Elder Care Made Easier 2 edition Dr. Marion Somers
Elder Care A-Z©
Caregiving can be an overwhelming challenge. You’re not alone. There are millions of others in your position. Make a copy of this list and put it on your refrigerator or desk at work. It could become a shorthand way to keep you organized, and I hope it lifts your spirits.
A Address the issue(s) at hand.
Dr. Marion… “The complexity of caregiving needs to be given serious examination. Many of the issues will be obvious and appear at the beginning of your becoming a caregiver. Just stay alert to the myriad changes. Some large, some small that will continue to arise.”
B Be bold and accept the reality of the situation.
Dr. Marion…”Now is the time to be straight forward and figure out what is the best approach for each of the variety of challenges. Use your analytic mind and exercise your common sense strength as the reality before you evolves.”
C Categorize everything that must be dealt with.
Dr. Marion…”Try to make sense of everything that is unfolding, dealing with the most serious issues first and exercising new coping mechanisms with each of the challenges that arise.”
D Delegate where possible.
Dr. Marion…”For some delegation comes easily and for others who prefer to do everything themselves, delegation becomes a chore or is uncomfortable. In order for you to deal with the many unexpected concepts that will arise you will find the skill to delegate becomes more comfortable as well as a way for you to make your caregiving journey easier and even pleasant. Learning to delegate maybe an opportunity for you to grow.”
E Ethical decisions must be made at all times.
Dr. Marion…”When one adheres to ethical decisions whether for another or yourself the right answers usually smooth the path for common sense and the ability to stay within acceptable social, ethical, and legal boundaries.”
F Financial matters should be in order.
Dr. Marion…”Ideally financial matters are in order when you become a caregiver, but this is not always the situation that you become aware of while sorting thru the morass of years, papers, and legal documents. My experience has been when you become aware of the pile of “stuff” that has to be attended to, it is often a wake-up call to get your own financial concerns in order as you learn the whys and wherefores of how each financial category must be examined and addressed before the next hurdle can be accomplished.”
G Get going and don’t procrastinate.
Dr. Marion…”Procrastination is something most of us have indulged in at one time or periodically. But when you take on the role of caregiver, each item that needs to be attended to is important. Procrastination will thwart your energies as the expression goes “And just do it.” When you attend to the issues, whether it is a big or small endeavor, you may feel better.”
H Help is available if you search and ask.
Dr. Marion…”I have always been amazed that when I have actually harnessed my energies to ask somebody to do something for me or to ask a favor most of the time the request was responded to in a positive way. In fact I learned that people sometimes wanted to be included, but did not know how to make their availability known. This was a big personal lesson and a deeper understanding of the expression of “Ask and ye shall receive.”
I Independence of your elder must be considered at all times.
Dr. Marion…”Helping others to maintain their independence is important whether they are young or old makes no difference. Independence is at the core of that person. I have found it best to ask of the individual “what they want”, “how should we proceed”, “what are your thoughts about this” or in some way incorporate the person who needs care into the choosing process where and when possible.”
J Juxtapose your thoughts with your elder’s and think about what he or she needs.
Dr. Marion…”When a direction needs to be taken, and choices need to be made, sometimes it is easier to break it down to what options are available. When the other person understands why something would work better in one direction or another, or there are some limitations as to what the options might be—bringing clarity to what might be complicated or ambiguous is very helpful to the person who is needing care. I would very often sing my little ditty of “options, options, options”. And then they would laugh. Getting clarity on the path before you sometimes takes truly examining all the options and finding which you and the person you are concerned about what they think is most right.”
K Keep a journal of contacts, including names, dates, times, topics, outcomes, and next steps.
Dr. Marion…”It seems obvious to keep notations of everything that transpires, but the reality is days are busy and often hectic, and facts, dates will disappear like the mist. When you establish a simple record system, it makes it easier to refer back to get specific information from all the people you have been involved with over all the days, sometimes months and years. In the long run this will save time and energy and you’ll maintain some semblance of accuracy.”
L Legal issues should be handled in a specific and comprehensive manner.
Dr. Marion…”Legal matters have to be taken very seriously and accuracy is paramount. Plus keeping all legal papers in a safe and easily accessible place is equally important. These records should be kept for years, long after the person has passed on. Trying to gather the information that might be needed at a much later date, may be time and energy consuming or even become an unproductive effort.”
M Make time for your own family, job, and social life.
Dr. Marion…”The caregiving journey may be rewarding, but it is very important that you not lose sight of your personal priorities, your life goals and aspirations. I would liken it very much to, if you don’t replenish your own personal inner well you will potentially run dry in the way of energy and motivation. It is very important to understand that the person you are caring for needs you and you in turn must take equal care to maintain yourself in mind, body, and spirit”.
N Know the desired outcomes, goals, and projected solutions to the challenges.
Dr. Marion…”I am a firm believer in management by objective, setting out goals with time frames and clarity of purpose. Focus of purpose usually accomplishes more of what you actually want to achieve. For each challenge that arises, think in terms of your goals and objectives and your time frames. Staying organized helps you and supports the person you are caring for.”
O Organize your thoughts and plan ways to address each challenge.
