are different people with different experiences and we look at things differently. It isn’t wrong, it is just different. Search for common ground. What can you agree on? What is best for the care receiver? What is best for all involved as care givers? Each of us have strengths and each of us have things we don’t do very well.

Let your empathy and compassion for others help you in moving towards being an assertive communicator. A good sense of humor helps too.

What strengths help you become a better caregiver?

  1. Resilience – The ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions; I can negotiate for what I need and navigate systems.
  2. Patience – The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
  3. Flexibility – Ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances; accept what is happening in the moment.
  4. Compassion – The ability to translate empathic feelings into action (desire to alleviate suffering).
  5. Optimism – Expect a favorable or positive outcome.
  6. Confidence – Sure of one’s self and one’s abilities.
  7. Organization – Methodical and efficient in arrangement or function.
  8. Ability to Laugh – To easily see and appreciate the humor in the situation.

Use these to rate yourself on the above strengths:

1 – Always

2 – Sometimes

3 – Hardly ever or Never

Be honest and help yourself to know what you are good at and what you are not so good at… Hopefully, you will find that others have different strengths than you and will be a good helper.

To identify and acknowledge your personal caregiver strengths, set aside a few minutes for personal reflection. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What gives me energy?
  • What am I good at? What do I do best? What do I do well?
  • What am I naturally good at? What comes naturally to me?
  • What are my best character traits?
  • What things do I look forward to doing?
  • When faced with challenges or adversity, what strengths do I bring to these challenges?
  • What do I handle well?

When you ask for things, be specific. Have a list at the ready. You may need things done at your house instead of at the care receiver’s house. Be as flexible as you can. You must agree to a day and time or it will not get done. Never a “whenever” or a “sometime next week.” Pick a day and time, negotiate for another day and time, if necessary. Keep a running list of things that need to be handled. Heck, place it on the refrigerator for folks to sign-up.

Headings for the list include: What action or Task, Where (care receiver’s house or care giver’s house), What day, Alternate day, Who will handle this

You will have to be direct. Not an ass, but state what your Mom/Dad and/or you need their help. Are you willing to step-up, pitch-in and help? If they say yes, then pull out the ready-made list and get to work. If it is a task that takes time and they do not have time, then by all means suggest a less time-consuming task or request a specific amount of money (be fair and reasonable) to hire out the task. If that doesn’t work then ask them what they can contribute and shut your mouth until they begin figuring out things, Yes, it will be uncomfortable, but just be still and quiet. Be open to brainstorming sessions. Try to make your “ask” into statements. For example, instead of saying, “Can you do some things for me?” state that “I need XYZ from the store today.” “I need you to provide dinner on Friday.”

What if you ask and get told “no” to your direct request? You may even get brushed off or told off, where do you go from there? You still need back-up and help. It is going to suck, but you will move forward as if you are an only child. You may need to hire outside help, ideally with the care receiver’s money.

I have seen a family of 4 siblings work it out to care for their aging parents at separate times.  They all stepped up and did whatever was needed. They were all professionals and very busy with their careers, but they made their parents the priority. They communicated, worked together, had a list and each of them used their strengths to the fullest. Their parents we never alone.

I have also seen a family with 3 siblings leave it all to one sister. No help, no money, just bitching and “trying” to run things. It was horrible. That one sister realized she would have to handle her mom on her own. She did and her mom was well cared for. It did take some of the sisters’ own money, to help with outside care, but they managed and she had a good experience with her mom for the time her mom had left. She also told me that she had no regrets and that her conscious was clear. She is civil to her siblings, but not really much of a relationship with them now. Of course, it wasn’t much of a relationship before either. 

Maybe you will have to say your piece to those that will not contribute in order to let go of your anger or resentment at them. Do let go of your anger, you don’t have the time or energy for it.

There may come a time when you have to say “No” to caregiving.

You may find that you must set limits on caregiving responsibilities. You are exhausted, overwhelmed and your own health is suffering. It most often happens to those that do not take care of themselves during the care giving process. You do count. You do matter. Add your needs in to the mix.

What does saying “no” mean to you? Could it mean that you leave the loved one to fend for himself?

 Maybe it means that you are tired, isolated and depressed and you have to stop, possibly “no” means that you need to take a breather and you realize that some things will have to change if you are going to proceed and help as a care giver. Boundaries is not a dirty word. Emotional limits are reached quickly when either a crisis happens or you have taken no breaks.

Practice your “I” statements to work on your boundaries.

  • “I can no longer drive you to all of your medical appointments due to my work schedule and my limited time off. I know this will be a change for you. I suggest we look into other transportation options such as the Busy Bee Medical Transport Service.”
  • “Mother, I am unable to continue with the responsibility of cleaning the house weekly. I want to spend my time with you on other matters. I know it’s hard to let newcomers help, but I think it is time to hire a homemaker service you would be comfortable with.”
  • “Dad, I can no longer assist you down the outside stairs. I am worried about your safety and mine. I believe we need to build a ramp for easier access to your home. I have found a carpenter who has reasonable rates for construction.”

In each of the above statements, there is a presentation of what the speaker cannot continue to do, an acknowledgement that the change will have a consequence for the elder and a suggested solution. No attempt is made to make the elder feel guilty about the effort the caregiver is expending or the caregiver’s stress level. It is understood the elder knows the caregiver is working hard.

Setting the boundary is the caregiver’s responsibility. Deborah Colgan, MA, M.Ed., NCC

You can state what you need. You can be direct. You can set boundaries.

Pat

Wednesday Wonderings … Oopsie! That did not work, now what?

