Archive for the ‘Emotional Support’ Category

Reframing Negative Emotions When Life Throws You A Curve

Posted on February 10th, 2016 by karen

Help When Life Throws You A Curve

by Alana Pietrantuono, LMSW

When a loved one falls seriously ill, family members are faced with an unexpected turn of events, one that likely alters the plans they had spent their entire lives constructing. Accepting these changes is a challenge for anyone — they can leave you feeling as though your life has come to a screeching halt.

Joyce, a 35-year-old nurse, was on the verge of purchasing her first home. She had worked hard for many years and finally saved enough money to realize the dream of owning her own place. But when the health of her father, Charles, a 74-year-old Parkinson’s sufferer, took a turn for the worse, Joyce was forced to put her plans of home ownership on hold.

You see, Joyce had been her dad’s primary caregiver ever since her stepmother, Janet, passed away two years before, and it became clear to her that some serious sacrifices would have to be made in order to help her dad. She felt she had two choices: she could either quit her job and move in with her father to take care of him full-time, or continue working and spend the money she had saved for her condo to pay for his around-the-clock care at home. Charles would not consider moving to a nursing home, as he insisted he was still grieving the loss of wife and didn’t want to leave the house where he and Janet had lived together.

Joyce, for her part, was utterly destroyed by the loss of her home-owning dream. And while she felt guilty about this overwhelming emotion, she still couldn’t deny feeling angry and cheated. “I never thought that this is what my life would become,” she said at our first meeting. “I can’t even cope! But I can’t imagine leaving my father either. I would be a terrible daughter.”

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Meditation For Health

Posted on December 3rd, 2015 by karen

Single Cloud

by Karen Keller Capuciati

When friends tell me about their health issues, I often suggest they start meditating. And I usually I get a look that says, That’s nice, Karen, but I need a real solution to my problem.

But research on this topic is actually beginning to flourish. The National Institute for Health (NIH) is exploring the benefits of meditation for conditions as varied as asthma, panic attacks and heart disease, and there have been promising results. A number of studies indicate an actual cardiac benefit from various meditation techniques, while other research has demonstrated that meditation may indeed reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression and chronic pain.

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Breaking The Alzheimer’s Code: One Hundred Hankies For Joe

Posted on November 6th, 2015 by karen

alzheimer's providing security

We are happy to re-post this very special blog from August of 2014.

 

by Karen Keller Capuciati

I’m at the Alzheimer’s Association’s Annual Education Conference, held a few months ago in Cromwell, Connecticut. Jolene Brackey, the keynote speaker, is what you might call an Alzheimer’s visionary. After graduating from Iowa State University, Jolene began working as an interior designer but soon came to realize that she was more interested working with the people at the Alzheimer’s special care unit across the street from her design firm. She enjoyed the interaction with older people and began formulating her own unique ideas for helping people with dementia live in the moment.

She walks out into the audience and chooses a gentleman entirely at random. She asks him for his wallet and keys.

As the man dutifully hands over the items, Jolene declares, “I’m just going to place them up there behind my podium for a few hours. Okay? So that you don’t lose them.”

The man seems a bit confused but willing to play along.

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Caregiver Salvation: A Delicate Balance

Posted on October 29th, 2015 by karen

Caregiver Stress

by James McGinn, LPC, NCC

“My mom had always been fiercely independent and self-sufficient all of her life,” said Deborah, who, like many of my clients, was struggling with the increasing dependence of her elderly parent. Deborah’s mom, Helen, had been a proofreader for Springfield’s Republican newspaper for decades. Although her retirement in 1986 was bittersweet, Helen was at least partially comforted by her lifelong passion for reading, which brought her to the local library several times each week. As Helen grew older and less mobile, her library sojourns became less frequent, but, fortunately, the librarian with whom she’d built a friendship would drop books off at Helen’s home on her way to or from work.

