Monday, May 27, 2013

Get a Notebook

A good friend has just entered the caregiver journey. She’s a very smart person, highly organized and efficient, and we’ve talked about what’s coming in terms of caregiver responsibilities.

One of the suggestions she’s taken to heart is getting a notebook in which she’s keeping notes, instructions, forms and information relating to her caregiving situation.

If you don’t have a folder, file, notebook, box or something in which you store all the stuff you need to keep up with sooner or later you’ll be unable to find something important at just the moment you really need it.

Go to an Office Depot or Staples and get one of those big 4-inch-wide binders. Get a package of sheet protectors (for the articles you want to save and forms you’ll need on a regular basis). You might want to get a couple of the plastic pages in which you can put the business cards you might get from service providers.

I know some folks who are waaaaay organized who have different tabs for sections such as Insurance, Medicare, Home Care Groups and other topics.

Having something in which you can keep all the stuff means one less thing to worry about…. ‘cause you know you’ve got more than enough to worry about.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

You're Going to Have to Cowboy Up

Here’s the tough news I hate to give you: You’re going to have to Cowboy Up and be a caregiver.

My friends out west who use the phrase say that Cowboy Up means you’re going to have to toughen up and make some difficult decisions and do some difficult things.

I had to be a caregiver for my father and I’m having to be a caregiver for my mother. I didn’t want to do it for my father, and I don’t want to have to be a caregiver for my mother, but I did it and I’m doing it.

That doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that I didn’t love my father nor do I not love my mother.

But, caregiver duties are sometimes so difficult and challenging—not just the duties themselves, but the feelings those duties bring with them—that they bring a wild range of conflicting feelings.

Guilt, anger, fear, frustration, irritation and even anger are all part of the caregiving experience; just as joy, fun, laughter, happiness and satisfaction come with caregiving.

And, though research shows that the quality of the relationship you had with the person for whom you are caring often determines the type of experience you have as a caregiver, no matter how wonderful your previous relationship has been with the person for whom you are caring you’ll still have, at times, negative feelings.

You can not feel guilty about having down times and negative feelings…although you will.

The up-side is that being able to Cowboy Up builds courage and character. And, you’ll be able to take the courage and character you’ve learned into the rest of your life. 

You’ll discover that the courage and character you develop starts to affect other areas of life; your family, your work, your spiritual life, your physical life, even your ability to create and reach bigger and better goals.

Whether you believe it, or even know it or not, being able to Cowboy Up may be the greatest gift caregiving brings to you.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Keeping Up With Our Stuff

When caregiving makes you crazy one of the first things to go is your short-term memory? You're focused on your challenges and no telling how many other, little, everyday things fall through the cracks.

Like your car keys. Anybody misplaced those lately? How about your glasses or cell phone or purse or shoes or…you get the idea.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, reporter Michael Hsu noted that, luckily, the brainiacs in the computer business have started coming up with gizmos that can help us keep track of our stuff.

The technology can be extremely useful for caregivers.

StickNFind ($50 for two,, hipKey ($90, and the Proximo ($60, all use Bluetooth technology. You use an app on your phone to find your stuff, or, in some cases, you push a button on the device to find your phone. They use small sensors you stick on the things you want to keep track of.

As more and more Baby Boomers become caregivers and Generation X becomes caregiver sensitive because they have to care for those of us who are their Boomer/parents we’ll see a whole range of gadgets meant to help us. Think of the camera setups long-distance caregivers are using to watch their parents. You can buy the camera and technology at Radio Shack. Sensors are being used to tag folks in care centers so they can be found if they wander away.

While technology can’t do much for what goes on in our hearts as we move through the caregiver journey, increasingly it can help our heads.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Annie and Another Day

Just walked out to get the paper and it’s overcast…again. The last few days here in my part of North Carolina have been pretty nasty and it’s starting to get me down.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t been ugly and raining all year, or for the past month or even for a whole week.

But, a few days of rain can easily get you into a feeling of, “Is the sun EVER going to come out again?”

Caregiving can keep you in that bad weather feeling a lot of the time if you let it.

When the weather isn’t perfect for awhile it’s hard to remember what it was like when it was sunny. Remembering that the sun is up there all the time, but just hidden right now, can be a challenge, especially when caregiving.

There’s a cute song from the Broadway show/movie, Annie…Tomorrow; I’m sure you’ve heard it. One of the lines is, “The sun’ll come out tomorrow.”

I just checked the weather report. The forecast for morning is continued overcast so for the short term things will stay gray. The forecast for the next 5 days is partly cloudy so, while the sun may peek through at times, it looks like I’ve got to create my own sunshine.

Not a bad metaphor for caregiving and life.