November 10, 2021

You worked and you thought and you worked some more. By golly, you have a plan. It is a good plan. You are so proud (and relieved).  Now, it is time to work the plan. I mean you are so excited and you just know that this is the right plan and the “right way” to do this thing. Granted, it was all in your head of how it would all play out, but still, it worked.

Then reality set in. A few fits and starts at the beginning, but you were still on your way. And then, out of nowhere whoa, the brakes get slammed on … hard. What the hell? Why all this resistance? Why is this not working? Why the melt downs? All of these things are running through your mind. You are replaying what happened. You are confused. This should have worked. I saw it work in my mind. We Are Trying This Again!

You do and the brakes get slammed on again. Hmmm, are you ready to look at what did not work? Are you ready to ask others why this did not work or are you still the Lone Ranger?  Are you ready to accept that it might not have been a good plan? If you aren’t, then look up the definition of insanity, you know, the one that states that you keep doing the same things over and over again, in the same way and you expect different results, 

This scenario plays over and over again in all of our lives. At work, at home and with loved ones that we are helping. Think back to your own experiences at work when you had the most brilliant idea for a way to handle an issue. I mean it was win-win for everyone. You had everything in place and began implementing the plan. It was okay and there were a few folks that balked, but you were determined to push on. Soon, the plan was not working as you had envisioned and the situation became more unstable and somehow it was not a win-win for everyone. Dang it! What happened? Maybe, you did not have buy-in from the start from the others that were going to be impacted by the plan. Maybe, the plan was not fleshed out enough for consistent implementation? Maybe, you had one or two people that did not like the plan because they were not consulted on something that would impact them? What do you do? Do you scrap the plan and start over? Do you look at what worked well and make adjustments on what did not work well? Do you bulldoze over others objections? Do you seek input from others who will be impacted with the plan?

What a pickle! Can you see how these things happen in caregiving or helping others? I can. I have a plan and I think it is the greatest plan to help all involved. But, I did not even talk to all involved to see what they thought about the plan. I only thought about what I thought would work the best. My own perspectives, my own wants and my own…everything. I did not realize that at the time, I just thought that I knew best. I did not know best. How can I make a plan for others and not include their wants, needs or ideas?

I felt that if I was handling things, then I get to decide everything. That did not work at all. You talk about stress, strife, fighting, anger, even a lack of trust. I only thought that I knew best. I didn’t know jack. I had to realize that we needed to work together to make a plan that would work for all of us. All Of Us! Not just the care receiver, but the care giver, too. It was not easy to realize that I did not have all of the answers. I had the knowledge and I had the contacts, but I did not have my mom or dad’s perspective. Don’t make the same mistakes that I made. It was much easier than I had anticipated. It was so much easier once I knew what they needed and wanted help with. It was so much easier to work around my schedule when I shared my schedule with them. I am all about less stress and more effective ways of doing things. I am a life long learner and I like learn new things. One of the new things that I learned is that it is okay to be a recovering perfectionist. I learned that progress beats perfection every time. So much less stress too. Perfection keeps us stuck. We don’t have time to feel or be stuck.

What if you could provide better care AND get your life back? Sometimes, you can do it on your own and sometimes you will need my services.

When making a plan involve all the people that will be affected by the plan. (There may come a time in a dementia patient that they can no longer participate, but while they can, let them participate.)

  1. List the issue
  2. List who may be impacted by this issue
  3. Does this issue need to be done/handled at a certain time?
  4. Who can best handle this issue?
  5. If this does not work, what can be tried next?
  6. Brainstorm – write everything down (pare down later)
  7. Reevaluate and update, if needed
  8. Be flexible
  9. Come to a consensus or an agreement
  10. Implement the plan

The above tips will help to keep you on track. If you are a person that goes to worst case scenarios then you must act as if the worst has happened and make a plan for what you will do, you have to move past the worst-case scenario into what you will do next.

Remember, you only have so much brain energy to use on difficult situations every day. It is about two and a half hours. If it is important enough to make a plan then it is important enough to be at your best when your make the plan. Sleep, eat, and hydrate.

One thing that I want you to realize is that there will be important and urgent things and there will be not important and not urgent things. Don’t let yourself waste your time, efforts and energy on the things that are not important and nor urgent.

Handle only three things at a time, that is all you will be able to handle well anyway.

Pat

Wednesday Wonderings … How can I know if my medications are working?

November 3, 2021

Have you ever wondered if the medications that you are taking or someone that you love is taking are helping you, hurting you or even working at all? Have you ever wondered if you are having an unexpected reaction or side effect to your meds?

What is pharmacogenomics?

Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. This relatively new field combines pharmacology (the science of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions) to develop effective, safe medications and doses that will be tailored to a person’s genetic makeup.

This definition is from the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Basically, your genes affect how and if certain medications are metabolized in your body. And why is that important? Because you need a medication to be therapeutic (to do its job well). Some drugs, called prodrugs, are inactive when administered (taken) and then they are metabolized into the active form to provide benefits. What happens if you cannot metabolize that medication into its active form? It will be like taking water. It won’t do anything because your body cannot change it into its active form. What if you take a medication and your body rapidly metabolizes it too quickly? You will not get the benefits of an Effective therapeutic dose. You are burning through it too quickly. What happens if you metabolize the medication very slowly? It can build up inside your body and cause more and more problems along with more intense side effects. Most medications are metabolized in the liver and excreted through the kidneys.

Metabolism, liver, kidneys, liver enzymes, excretion rates, inactive and active metabolites, metabolism rates, phases of metabolism, blood flow, changes in liver volume, etc. all of these things come in to play. What I want you to know is that you can find out how you metabolize certain medications and you and your doctor can decide what medications are best for you and your particular needs. You can also find out if you need more or less of a certain medication. Do the test once and use the information the rest of your life.