Dr. Marion…” I always say, “It is easier to hit a target if you know what you are aiming for.” The same applies for the caregiving journey you are traversing.” In the story of Alice in Wonderland and the Cheshire Cat as Alice, she comes to the fork in the road, the Cat asks, ”Where are you going?”… “I don’t much care where – “ said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat. “-so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.” Dr. Marion says, “We accomplish more when we know where we are going and we can direct our focus of purpose.”
P Prioritize your own issues and time constraints.
Dr. Marion…”The focus of prioritizing both for yourself and the person you are caring for will help you stay on what is important and not get lost in the daily trivia that will often take us off track unless we are alert. Sometimes this focus needs to be done many times during the course of the day, or a week. But the ability to stay focused will be a benefit to you on so many levels.”
Q Quality of life, both yours and your elder’s, must be addressed.
Dr. Marion…”Always coming back to what are your interests, your concerns, your hopes and desires, your fears, fantasies and dread. Bringing quality of life to you and yours is a moment by moment process. Knowing what makes you happy and content needs just as much attention as all the large and small emergencies that need attending to. Aiming for a sense of balance means staying alert to what is entering your consciousness and may be entering the thought process of the person you are caring for…. in other words, stay alert, stay vigilant!”
R Recreation and time away are healthy and necessary for your own peace of mind.
Dr. Marion…”Recreation and leisure in any way shape or form has wonderful positive impacts on our lives, our physicality and our souls. Even a short break daily will have an uplifting impact. There was a time when I was taking care of my children, my sick Mother and Sister and the only breaks I was able to manage was hiding out in the bathroom for ten minutes. That may not seem like a lot of time, but it was the only “my time” in the day. I learned from this experience that the body is always ripe for healing and upliftment if we give ourselves the time the body needs to regenerate.”
S Search for all resources that might help your caregiving journey.
Dr. Marion…”When doing a computer search, no matter what the subject, the more detailed you are the more likely you will get focused answers. The computer/internet are an amazing resource, but also keep in mind National Associations that are in the category of your specific needs/search are helpful, resourceful and a great avenue for contacts to have your unique questions/needs addressed. Sometimes there are absolute treasures of information in your immediate community.”
T Trust the elder you’re caring for, and trust your basic caregiving instincts.
Dr. Marion…”Learning to trust your basic instincts, intuition, and insights are very helpful to you as a caregiver. The more you reach inside yourself for your deepest truths, the more relevant the answers will be to your needs as well as the one you are caring for. I will often ask my clients what is the truest sense of this particular issue for you? And what does your best self-answer? I personally believe we have the answer to most questions we have if we stop and quietly listen to that inner guidance of personal wisdom born of hard won experience”.
U Understand that being a caregiver requires patience.
Dr. Marion…”Patience needs to be practiced on every level of our interaction with all we encounter and interact with. I believe that having patience with oneself is the greatest opportunity for personal growth and understanding. Patience takes practice and as with anything in life be it sports, any activity, or personal interactions. Patience is the name of the game. When we are patient we listen and the listening brings clarity and calm.”
V Visit your elder in person, or call him or her on the phone, or send cards, letters, flowers, and/or gifts.
Dr. Marion…”With today’s electronic means of interacting one can keep in contact, with anyone virtually anywhere. Sometimes the simplest act of sending a handwritten note, or an uplifting cartoon lets the other person know they are in your thoughts. Most of us need to know there are others who care about us, are concerned, and are willing to make some gesture of out-reach. We all need connection in varying degrees, and varying depths.”
W Write out all information and keep it current.
Dr. Marion…”Staying current with all the information and issues at hand will make, what could be very complicated, very smooth and satisfying. When a river runs swiftly no matter how many, or how large the boulders may be the water, that is continuing to run over the rocks and it will smooth out the boulders surfaces. I have found staying current and on top of the events of the day helps keep harmony in my life and the life of those around me.”
X X-haustion may set in; so find ways to relieve stress.
Dr. Marion…”I simply could not find a word that was appropriate for X. So I took poetic license with a touch of humor to get my point across. It is up to us each individually to run our lives as smoothly as possible no matter what deterrents seem to be thrown in our paths. We all know ways to keep exhaustion at bay, we just need to remember to utilize our expertise of knowing what is right for us individually as well as those surrounding us.”
Y You’re doing a great job-congratulate yourself.
Dr. Marion…”How you congratulate yourself is uniquely yours to celebrate, but celebrate with a whole heart even if you are just a party of one. There was a time when I was extremely busy and indulgenced in saying to myself that I have no time for this nonsense –I immediately reversed this thinking and bought myself little gold stars at the stationary store and every time I felt congratulations for a job well done were in order, I gave myself a gold star. As silly as it may sound each time I took out a gold star and placed it on my refrigerator I felt good and a smile always came to me. I was a party of one and I was having fun.”
Z Zone out and reward yourself for a job well done.
Dr. Marion…”Often in life we will understand we have done something quite remarkable. We need to be able to acknowledge our successes at every opportunity. It is a nice feeling to go to sleep at night knowing you have done your very best. In this process of personal acknowledgement, you are building on successes large and small which have a way of accumulating a greater sense of self-worth. These thought processes smooth the way to appreciate ourselves in new, deeper, and more meaningful ways.”