Ease Pain by Changing Your Thoughts and Feelings

 

There are millions who suffer from chronic illness. Many of these are family caregivers and non-caregivers. For those looking for an answer or new perspective on coping with or helping others cope with chronic illness, included is a list of successful thoughts to assist you.

 

Create Familiar Parallels

  Just as the blowing of the wind is unpredictable, life blows in periods of illness and wellness not on our timetable. Understanding the impermanence of everything helps us accept rather than resist what is happening. Good health and bad health come and go like storms, winds and sun. Relax into accepting ‘what is’ allows us to cope with ‘what is’. 

 

Develop Mental Calmness

Remembering with gratitude the good that was when facing current irreversible loss.  When no longer able to work, “This was a productive and satisfying career that last 20 years”. When friendships fall away, “This was a loving friendship that nourished me for 25 years”. When no longer able to travel or visit others, “This was a body that was illness-free long enough to raise my children attend their weddings, teach and encourage others, and keep my husband company. Embrace ‘what is’ without losing ‘what was’.

 

Redefine Perspective

Losing steady companionship of friends and family can be on of the greatest losses of chronic illness. Recognizing and taking pleasure in a new-found, if un-chosen, time to read, listen to music, develop new hobbies and pastime you slighted or ignored.

 

Develop Wise Inaction

The chronically ill need permission to stop doing things that make symptoms of the illness worse: do daily activities as energy and discomfort allows you, know when to stop activities and involvement with others, listen to and respect your body, and always know when to stop any activity. Let go of multi-tasking and relishing doing one task at a time, one moment at a time, brings ease rather than guilt and pain.

 

May these thoughts be useful to you and yours, in times of good health as well as poor health.

 

Structuring Activities for Love Ones with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

 

A person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia doesn’t have to give up the activities that they love. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, many activities can be modified to the person’s ability. This will not only enhance their quality of life but will reduce their behaviors like wandering and agitation.

In the early stages of dementia, the person may withdraw from activities they previously enjoyed. It is important to help them remain engaged. Having an open discussion around any concerns and making slight adjustments can make a difference.

As Alzheimer’s progresses, you may need to make other adjustments to the activity. These are a few tips you may use:

When choosing activities consider these ideas.

  • Keep the person’s skill and abilities in mind.
  • Pay special attention to what the person enjoys.
  • Consider if the person begins activities without direction.
  • Be aware of physical problems.
  • Focus on enjoyment – not achievement.
  • Encourage involvement in daily life.
  • Relate to past work life.
  • Look for favorites.
  • Consider time of day.
  • Adjust activities to disease stages.

 

 When choosing an approach consider these ideas.

  • Is help needed in getting the activity started?
  • Offer support and supervision.
  • Concentrate on the process, not the result.
  • Be flexible.
  • Assist with difficult parts of the tasks.
  • Let the individual know they are needed.
  • Stress a sense of purpose.
  • Avoid criticism or correcting the person.
  • Encourage self-expression.
  • Involve the person through conversation.
  • Substitute an activity for a behavior.
  • Try again later.

 

 

 

Try Laughter!!!

Laughter is the new source for overcoming and dealing with some of the difficult life situations. Try this exercise provided by this successful international group. 

The Clowns Without Borders website shares many stories from their many projects around the world.

 

EXERCISE:

Here is help using the physicality of laughter to promote your own emotional, mental and relational well being. 
 

A 15 Minute Laughing Meditation created by Dhyan Sutorious
 
Do this with at least one other person, if you can.  Find a quiet, secluded place where you can sit together comfortably.  "If you feel a little shy, laugh with your shyness.  Respect your limits: you do not have to achieve anything at all."
 


 

PREPARATION: 
Stand to stretch, legs solidly planted. Stretch your muscles as you exhale, relax briefly as you inhale. Repeat this a few times as you reach over your head. You may also use your right hand to pull your left arm over your ear; and vice versa. Loosen your fingers by pulling them gently back with the other hand (repeat with each hand.)  Stretch your facial muscles by making funny faces and grimaces... without laughing. 
 


 

LAUGH: 
Smile; then slowly, without forcing yourself, laugh with a relaxed throat. Laugh softly at first, then louder until you're bellowing heartily from your belly. Don't force anything. Allow it to happen.    

 "Every second of your attention should be directed at what presents itself to you at that moment: laugh or cry with it or be silent.  The essence is being aware, accepting, and letting go.  The moment you totally accept the situation, the other person or yourself, you can laugh with it." (In the final minute of the meditation, close your eyes and continue to laugh.)
 


RELEASE: 
With your eyes closed, slowly stop laughing and breathe quietly without sound.  Each time you notice you're thinking of something, let the thought go and focus your attention on your body breathing.  Whatever you are feeling, notice it, allow it, and accept it.  Rest in ease. 


Let me know if this works for you or not.

Take care, enjoy and laugh!!!

Caregiver Tips and Pitfalls

Recently, a friend shared his family caregiver experiences with me. He described occasions that represented true chaos for him as he dealt with doctors, attorneys, financial institutions and others. There was a combination of misinformation, poor communication, and a lack of concern for the loved one and their assets. As he shared his dilemma, I thought of many others who probably are having similar experiences. These situations may be avoided with knowledge and early preparation for the tasks that lie ahead, along with open communication with the loved one, family members and professional advisors. Before you have similar chaotic experiences, review the following tips and pitfalls for direction in your caregiving encounter. I hope these tactics will ensure that you have a compassionate and successful caregiver experience.