What are some of the benefits to having this test?

Helps your doctor find the medications that may work best for you

Helps you to know which medications to avoid

Helps you to know which medications dosage may need to be increased or decreased

Severe drug reactions can be reduced or eliminated

Stops the trial-and-error method that usually takes months to see if it helps or not

May help decrease opioid dependency

May increase pain relief

Bothersome side effects may be decreased or avoided

Do it once and use the information the rest of your life

Who can truly benefit from this test?

If you have been diagnosed with:

Depression

Anxiety disorders

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Dementia

Autism

Insomnia

ADHD

Schizophrenia

Pain

Lipid disorders (high cholesterol)

Alzheimer’s disease

Parkinson’s disease

Multiple Sclerosis

Breast cancer

Epilepsy

Cardiovascular disease

Asthma

HIV/AIDS

Autoimmune disorders

Check-out the Medications that are impacted by your genes.

To see the medications list, go to WWW.EmpoweringHealthOptions.com

Click on the Products tab

Go about midway down the page and click on the blue bar that has the RightMed® Medication List

**Remember, some physicians prescribe medications for off-label use, which means they are using it for something other than what the medication is approved to treat. **

My own experience with pain medications has led me to encourage others to take this test. I had arthroscopic shoulder surgery in the early 1990’s. They sent me home with Percocet® (Oxycodone and acetaminophen) and Phenergan® (promethazine). I get home, ice and take my medications. I am out like a light in about 45 minutes. Now, I had never had any type of pain medications before and I don’t remember having any anti-nausea medications as an adult. After two hours, I am apparently whining in my sleep. I am awakened and I am hurting, but I am so sleepy. The promethazine is kicking my ass and I cannot wake up. The pain is fairly intense. Over the next 24 hours I am taking my pain medications as directed and only taking half of the promethazine. I do believe that the only thing that was helping me was being knocked out by the promethazine. I called my doctor and told him that the Percocet® was not working. He told me that was the strongest that they have. I know that’s a lie, I am a pharmacist. I understand that doctors are concerned about drug seekers, but hell, I just had surgery the previous day. He called in Tylenol#3 (acetaminophen and codeine). I took that and guess what? It did not work either. I knew that I was screwed and would have to deal with this on my own. I iced, I breathed deeply and I took a half a tab of promethazine every 8 hours and Ibuprofen 800mg every four hours. I am thinking that I never ever want another surgery in my lifetime! After about 5 days, I could stand it. Then came physical therapy. You do what you have to do. I cannot imagine what I would have gone through if I had anything other than an arthroscopic surgery.

As a pharmacist I knew that not every medication worked for every person. We all knew that; we just did not know why. We knew it had to be something inside our body make-up, but what? We knew that when Ultram® (tramadol) came out that it worked for some people and it did not work for others. I believed people when they told me that certain medications were not working for them, and I would have them ask their doctor to try X, Y, or Z. Just because something is “supposed” to work does not mean that it does work for all people.

Funny how when we don’t really have the answers, that we tend Not to believe it could be happening. We doubt the person and not the medication. Well, no more! Now we know that some medications are impacted by our genes. I now know that I cannot metabolize Percocet®. My body cannot metabolize Tylenol#3® nor can it metabolize tramadol. They are pro-drugs which means they need to be converted into the active form inside the body in order to work. So, I was taking sugar pills for my body. I have a genetic “defect” for CYP-2D6. But, by God, I now know what will work for me and the dosage that I will need. I have the tests to prove it for all the skeptical physician’s worried about drug seekers. My primary care physician has a copy of it in my records and now I tell them to call him for the results, if they want.

So, if you are going to have a planned surgery and you don’t know what pain meds work for you, it might be worth it to have this test. I know that it is expensive and it is going up after the first of the year (in 2022).  Only you can decide what is of value to you. It was valuable information for me and I can use it the rest of my life. No more waiting and hoping. No more wondering for months on end. No more wasting money and time. 

Have you been diagnosed with depression? Have you been started on a medication? What did your doctor and pharmacist tell you? Hopefully, they told you to take it at the same time each day, do not miss doses and give it 3 months. You do. It doesn’t seem to have helped very much, maybe a little. You return to your doctor and he or she takes you off of that medication and you begin again with another medication for 3 months. Nope, this one is not helping and you are now dealing with sexual arousal dysfunction. You return a third time, maybe or you stop going back and just suffer. You are 6 months down the road with no real results to speak of. Six months of your life that you will never get back. You tell me, what is that worth to you and your family?

Are you a chronic pain patient that want the best quality of life possible? Let’s find the medications that will work for you and not wipe you out. Let’s find the right combination to help you to get back to living. I know that you will not be pain free, but you have every right to expect it to be manageable.

Everyone deserves the best quality of life possible for them.

Do it now, before the price goes up in January 2022.

Most HSA’s and Flexible Spending plans allow coverage for this in-home test.

Pat

The 5 different types of metabolizer status are described below.

  • A person who is a “Poor Metabolizer” for a medicine will process that medicine very slowly. The medicine might not work if it is processed slowly, or it could put them at risk for side-effects.
  • A person who is an “Intermediate Metabolizer” for a medicine will process that drug slowly, but not as slowly as a poor metabolizer. This means that the normal amount (or dosage) of certain medicines may not work for them, or may cause side-effects.
  • “Normal Metabolizer” for a medicine usually benefits from the normal amount (or dosage) of the medicine. This means the metabolizer status does not put them at increased risk for side-effects.
  • A person who is a “Rapid Metabolizer” or “Ultrarapid Metabolizer” for a medicine can process the medicine very quickly. A medicine might not work if it is processed very quickly, or it could put the person at risk for side-effects.