Sometime around the year 2000, when Helen was in her early 70s, she began to experience distortions in her vision that was eventually diagnosed as macular degeneration, a progressive worsening of the eyesight due to retinal damage that accompanies old age. Macular degeneration can be slowed with vitamins and supplements but has no medical or surgical cure — blindness is the unfortunate prognosis. It’s a disease that regularly impacts millions of people around the world, but it hit Helen particularly hard. Reading had always been her refuge: she’d been able to compensate for the deterioration of other abilities and functions by maintaining an active mind through her love of books, as well as by completing the crossword puzzles in the newspaper everyday. Now, however, with her sight degrading, Helen was at a loss as to how she would cope with her steadily increasing limitations and maintain what little independence she had left.

Deborah had been an active support for her mom for some time, assisting her with errands and transportation needs, but she decided it was time to take on more responsibility for Helen’s daily care. While the obvious solution in cases like this is for the child, or children, to step in as the primary caregiver, it’s a complex and stressful arrangement to say the least. In addition to handling a multitude of duties on behalf of an aging loved one, a caregiver must also contend with the reversal of the parent-child dynamic, as well as the parent’s emotional response to losing their independence and stature. In other words, aside from supervising Helen’s finances, medical treatment, and daily routine, Deborah also had to face Helen’s injured psyche, which the older woman often expressed as criticism and displeasure with her daughter’s decisions.

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Forgive, Release, Let Go

Posted on October 22nd, 2015 by karen

Forgiveness Stone

by Lisa M. Wolfson

I have always been an advocate for self-improvement and growth, but in recent years, as a breast cancer survivor, my desire to make necessary changes has become a priority. I’ve come to realize that inner peace is at the core of maintaining a happy, healthy life.

Struggling with situations that don’t serve me well, but often feeling guilty about letting go of them, has been a continuing source of disquiet for me. Harboring resentments for the actions of others has brought me down and into a dark place. I would tell myself “let it go.” But how do I accomplish that?

When someone’s behavior hurts us or makes us angry, we may hold onto a resentment for the person or situation they’ve created or helped to create. We think of forgiveness as a timid act, an act of giving in. We focus on the source of our pain and decide that forgiving the person who caused that pain allows them to win. What we overlook is that dwelling on the pain hurts us more, lowering our energy, overwhelming our concentration, and undermining the better angels of our nature. In short, the act of holding onto pain hurts us more than it hurts anyone else. It holds us captive and renders us helpless.

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Meal Train: The Best Thing Since Chicken Soup

Posted on October 15th, 2015 by karen

Chicken Tortilla soup from Rosie in New Canaan CT

by Karen Keller Capuciati

When you have a sick friend and you want to help out, sometimes you don’t know what to do. Offers to help — Don’t hesitate to call me! — seem perfunctory. You don’t want to be intrusive or force your sick friend to assign you a job, but you’d really like to show your love and concern . . .

Helping can get complicated.

Well, it just got less complicated. Meal Train is an interactive online service that allows family, friends and neighbors to sign up for delivering meals to friends and loved ones going through difficult times and/or significant life events, whether it’s surgery, cancer treatments, grieving a recent loss, arrival of a new baby, or just to ease the strain of everyday caregiving.

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Ten Tender Tips: Insights From A Cancer Survivor

Posted on October 8th, 2015 by karen

tender gifts - favorite magazines

By Lynda Wertheim

There are no rules on how someone is supposed to react to a diagnosis of a serious disease. Every situation is different. This is a fundamental part of the advice I was given when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 1998. I continue to believe these words are the first things patients need to absorb:

  1. Everyone’s diagnosis is different.
  2. Everyone’s treatment is different.
  3. Everyone’s reaction to their treatment is different.
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The Card

Posted on October 1st, 2015 by kim

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we at In Care of Dad proudly rerun this invaluable blog by breast cancer survivor Christine Taylor detailing the love, support and inspiration she received during her treatment and in the many years since.

