Monday, August 29, 2016

Help Parents Age Well--With Hugs and Love--Until the End

 Importance of Hugs and "Love You's" for Older, Hospitalized Adults
                                    (Seems obvious, doesn't it)

"Hugs" and "Love You"--two expressions generously shared these days.They make us feel valued, nurture our souls, support emotional and physical well being.  They're exchanged countless times by friends and family in our younger years, lessening in old age, and problematical for hospitalized elders and those who love them, especially at life's end.



Hospitalization makes hugs and personal sharing tricky. Aides come in to draw a drop of blood and take temperatures numerous times daily. Physical barriers exist between us and the person in bed. IV poles, monitors, drips, lines, tray tables, night stands--and those bed rails--defy making easy physical contact....unless one has super-long arms or is a contortionist. Hospital regulations, loss of privacy and constant interruptions interfere with that special, loving connection we ideally want with our love ones. And touching is a powerful part.

 The Question:
How do we convey our love and caring to one restricted to a hospital bed?

I'd forgotten how hard it was to give my mother a hug when her small body lay in that wide bed with bed rails up to keep her safe. I forgot how ludicrous I thought it was when elderly people are so weak they need help to turn over, yet have bed's rails blocking  access.
 

Here's the recipe to combat that isolation and bring some normalcy and love into the equation:






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Monday, August 22, 2016

Aging Parents: When We Invest Ourselves in Caregiving

When we work hard at something, expend great effort--perhaps even go beyond what we thought were our limits--we've invested ourselves. Indeed, when we've put a lot of ourselves into something it permeates us. Be it caregiving or whatever, it becomes a significant part of life; the major part of life; and for some individuals--their life. Over time it's easy to lose perspective and upset the needed balance to be emotionally and physically healthy.

                               "You've got to take care of yourself."

How many times do caregivers hear that? We needn't be geniuses to know that food and sleep are necessary for physical health and stamina; but there may be precious little of both due to circumstances beyond our control. It's also easy to get so caught up in the demands and decisions that we forget priorities. We may think about our needs, but other demands supersede.


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Saturday, August 20, 2016

When We No Longer Have Aging Parents--or a Spouse

"I've stepped to the front of the line." Although R had been
widowed for years prior to her elderly mother's death, she often
said that after her mother died. It wasn't until later that it made
an impact and I understood the meaning. I sensed her feeling:
no longer was someone ahead of her to protect her.
Psychologically, did she still feel her 90+ year-old mother had
been  a protector? a buffer? a first line of defense? I wondered.

Indeed, she had us: her son and me, her daughter-in-law. We could and would share her responsibility and be there for her. That said, she cherished independence and was an intelligent, fully functioning, involved woman. Although grateful, she must have considered us back-up.



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Monday, May 16, 2016

Caregiving and Time for Self

  • One reality is that we can't stretch a 24-hour day.
  • A second reality is that--and we all know this, but easier said than done, those entrusted with caregiving must take care of themselves.
  • A third reality: it's hard not to push ourselves....just this one time or just a little bit more...but it's not good for us if it must continue over an extended period.
  • And the last reality--at least for me--is that my time for keeping up with my blog remains in short supply for the time being.
Having set mental markers in my head to warn me of when my ability to remain helpful to anyone, even myself, is at risk--I have asked for help several times since my husband's surgery to replace his aorta and mitral valves on February 4. 

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Aging Mothers: "Thriving at Age 70 and Beyond"--Jane Brody's 4/26/16 Column is Timely for Mother's Day and for Us

With Mother's Day just a week away, the Well column in Tuesday's NY Times, Thriving at Age 70 and Beyond, is timely and worthwhile....

Reading Jane Brody's Thriving at Age 70 and Beyond gives us insights into mothers and grandmothers--and even ourselves; and for creative adult children, it could spark ideas for Mother's Day gifts.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Help Aging Parents--Post Written, but Vanished--Caregiver Stress?

What a surprise to awaken this morning and find yesterday's I-thought-published post missing---gone, nowhere to be found. Help! Aging Parents' goal is to share the best information and some creative ideas to help the elders we care about age as well as possible. With my husband's recent heart valve surgery, I've been more focused on helpful caregiving ideas and yesterday decided to offer some personal reflections. For the first time in the history of this blog, they vanished.

I had written about stress--our cancelled plans to fly this past Tuesday to warm weather and sign the closing papers for the sale of my husband's mother's home. Doctors gave the necessary permission two weeks ago, following my husband's heart valve surgery in February. But all changed at the end of last week when the new mitral valve developed a hole.



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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Aging Parents: Medical and Dental Procedures--When More May Be Too Much

If our parents live long enough, there will no doubt be times when we are--or will be--hesitant to have them experience more misery and/or pain due to unpleasant procedures. But it happens. And if we/they are responsible, the memories can fill us with later regret: the wish-we/they-had-done-differently kind of memories.

To begin, it helps to remember we aren't perfect. Most of us are lay people. We act out of love, concern, caring and compassion or what people we respect suggest. That's emotion or instinct. Even when presented with facts and solid information we can make misjudgments...as can older people.

In the case of both my parents, there are things I wish had been different. Sr. Advisor R, my m-i-l, said several times there were things she wished she had done differently. For Leo, well-researched "more" worked. For my Uncle Harry, possibly not understanding long-term implications led to an earlier death.


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