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 … How to rest, relax and recharge without taking a break?

October 20, 2021

It started out as a few hours a week. An afternoon here. An evening there. A Saturday or two. You handled whatever arose. No big deal. You love them and it was manageable. It happened so slowly that you did not even realize that you became a caregiver. You were helping out. Funny how when we are in the big middle of stuff that we do not realize how long it has been nor do we have any idea how we got “here.”

“Here.” Hmmm, where is your “here?” Think about it for a few minutes. How long ago did it start? What did your life look like then? What does your life look like now? How many different things are you juggling? Partner, spouse, kids, work, career, friends, community activities, church functions, or even your own health care needs? How many things and people have you neglected?

Are you a caregiver that feels you must always be on call? Are you a person that feels you must always be reachable or be close, just-in-case? It isn’t just caregivers that feel that way. I have found that if you are or feel you are responsible for someone or something you think that you “need” to be available and ready at all times. You must be Superwoman. You must be Superman.

When you feel that way and act that way you have no freedom. You have no down time. You have no “me time.” You probably don’t have much family time either. It sucks. You want to rest, relax and recharge. You want to turn off your brain and just chill. You don’t want to be tied to your cellphone. You want to go out to eat with your family. You want to enjoy sporting events, plays and church. You want to enjoy those around you. But, how can you do all of that? How can you do that and be “on call?”

You can handle most anything, for a while. It is the continued drain on your time and energy that will wear you out. Have you figured out how to rest, relax and recharge without taking a break, yet?

You cannot rest, relax and recharge without taking a break. A mental break and a physical break are required. You will feel guilty. Accept that you will feel guilty. Don’t ask for permission from the person you are caring for. Take a break BEFORE you are so worn out that it takes you a week to recover. Even four to six hours once or twice a week is better than nothing. It would be best if you could take one or two days off every week.

Can other family members help? They probably will if you tell them a day and time. Do not leave it up to them to decide a day and time because they won’t. It is not mean or ugly to have a day or time picked out. If they truly cannot, go on to the next person. Keep going. For some, it may be easier to have a set time or day every week. You may have to hire outside help. I get it, it isn’t cheap. What is your physical and mental health worth? You can always check-in on the care giver/companion.

If your loved one has a dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease you may have to be subtle with adding in-home help. You may need to use other words and phrases. Do not use “Sitter.” You may not be able to use the word “caregiver.” You may have to use “your helper around the house, or help with meal prep, even help with light housekeeping.”

Other emotions may pop up too, so don’t be surprised when shame or fear show up. If you are feeling resentment, anger or burnout you NEED a break NOW. When your “give a damn doesn’t give a damn anymore,” it is past time for time away. Caregiver fatigue and burnout are very real and they can lead to your own set of illnesses.  I want you to take care of yourself. Breaks and time away help you to be an even better caregiver.

However, if you notice these signs of caregiver burnout, it’s time to take your health seriously and give yourself a well-deserved break:

  • Feeling “trapped” or hopeless
  • Losing patience or compassion for your loved one
  • Overreacting to small accidents
  • Resenting or neglecting your loved one
  • Withdrawing from your personal hobbies and friendships
  • Oversleeping or not sleeping enough
  • Overeating, not eating enough, or eating a lot of high-sugar foods
  • Having health problems
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Having thoughts of suicide
  • You are impatient with your care receiver
  • You are making mistakes (medications, appointments, etc.)
  • You feel lonely
  • You have snapped at your care receiver
  • You feel exhausted most of the time
  • You are bored
  • You are experiencing memory problems
  • You are experiencing signs and symptoms of depression
  • Your own relationships are declining

Design a plan that works for you and your family. What are the needs and who can fulfill them? Take some time to think.

What do you need? Be specific. Three hours off twice a week? 24 hours completely away? A regular day or night off to be with your spouse? A night off to be with your friends?

What does your loved one need? Meals prepared? Laundry? Shopping? Personal care? Haircut? Daily walks? Help with medications? Companionship? Light housekeeping? Taken to doctor appointments? Yardwork?

Who can pitch-in? Tell everyone what is needed. Have a sign-up sheet. Have a day in mind, but try to be flexible, Maye they can’t help on Wednesday, but they can help on Thursday.

Sometimes, you may have to have a family meeting or as I like to call them. “A come to Jesus meeting.”  If you find some family members unwilling or unable to help…help them write a check for respite care or handle some of your things at your house that needs to be taken care of while you are away from your own home.

Look online for Respite care in your area.

Look at in-home care, non-medical for companion care.

Check out your local area’s Office on Aging.

Search for Adult daycare facilities in your area.

What are the benefits for taking a break from caregiving?

It can prevent you from having an emotional breakdown.

It provides you time to take care of your own personal business.

Having other people ready to take over should you become ill or have to be away.

It may provide you with a different perspective.

You are better able to make necessary decisions when you are clearer headed.

You will decrease your stress, which will improve your own health.

You get to re-engage with your own spouse, partner, children or friends.

You will be a better caregiver and manager for your loved one.

You catch up on rest.

Pat

Wednesday Wonderings… How to decide what to do, what to delegate and what to mark off the list.

October 13, 2021

What do you do when you have multiple “To do” lists or your “To do” list has a “to do list?’ Do you get laser focused and start at the top? Do you put it away? Do you do the most important thing first or do you do the one that takes the least amount of time first?

What criteria do you use to make decisions at work? What about, at home with your family? What about with your friends? Hang on… your head may begin to hurt in a little while. What criteria or values do we use to make decisions? What about our intuition and gut instinct?

The average adult makes about 35,000 decisions every day or so we are led to believe. I don’t think there have been any studies on that but the point is…we make a lot of decisions every day and we get tired. I did find one study that was documented by Cornell University that we make about 226 decisions every day about food. The biggest decision about food is where to go eat. Talk about back and forth.