 

by Christine Taylor

The first anniversary of my cancer diagnosis has arrived, and I now find myself having thoughts like “One year ago today I got the phone call” and “One year ago today I met my surgeon.”

I vividly remember the panic and fear I experienced back then. A year ago, my world was spinning faster than it had ever spun before, and I stood frozen in the middle. Now, a whole year later, I’m feeling healthy and stronger than I ever have. The entire experience has taught me about perspective.

In the midst of the swirling chaos that my life became last year, I also received the biggest outpouring of love and support I have ever experienced. All of the cards and sentiments people passed along were beautiful and I cherish them all, but there is one that stands out and has served me well as a tool for getting through the toughest times.

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Books And Movies For Inspiration And Support

Posted on September 24th, 2015 by karen

Music Movies & Books for caregivers

by Karen Keller Capuciati

Getting engrossed in a book or a movie can offer a pleasant escape from our daily routine. But for those of us caring for another person, enjoying a book or movie seems like a luxury we just don’t have time for. It’s critically important, though, to find time for ourselves as well — and many times we can gain more than just a break from caregiving by listening to a story someone else wants to tell.

Sometimes a well-told story can bring us a smile, or a new perspective, or inspire us in a way we couldn’t have anticipated. And, honestly, even a good sitcom has the power to turn my mood around.

Over the past four years, In Care of Dad has published many helpful accounts and advisements from the health professionals at Family Centers in Fairfield County, CT, on combating caregiver and grief-related isolation. So we asked them to share some of the titles they might pass on as recommendations to their clients.

From that list:

the conversation

“The Conversation” by Angelo Volandes — This is an accessible guide to the stressful end-of-life communications with loved ones. It offers tremendously valuable advice to those of us taking care of aging parents and, ultimately, to us all. Death is never an easy topic to discuss on a personal level. In fact, many people avoid talking about it altogether, particularly when a loved one’s death is imminent. However, given that we cannot opt out of the event itself, being empowered to discuss death helps families when the unavoidable time comes. Volandes’s book is a truly valuable asset for having this important discussion.
— Amanda Geffner, MSW

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Goodbye House, Goodbye Dad

Posted on September 9th, 2015 by karen
processing grief

Cynthia’s dad, Norman, surrounded by his family in the family home.

by Cynthia Greb

A part of me doesn’t want to write this. I don’t want to revisit my grief. And, I also want to write this while the memories are still somewhat fresh.

Six weeks ago I temporarily moved into the room I had lived in as a teenager. It was the family home, although my family no longer lived there. The kids were all grown and my parents had both recently moved into a nursing home — my father because of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and my mother because there was no longer money for the caregivers we’d hired to assist her.

My home was in Colorado, but I was back in Pennsylvania to spend time with both of my parents and to sell, sort through, and dispose of all the remaining family possessions so that the bank could take possession of the family home. No, it wasn’t a case of foreclosure; it was because we’d had to get a reverse mortgage to pay for my parents’ care. And with them no longer at home, the house had to go to the bank. To say it was a time of great change for the Greb family would be an understatement.

So, I walked in the front door loaded down with my luggage. And I gazed around in shock. My siblings had told me about the pipe that had burst about two weeks before. Apparently the thermostat had been set at about 50 degrees, but one particular bedroom hung over an open porch and I guess the radiator pipes couldn’t hold up to the record cold temperatures.

Large sections of hard wood floor had been pulled up. Insulation had been ripped out. Drywall had been torn down. Rusty looking stains ran down the hall walls. Wainscoting had been removed. One closet had been completely ruined. Furniture and other items had been moved from the damaged areas and stuffed into adjacent rooms. There was a layer of dust everywhere from the work my brother and the clean-up crew had begun. Several fans were going and the living room still smelled of mold and mildew. It was a large house and it looked like a good third of it had been ruined. And the rest of it was looking none too good either.

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