 

Tip: Spend upfront time with a reputable attorney and/or financial planner to ensure that your loved ones’ estate plan is in order understood by all relevant individuals.

Pitfall: The lack of a well-thought-out plan can contribute to confusion, an inability to fulfill the loved ones’ wishes and, depending on the size of the estate, risk significant financial loss.

Tip: Ensure that the appropriate legal documents - Power of Attorney, Healthcare Directives and Living Will are executed early during your tenure as a caregiver.

Pitfall: Without these documents you will not be able to communicate with medical and legal professionals on behalf of your loved one.

Tip: Carefully analyze all housing options (e.g., In-home, Assisted Living, Nursing Home, etc.) for your loved one before the need arises.

Pitfall: Being out of sync with the level of assistance required by your loved one can lead to injury of the loved one, a resistance by the loved one to progress to the appropriate facility, and the inability to determine level and cost of outside help.

Tip: Plan your own respite needs.

Pitfall: Many caregivers become ill themselves because they are stressed out, do not eat and exercise properly, and do not request help from family, friends and local agencies to assist with their caregiving tasks.

Tip: Utilize existing caregiving resources such as Stepping: A Companion and Guide for Family Caregivers by Cenetta J. Lee and Gloria F. Carr to assist in your caregiving journey.

Pitfall: Relying on your limited knowledge and anecdotal information from friends can lead to serious caregiver missteps including, misunderstanding medical professionals, being unable to recognize declining health in a loved one, and making the wrong decision about housing options.

Tip: If possible, try to know your loved one’s desire relative to final arrangements. That is, type of service, program content, funeral director, costs, etc.

Pitfall: Emotions are fragile during this time and decision-making can be conflicted as family members try to decide what is best for the loved one.

 

Are You Paying Too Much for Medicare Coverage?

The time is approaching to review your designated Medicare plan coverage. Prepare ahead so your healthcare and prescription insurance plan fits your medical and financial situation. Each state is mandated by the federal government to have an agency assisting residents with selection of the Medicare policy appropriate for them. The name of that agency varies from state to state. The mission of this department under Medicare is to offer help in deciding what Medicare insurance coverage is right for you. Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit MyMedicare.gov, for information on whom to contact for an appointment to review your health and prescription insurance needs. According to my representative, appointment times are into October so call immediately to ensure you have an appointment before the December 7th deadline. All situations are different. A husband’s illnesses and prescription needs may be different from the wife’s needs.

The State Healthy Insurance Assistance Program is the name of department in Medicare providing this service. Often, because of this name, people feel they need to be poor to use this service. As stated earlier, assistance is the help they provide you in understanding each option offered and enrolling you and your spouse in the correct Medicare Insurance plan.

For additional information visit https://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Search/Results.asp. Scroll down the page and download ID: 11220 - (Have You Done Your Yearly Medicare Plan Review?)

 

 

What Are Your Coping Mechanisms?

In "My Way of Coping" (see drop-down menu under “Components of Caregiving"), I described a typical day in my life and the activities I use to stay balanced, both mentally and physically. What do you do to ensure that you stay on course?

 

 

Aging Health Issues - Should I care?

Our life span is increasing. In the 1960s and 1970s, the life expectancy for Americans was 65-years-old. In the late 1990s and 2000s, that figure rose to 85-years-old. This reality has thrust many of us into planning not only for our old age, but also for our loved ones' aging. In many cases, people are wishing that they had focused on eldercare issues earlier. But it's never too late to start. Would you be interested in a book---featuring real-life experiences---that guides you through this critical process? Check out Stepping Up: A Companion and Guide for Family Caregiver.

 

Being Prepared to Help Aging Loved Ones

Many aging parents may have one child. Other elderly loved ones may have no children at all. In either case, a life-changing situation could cause a family dilemma, unless documents are available indicating who will make health-care decisions. In these situations, a primary person and an alternate should be chosen---in case one of them becomes unable or unwilling to serve. If this is done before an emergency occurs, everything will likely be all right. Otherwise, a family meeting should be called.

 

Use my blog to share how you've helped prepare your loved ones for the challenges that can accompany old age. If you have no direct experience, share what you've heard.

Importance of Medical History

I was in my doctor’s office today and made an interesting observation. The office was crowded with patients and their family members. In some cases there was one person accompanying the patient and in others there were multiple people. It was a long day but the experience offered me an opportunity to share with others a lesson worth learning.

One patient arrived on a stretcher accompanied by an EMS team. Two others were awaiting the arrival of a relative needing the doctor's care. I noticed family members completing medical forms on behalf of their ailing relative. In several cases, siblings were assisting each other complete the medical forms. Knowledge of the relative's medical history was unknown so they resulted in guessing some of the details. What they didn’t understand is accurate information regarding past medical history is vital to the correct and timely treatment of them or their loved one.

The lesson is we must record the medical history of our loved ones and ourselves before there is a life-changing situation. Keep a record with you of your surgeries - type of surgery and date; medical diagnosis (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) The accuracy of this information is essential, especially with the establishment of electronic medical records (EMR) that is required of all medical services by 2015. The information will follow you from one doctor and hospital to another forever.

Stepping Up: A Companion and Guide for Family Caregiver, a book I coauthored with a professor of geriatric nursing, include two forms for just this purpose. It includes a form for your personal medical history and one for your family medical history. Search this site under Stepping Up for details about the book and how to purchase copies.