At first I was just going to help pare down the number of decisions made per day, but, no, it always gets more complicated. I did find some information to make it easier on you to make decisions. Think about what is going on inside your mind when you are thinking about a decision that needs to be made. What are all the parameters or guidelines must you deal with? How do you decide what is the most important decision to make, right now? Hell, how many decisions do you have to consciously make on this one problem?

Habits are good for us. They help us to save brain function energy. How many things do you do on automatic? What have you put into your morning routine? You no longer have to think about it, you just do it. It does not use your brain energy. By the way, you only have so much focused brain energy per day. I believe it is about 3 hours. Remember when you were learning to ride a bicycle? You had to listen to instructions, process them in your mind, think about each and every step, in order, to pedal and keep your balance. After crashing a few times, you learned to keep peddling and turn before you went off the side of the road and down the bank. You kept practicing and you kept getting better and better. Soon, you could jump on that bike and ride for hours. You got to the point that you just knew what to do and how to do it. You no longer had to concentrate, think, remember and do the steps in order.

Driving to work. It took a while, but you learned the route. Uh oh, the road you usually use is blocked off. Now what are you going to do? Some of you are going to cuss. Some of you are going to use the alternate route that you already know, because, you know that you need to know 3 different ways to get somewhere. Others are going to have to use their phones or other travel route providers. How tight does your jaw get when you don’t know where you are and you are not sure that you can find your building going the back roads. How much time and brain energy does that one little mess up cause you? Probably about 20 minutes plus a cortisol dump that you will have to contend with and calm down from in order to actually focus at work. That is probably another 30 to 40 minutes. You cannot think rationally right after a cortisol dump, it is physiologically impossible. Now you are down to 2 hours of focused energy for the day. Hmm.

It is always the “new things” that pop up that cause the problems. The new things to learn that take time, effort and a lot of energy. We look for ways to decrease our energy expenditure and having habits or routines help us out with that. Issues to decide upon that we have never had to think about before. Those issues take time, effort and energy. Don’t forget about everything else that is running round in your mind that you “need” to deal with too. If you can compartmentalize, maybe you can give yourself enough of a break that you can deal with one situation at a time. There again, how do you decide what to tackle first out of that list of 10 things to be done?

What is important to you? What are your core values? The principles that you use to live your life. Your own judgement of what is important in your own life. Do you have a standard of behavior that you expect out of yourself? What would your life look like and how much easier would your decision making be if you truly searched for your personal core values and used them in your decision making? You could make better decisions and save brain energy. Win-win!

How do you find what your core values are? It is a process and you will be glad that you did the process. Once you know your 10 core values you will always be able to make easier decisions that line up with your belief system. When you make decisions that line up with your belief system you feel more at ease, more comfortable and even relaxed.

How to Identify Your Values – Ask yourself the following questions

  1. When were the times that you were the happiest?
  2. What makes me happy?

What is the common theme or thread behind the last three positive decisions you made? What gives you true happiness in your life? What were you doing?

  • What makes me feel proud?

Why were you proud? An achievement, met a goal, exceeded expectations

  • What have I done that makes me feel happy and satisfied with the outcome?

A personal success usually relates to making a good decision. Maybe your decision provided great results for someone else.

  • When was the last time that I felt fulfilled or complete?

When you satisfy your values, a sense of fulfillment or a feeling of completeness usually follows.

  • From the list below or from your own list, choose your top 10 values, in no particular order. Then you are going place them in order of importance and maybe even get rid of a few. Sometimes we do have situational ethics, (an “it depends” kind of issue) and there are some things that are deal breakers. You may find you have two or three absolutes or maybe five or six. If you have trouble putting the values in order of importance, look at them two at a time and ask yourself, “If I could satisfy only one of these values, which one would I choose?”

https://thehappinessplanner.com/pages/list-of-core-values

You may find other lists online as well.

It may be hard to narrow down your list, but do so for your own good mental health. Some of the values listed can be placed under an umbrella term also on the list.

What happens if you have conflicting values? Which value is more important to you at this time? What might things look like if you could honor both values?

Your values are formed by your thoughts. You have been thinking, adjusting and growing in your thoughts since you were born. A word of caution, be sure they are your own thoughts and values and not what you have been programmed. We all have unknown biases. We have all grown up accepting things and now that we can think for ourselves, we are supposed to question what we were told or taught and we are supposed to figure out “stuff.”

Are the decisions that you make in line with your own values? When a choice makes you feel uneasy, be still and think about why you are feeling that way. What is you gut telling you? Intuition (gut knowing) is as important as facts and good data information. That is an article for another day.

You want to know what is important to you before a crisis hits. Have you gone against you values or principles before? How did that work out? How did you feel? Prioritize your top 3 most important values.

  • Do these values make you feel good about yourself?
  • Are you proud of the top 3 values you have chosen?
  • Do these values represent things you would support even if it puts you in the minority?

Making a decision may not be easy, but it will be easier.

I like the Eisenhower Matrix (box) to help folks to figure out what is urgent and important. Urgent and unimportant. Not urgent but important. Not urgent and not important. Using this box can make you life easier. I would suggest that you use the box a few times to get used to it and then you will probably be able to do it in your head.

Other tips:

Work from a “To do” list with only 3 things on it. That is all you will have time to focus on anyway.

Consider decision making criteria

  • Your purpose
  • Your strengths
  • Your skills
  • Your values
  • Your effort and energy required
  • Your cost
  • Your acceptable risk levels

If you are having a rough time or do not feel well, it is fine to wait on an important decision. My hope for you is that you prepare a plan or make most decisions ahead of a crisis. If you need some help with this, let’s talk and see if I may be of service to you or your loved one.

