caregiving Tag

Are you a family caregiver? I am. In fact, With A Little Help's average staff age is 51 so several of our professional caregivers and office staff members also have family caregiving experience. Understanding both situations strengthens empathy for the natural differences in perspective of client and client's family. I originally conceived of this blog, featuring the challenges and coping mechanisms of four family caregivers, because I was curious about the issues other people encounter in family caregiving and I hoped to gain understanding that would help all readers caring for a loved one. What I found was that these narratives helped me as much in my professional caregiving career as they have in the care of my own mother. I hope you enjoy these four honest and inspiring stories. andrewAndrew Cohen, of Coho Accounting, provides care for his mother. His biggest challenge was preparing emotionally for her journey into dementia. A bright, resourceful and independent spirit, his mother learned she had Parkinson's 12 1/2 years ago but kept it in abeyance for 9 years during which Andrew was able to prepare himself for Parkinson's inevitable physical progressions.  Not all Parkinson's patients develop dementia but when Andrew's mother started experiencing symptoms it put added stress on their ability to negotiate her care and, at times, strained their communication. Where does he turn for support? "I try to remember the good times," Andrew told me. He also receives important guidance from a dear friend who is a hospice nurse and talks to friends about their own family caregiving situations...his "ad hoc support group."  Most remarkably, he founded his business, Coho Accounting, as a result of his experience with his mother's need for fiduciary support. He works now with client families going through situations similar to his own. What has he learned? Three main things: Really listen. Don't disagree with your mother (or with anyone experiencing dementia). Be willing to have difficult and honest conversations.
More than 800,000 people in Washington  are family caregivers. Nationally that number is 65 million according to the Caregiver Action Network. Yet these big numbers don't tell the whole story. Caregiving has changed. Advanced medicine and better treatments for chronic illness means that loved ones are experiencing longer lives and richer programmatic opportunities which, in turn, requires sustained caregiving lasting 5 to 10 years or more. Caregivers are being asked to manage complex medical maintenance or navigate the long term care system while simultaneously trying to keep their own lives stable and balanced. It can be overwhelming. One of the strongest caregiver support programs available nationwide is called Powerful Tools for Caregivers. "I'm one of Powerful Tools' biggest fans," social worker and Powerful Tools facilitator Carin Mack confessed. "Powerful Tools is a 6 week free intensive program that offers family caregivers the opportunity to learn new strategies for self care within a caring community," she said. Classes, held once a week, enhance caregivers' self-care, emotional balance, coping skills, and confidence. In particular, Mack noted, "The group offers ways to handle some of the most difficult emotions experienced in caregiving such as guilt, depression, anger, frustration and grief. It offers new
B. Bartja Wachtel spoke to a packed crowd of caregivers at DSHS's Giving Care, Taking Care conference. They were there to hear about what some call techniques, skills, or methods  for easing on-the-job stress, but Bartja calls them, "ways of being in the moments of suffering." Wachtel, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Mental Health Professional, and Child Mental Health Specialist, and Mindful Self-Compassion Trained Teacher led the group through sometimes moving and deeply effective meditations that can be practiced in moments of difficult feelings or in-the-moment caregiving stress. Mindfulness Self-Compassion (MSC) practices can be brief or more involved.  Do it in 3 minutes or devote your lunch break. To begin, simply settle into a comfortable position. You may have time to do a 2 minute body scan (a check in on you and where you are in the moment) or perhaps you can manage only a few deep slow breaths into the present moment. Put your hand over your heart to bring affection into your awareness if you like then continue. On a difficult day, maybe you can find 7 minutes for a  Self-Compassionate Break?  If not, Dr. Kristin Neff, researcher, co-developer of  MSC curriculum and narrator of the Self-Compassionate Break audio,  says, this can be used in the heat of the moment. It's a portable, powerful and flexible tool for managing the stress of difficult emotions.
Are you a family caregiver for someone living with Parkinson’s Disease? Do you know about the “Caregivers Day Off” program? Caregiver’s Day Off, sponsored by the Washington Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, serves families coping with Parkinson’s in King, Pierce, Snohomish, Skagit, and Island counties. With A Little Help is proud to be one of three local home health agencies trusted to support and serve Parkinson’s family caregivers through the program which sponsors 20 hours of free professional care annually.
This is the first in a series of book reviews about health, aging, and caregiving but it also marks the launch of a blog series profiling our wonderful caregivers.  In these blogs we go beyond the demographic backgrounds of our staff and invite you to gain a deeper understanding of why our caregivers choose this meaningful work and why we're proud to offer their service. Meet Ginny Moore, caregiver and author of Don't Make Lemonade; Leaning Into Life's Difficult Transitions What do we do when life gives us lemons? The reigning positivity in American culture tells us to make lemonade but author Ginny Moore, in her book Don’t Make Lemonade: Leaning Into Life’s Difficult Transitions, urges readers to “face the lemons.” In this engaging and honest book Moore portrays her challenging journey through adversity to empowerment with page turning skill. She draws universal themes around her complex personal experience and offers inspirational encouragement to readers going though loss and transition. With a trustworthy authorial voice like a wise friend Moore assures us that facing change and honestly processing emotions will lead to healing and greater understanding of our lives. This is a refreshing and validating book that I might read again---and again.