Pat

865-684-8771

Wednesday wonderings … Why does a fear of failure stop us from trying?

October 6, 2021

Do you believe that failure is an event or one that has failed?

Do you believe that you are a failure? You are not! You may have failed at something and felt the shame and embarrassment of that event, but you are not a failure. That is really the crux of it all isn’t it… shame and embarrassment.

I wasn’t there for my mom, when she needed me, and she fell, laying on the floor for three hours until she was found and helped by my uncle. The phrase “when she needed me” goes straight to the heart and the mind starts racing with all these thoughts. The “I shoulda.” “It would not have happened,” “I coulda.”

After this incident with my mom, I beat myself up for a long time (years, actually). The reality is that I was not supposed to be there that day. But in my mind, if she needed me for anything then I was supposed to be there. It did not have to be logical; this was my mama and I love her dearly and will do anything and everything that I can to help her.

What comes to mind for you when you think about a fear of failure? Now, go back and think about it logically and realistically. Was it an accident? Was it something that you did or did not do? Don’t even go to the “I should have predicted” place. Do you realize that it was an event and not you?

Go back and replay it in your mind and if you can make changes for the future, then go ahead and make changes.

Have you wondered what causes fear of failure? It is usually your own thoughts and feelings.

  • You worry about what other people will think of you
  • You worry that some people may not like you anymore
  • You worry that you are not smart enough or capable enough
  • You worry that you will never reach your goals
  • You worry about disappointing people whose opinion matter to you
  • You procrastinate
  • You are reluctant to try new things
  • Your perfectionistic tendencies arise
  • You will be embarrassed
  • You will be humiliated
  • You feel shame

All of these things come up when we have a fear of failure. We never ever want to feel shame, embarrassment or humiliation. We are our own worst critics. We catastrophize.

Failing means we are trying to do better. To get better. To be better. Yes, we will mess up sometimes, but we are moving forward and trying again. We learn what did work and what did not work. Failure is a chance to learn.

  • We learn that baseball players that bat 0.300 are stars. That means that seven out of ten times they strike out.  
  • Albert Einstein did not start reading until he was seven.
  • Dr. Seuss’ first book was rejected 27 times.
  • Vincent Van Goh only sold one painting in his lifetime.
  • Katy Perry’s first album sold 200 copies.
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job for being unfit for television.
  • Vera Wang failed to make the 1968 Olympic figure skating team.
  • Thomas Edison’s teachers told him he was, “too stupid to learn anything.”
  • Steve Jobs was fired from his own company.

All of these people, and many more, kept trying. They kept learning. They kept moving forward.

“Fear of failure is the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reaction to the negative consequences you anticipate for failing to achieve a goal. It is the intense worry, the negative thinking and the reluctance to take action you experience when you imagine all the horrible things that could happen if you failed to achieve a goal.”   Theo Tsaousides, PhD.

There are things you can do if you have a fear of failure.

  1. Acknowledge that fear of failure makes you feel fear and shame. Explore those feelings, if it is safe to do so. What are those feelings trying to tell you? Remember, all feelings are trying to keep us safe. Is it your 5-year-old self that is trying to be in charge?
  2. Anxiety is not all bad. We need some anxiety to get us excited, or to move forward and to be aware of danger.
  3. Prepare, practice, learn new things
  4. Identify what you can control and focus on that
  5. Learn how to relax, take a break and recharge
  6. Go through the possible outcomes…all the way through
  7. Learn to think more positively. We are hard wired to go to negative consequences.
  8. Worst-case-scenario – it may really be a disaster and it may be a reason to fear failure…just know that this is a rare occurrence.
  9. What are two small goals that you can set and do, right now?
  10. Have a contingency plan, in case Plan A, B, or even C does not work out.

What negative self-talk do we say to ourselves when we mess up?

  • I have let my loved one down.
  • I have failed and now I am stuck.
  • I have failed and so I must not have what it takes to succeed.
  • I can’t learn new ways or new things.
  • I have royally screwed up and now everyone knows about it. I am so embarrassed.

Stop it! All you have to acknowledge is that you messed up and what you will do to fix it…if it can be fixed. Do better next time.

Maybe the shame and embarrassment is causing the fear of failure. We like to learn and try new things. We do love our spouse and families. Remember when your kids began to learn how to play sports? Take T-ball, for example. They are 5 years old. They have the uniform, the glove, the cleats, the hat and yet, they still cannot run to first base without being told where to run. They are in the outfield and they are looking up at the plane flying by or the train that is passing through. Don’t forget about the butterfly that just lit on the grass and now the whole outfield is over there squatting down and watching it. Fast forward 4 years and now they are 9 years old and in Little League. It is all serious now. The hits, the strikeouts, the runs, the wins and the losses.

What happened during those 4 years? They got older, they grew and they practiced. They learned. They are still learning. They are perfecting their swing and their ability to see the ball as it is pitched. They are learning to get that glove on the ground and squeeze that ball in the glove. They are getting better at knowing where to throw the ball. By the time they are 12 years old, they have the basics mastered and now those functions are muscle memory. They have to put in the time, they have to be coachable, they have to be willing to learn new ways and new things.

The same thing happens to us as adults. We learn, we grow, we mess up and we learn some more. I have had folks that were very good at their jobs try to be a care giver. They have even said, “I can manage my company” or “I can do this and that.” But, I cannot understand why I cannot manage my mom’s needs. I smile and nod. It just so happens that this medical stuff is not your area of expertise. The other things at your job you can do in your sleep, but not this. There is a huge learning curve. That is why I do what I do, to help families like yours.

I know what it feels like to have your pride hurt. I know what it feels like when your ego gets bruised and beat up. I know what it feels like to feel shame and embarrassment. It sucks! It is hard to learn some lessons. It is hard to realize that you are causing your own suffering by believing the untrue negative self-talk. It is hard to move forward when you keep beating yourself up. It is in the past and all we can do is to move forward and be better than we were yesterday.

I found this paragraph on shame and want to share it with you.

“Shame is a psychologically toxic emotion because instead of feeling bad about our actions (guilt) or our efforts (regret), shame makes us feel bad who we are. Shame gets to the core of our egos, our identities, our self-esteem, and our feelings of emotional well-being. The damaging nature of shame makes it urgent for those who have a fear of failure to avoid the psychological threats associated with failing by finding unconscious ways to mitigate the implications of a potential failure—for example, by buying unnecessary new clothes for a job interview instead of reading up on the company—which allows them to use the excuse, “I just didn’t have time to fully prepare.” “Guy Winch PhD

You will not fail, you cannot fail. It is too important to you. Keep adjusting. Keep trying. Seek help when you need help. Are you smart enough to know when you don’t know?

Things that make you go, hmmm.

Pat

Wednesday wonderings … Why do you believe you have to handle everything?

If you are a control freak, you may be a part of my tribe.

September 29, 2021

If you are anything like me, you handle it because that is what you do. See the problem, figure out the solution and handle the problem. That works great if it is just your problems you are handling. What happens when it is another person’s issue? Yeah, I know, I figure out a solution and handle the problem. It has gotten me in to a lot of trouble though. You would think that I would learn to not do anything unless asked. I am a work in progress. I am better than I was, but I have quite a way to go.

What makes us like that? Some of us have been this way since birth and it just seems natural to identify the issue or problem, find a workable solution and handle the issue or problem. If the solution does not work, then we try something else. We are problem solvers by nature. Where we get in to trouble is when we haven’t been asked to figure something out or to even help. My failure is in assuming that if you are sharing something with me, then you want my opinion or help. I have to tell people, that if you are venting, please let me know or I will be trying to “fix it.”

What I found out as an adult is that I am a control freak. I like order. I like to have a plan. I am perfectly fine with changing or updating a plan, but I have to have a plan, I do not do well with “flying by the seat of my pants.” I have perfectionistic tendencies, just add it to the list of things I am working on.  Don’t worry, we will be getting to you and your tendencies very soon. When the control freak tries to take over, I have to stop and figure out what is driving me? Is it some kind of fear?  Maybe, it is because everything will fall to pieces. If I don’t stay in control I might be seen as weak.

So, what makes you handle everything? Is it your nature or could it possibly be a few other things? What fears do you have?

A moderate amount of control is a good thing for all of us. The problems arise when we find ourselves forcing our will on other people or situations. Sometimes, we do not know we are doing that. Sometimes, we don’t want to be still and think about what is really going on inside our own heads. Other times, we are in a crisis of some sort and are reacting. If you have ever read about the underlying factors of needing to be in control… you probably thought “that is not me.” Some of it may not be you, but some of it, is you.

What fits your pattern?

Traumatic experience

Abusive experiences

Anxiety

Trust issues

Low self-esteem

Fear of abandonment

Your beliefs, values or faith

Fear of experiencing painful emotions

Perfectionism and Fear of failure

Self-centeredness

Possessiveness

Mood swings

Sense of entitlement

Personality disorder

Learned behavior

As you see, there are many things that can keep your “need to be in control” on high alert. Most of us are able to figure out what is causing our need to be in control. If you are not able to figure yours out, it may be time to see a talk therapist for a few visits. Why a talk therapist? They can help you to identify your triggers and they can help you with coping mechanisms and skills to help you keep yourself in check.

Here are some questions that I found to ask your control freak self.

7 questions control freaks could ask themselves:

  1. How are you helping others grow?
  2. Is this worth your time, attention, and energy (TAE)? Control freaks squander their talent by getting involved in trivialities.
  3. How much of your TAE is spent on things that AREN’T working?
  4. How might you choose personal growth and development when you feel like controlling others?
  5. How are you putting long-term organizational interests ahead of your own?
  6. How would you like people to interact with you?
  7. Do you want compliance, contribution, or commitment from others?

Bonus: How much do you like loneliness?

Are you willing to let go of your illusion of control? Are you willing to accept and notice things as they are, right now, without judgement? The without judgement part, may send you over the edge, but hang-on you will feel better and actually be better.

You do not have to feel hopeless. You may actually have more hope once you get out of the muck and mire and see things, the way they really are. You can take a breath, relax and make better choices. You think that being in control keeps you safe, it doesn’t. Focus on your adaptability. That is what really keeps you safe. We can take situations as they are and we can find a way forward, make adjustments, & adapt. You have done it before and you need to go back and remember those successes. Learn to rely on your ability. That knowledge may help you to realize when you need help or when you need to let it go and let it be, as it is right now. Things will never be as they used to be and that is not always a bad thing. It is just different. You are learning something new. You are learning a new way to cope. Be kind to yourself. You are a work in progress, too.

Pat

Wednesday Wonderings… Am I broken?

How do you know when you are broken?

September 22, 2021

What was the first big obstacle that found its way right in the middle of your path? You know, the one that kicked your ass. The one that made you doubt everything that you though you knew. That situation that you did not think you would survive. You got a punch to the gut or maybe a rabbit punch that you did not even see coming. It happens to all of us.

How long do you need to catch your breath and get your legs back under you? Yes, you got knocked down and it hurts. You waller for a little while or a long while, but eventually, you do get up and move forward again. It is only when you stay down and waller that you feel broken. Notice that I said, feel. We all know that our feelings can lie to us. Our thoughts mess with our minds too. Just who is in charge here? You learn to go with what you know and not how you feel. It is simple but it is certainly not easy. You keep having conversations or fights inside your mind.

Nothing that you try is working for your loved one. Doctors are not helping. A decline is happening and you don’t know what to do next. One thing after another keeps piling on. Your shoulders can’t take much more and your knees are beginning to buckle. What do you do next?

If you are smarter than the average bear, you take a time out, rest and recharge for two or three days and then look at things with fresh eyes. Maybe you call a meeting of the minds and brainstorm for options. Maybe it is time to call Pat and get a plan of action with options to access when you need them. Yes, that was a shameless plug for my services.

Making decisions under stress is a set-up for failure. Sure, it may work for a few days or even a week, but eventually, you will be dealing with a much larger problem and much more stress. Managing by crises is exhausting and you never get rested. When you are under abnormal stress your body dumps cortisol and the other stress hormones. This dumping of hormones activates the fight, flight, freeze or fawn types of reactions. You cannot physiologically make a rational decision. Your brain has been hijacked. You can make a decision or choice but it will not be a rational or logical one. You are really reacting to a perceived danger and will do whatever it takes to feel safe in the moment.

Regret. The feeling that you feel about 30 minutes to an hour later. You find yourself trying to reason out what in the hell has just happened and what is going on now? Oops! You don’t have the time to ponder that. Something else needs your immediate attention. Off you go. Your brain has been hijacked again because of another stress hormones dump.

Why do you feel broken? Have you failed at something? Are you beating yourself up for either making a mistake or not having good information? Are you just exhausted and running on auto-pilot? Maybe, you feel that you are only existing. You are not in control of anything and you cannot seem to get a handle on things. This expands to your whole life. Everything is running together and there are no clear boundaries anymore. Overwhelmed is what you are. You are not okay. You are grieving. You need permission to not be okay. Will you allow yourself too not be, okay? Will you tell someone that you are not, okay? Will you accept yourself as you are or will you still fight it? Will you let yourself feel your feelings? Yes, be still and feel your feelings and emotions without judging them. Let them be how ever they are. It is one of your body’s defense mechanisms to protect itself. You don’t have to solve anything, right now. Now is the time for accepting yourself just as you are. Maybe you feel broken because you are heartbroken.

Crap is changing and we do not like change. It is hard to change. It is hard to accept change. Acceptance of what is, right now, is one way to begin moving forward. If you have ever lifted weights, you know that it is hard to build muscle. It is painful. It is time consuming. You must give the muscle rest for it to grow and get stronger. It is the same way for us as care givers. We must learn new things. We must accept things that we do not want to accept. We must rest, accept and recharge to get stronger.

Sure, you can fight feeling your emotions and fight changes and even fight accepting things as they are now. You can stuff that shit down. Eventually, all that pressure will keep building up and escaping as a little steam (ranting and raving) until you are completely overwhelmed and explode leaving a damaging and sometimes un-survivable blast radius (relationships, job, friends, kids).

Tips for being more resilient:

Get more comfortable not knowing everything. We all want to know “why?”. There are times we will never know “why?’. Always wanting to know “Why?” will keep us stuck. When there is a feeling of being stuck, you will not move forward. Carl Yung says, “What we resist, persists.” So, stop resisting and learn your lesson, then move on.

Can you find some joy in what you are doing? Do you know “your why?” Learn to refocus on what truly matters. Learn to refocus on who really matters. You learn that you don’t have to give in to every whim of your feelings. Feelings can change quickly.

Feeling broken is an illusion. We have biases both known and unknown. Our feelings will lie to us and our emotions will fuel our beliefs. Our beliefs are linked to our perceptions of what is or what should be. Our beliefs determine how we interpret and feel about the events that happen in our lives. I don’t know where I read this or heard this, but it seems to be true. Once we form our beliefs, our mind has a natural tendency to search for the evidence to prove them right. It is not what happens to us in our lives that creates the experiences that we have, but it is our beliefs about those events that have happened. Basically, you can change how you view stuff if you challenge how and why you believe what you believe. Stop telling yourself, “I am broken,” “I can’t,” “I will try.”  Every time I hear the phrase “I’ll try,” it reminds me of the character Yoda that says, “There is do or do not, there is no try.” I also heard it from a counselor that stated if you say “I’ll try” you are giving yourself a way out. So, do it or don’t do it.

When your give a damn, can’t give a damn. Find three things that you are grateful for every day and write them down.

Become more aware of when you are susceptible to feeling broken.

You are tired.

You are frustrated.

You feel nothing.

You begin beating yourself up.

You feel the “woulda, shoulda, coulda’s”

You feel shame, guilt or anger

When things become uncomfortable, you shut down.

When you feel some of these things, remember your goal or set a new goal. You need something to focus on. Something to bring you back to center. I am not saying stuff your emotions, I am saying do not let them get in control and hijack your brain.

Responsibility and discipline. They can be scary words and even scarier to accept and work on.

You are responsible for yourself and your own feelings. No one can make you feel anything, you get to decide. Discipline is when you decide what you will or won’t do.

You may be a little bent but you are not broken so stop trying to “fix” yourself. You just have some feelings that you need to deal with. Set a small new goal. Be consistent and achieve your goal. Keep going. Set another goal, and another and another. Keep growing. Keep getting better and better. Stronger and stronger. When you get knocked down, take a breather and get back up and move forward again. You don’t go back to zero, you begin where you left off. Give yourself permission to let go of old hurts. Give yourself permission to let go of the need to always be in control. Fuel your body with good nutrition. Hydrate. Move your body. Have compassion for yourself.

Pat

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