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Incontinence Support Blog

The Wonderful Results of Keeping Track of Our Health

Posted by Mens Liberty

Dec 22, 2016 11:08:00 AM

Have you ever noticed how much our responsibility and our discipline increases when we have someone to share our activities with?  It’s proven!

Researchers’ report that our commitment level more than doubles when we have “Accountability Partners” keeping us accountable.  It makes sense that we do much better – even when it’s for things we enjoy!

A perfect example is my Wednesday afternoon board game group.  We all do our best to follow our commitments and be there for each other.  In fact, we start calling our members around 10 minutes before we’re supposed to start – just to make sure they’re on their way!

So let’s admit it…  For most of us, exercise is something that would be a lot more enjoyable, and certainly we’d probably be much more consistent when we have accountability partners.

Did you know that many of us may already have that “accountability partner” and we’re carrying that partner in our pockets or purses?  Yes – we do!  And there are other “accountability partners” called “wearables” – you know, those fitness bracelets we see people wearing.

Back to the ones we’re carrying in our pockets and handbags…  They’re our smart phones!  There are literally hundreds and hundreds of “apps” (programs we run on our smartphones) to help us stay motivated and to achieve better fitness and health.  They’re set up to keep track of measurements, such as the number of steps we take in a day, the total distance we’ve walked, our body weight, caloric intake and nutritional information, and much more information.  What differs is how each app displays our data, and how it keeps us motivated.

So today, we have 6 recommendations to help you stay on track with your health.

Recommendation #1 is to start with an achievable goal.  We always say that if it’s believable, then it’s achievable.  As an example, a few months ago I started swimming laps.  On my first day, I said to myself “just see what you can do without over-exerting yourself.”  I swam 4 separate 50-yard intervals in 30 minutes.  200 yards.

So I started swimming 3 times a week, and that became my baseline to build upon.  Here it is several months later, and I’m swimming 8 separate 150-yard intervals in 60 minutes, and I’ve upped my frequency to 5 times a week – quite an improvement.  From 200 yards to 1,200 yards 5 times a week.

I use my smart phone app to record and track my results, and it’s also tremendously motivating to see my progress!  And that keeps me motivated.  Now I will admit, there’s something else that keeps me motivated, and that’s the group of people I see at the lap pool.  We all encourage each other to achieve our goals!

Recommendation #2 is to create something that will keep us motivated and give us positive feedback.  I called a few friends and asked them to join my “4,000 steps-a-day challenge.”  So now we all have a healthy group competition, and since we’re using the same app, we’re sharing our results with each other!

In this case, we’re all gaining 2 forms of feedback from the challenge – first, we’re gaining more and more steps each week, and second, all of us are seeing our clothing getting looser and looser – we’re losing weight!

The better our results, the more motivated we are to keep going!

Recommendation #3 is probably obvious – we are doing a much better job understanding what we eat and drink.  I’ll admit it – counting calories can be an inconvenience.  That’s where these apps really help out. 

I made a commitment to myself to record everything I ate and drank for a week!  Are you thinking I was shocked at the end of the week?!  You bet I was!  After having it all in front of me on the app, it was easy to see where some of my choices weren’t very healthy, and I knew exactly what I’d need to cut back on.

This one recommendation has made a tremendous impact on my health, and while I don’t keep detailed records each week – I might do it for 1 week every 6 to 8 weeks, I’m getting great results.  Bottom line – I’m choosing healthier options!

Recommendation #4 – “Externalization.”  Behavioral scientists have overwhelmingly proven that when we share our goals with our respected colleagues, friends and family, we are much more likely to achieve our goals!  Well no wonder – we don’t want to be “marked absent” now, do we?  No!

Just for an idea, I’ve taken my externalization one step further (forgive the pun) – I put together a walking group, and we all walk together 5 days a week.  That way we’ve not only externalized our goals, but we’re holding each other accountable by being there with each other – a double win!  Plus – we seem to have some enjoyable discussions!

Recommendation #6 is something we understand – that healthy habits take time to lock in and take hold.  That’s why these health apps and wrist bands help us stay accountable.

And let’s face it – it took us years to get out of our former healthy state, so it’s probably unreasonable to expect for our old habits to magically disappear.  The best advice I can give is to BE PATIENT.

Finally, a bonus recommendation:  Share your data with your doctors.  If there’s one thing our doctors LOVE to hear, it’s that we’re taking measures to be our best and healthiest!  So just get an app or a fitness bracelet, and KEEP MOVING – one step at a time!

Topics: Caregiving, Health Literacy

Taking Control

Posted by Caleb Bartlett

Dec 8, 2016 11:07:30 AM

As with any traumatic injury or debilitating illness it can feel like one has lost control of one’s life. A seemingly endless stream of doctors, therapists, aides, social workers, insurance workers, and more march through your life almost daily. It’s easy to feel vulnerable, at their mercy, and without options, especially if you have lost a job or given up a career.

 

Some of you reading this may have children and find yourself in a situation where you are limited in your ability to physically interact with them. Maybe you depend on government for Medicaid or other programs for assistance and the current uncertainties are causing fear and anxiety. These situations can wear heavy and often result in feelings of hopelessness and depression.

I have been in a wheelchair for 22 years. If you’re reading this and I just described your life, you’re not alone, I know exactly how you feel. I have lived it myself. However, I have also had the privilege of navigating my way through these intense changes and finding a balance in the chaos. You are not powerless. There are ways you can take charge of your life. This month I’ve made a list five things you can put into practice right away that can bring long-term stability.

  1. Take Property Inventory- Get out a piece of paper, use the computer, whatever works. Make a list of the things in your life mentally, emotionally, and physically that have been affected. Now study that list objectively. What can you change with little effort? What can you change, but will take hard work? Write both of those on a second list. Discard the first list. Now take the second list and ask yourself… What can I change by being positive? What can I talk to counselor about? How can I share this with my family or spouse? Work from the inside out. You don’t need a doctor or to go to a gym to work on the mind and heart. When you get to the physical stuff go to the second step.
  2. Explore the Alternatives- What physical issues can you become proactive about? What medications can be changed or substituted with vitamins and supplements. What does changes in your diet do? Fresh air? Activity and exercise? Even just getting out to the park, beach, or a movie can have a huge effect. In pain? Some doctors will prescribe medical massage. Consult a Homeopath or Naturopath. Research new technologies and trends. Even a better cushion or adjusting your chair can do huge things.
  3. Assess Your Skills- What can you do? Can you use a computer? Drive? What do you know? Who do you know? How can you harness these assets into income or starting a business? Consider going back to school or learning something you can do. Everyone can do something!
  4. Build A Network- We live in the information age. Get online, use the forums and discussion groups. Tell your story and get others support and input. Share ideas. Don’t be ashamed to ask for advice or help. Everybody had to start somewhere. Do unto others! If it’s in your power to call in a favor on behalf of someone else, do it. Start putting out a reputation as a helpful, generous person, and see what comes back your way.
  5. Quiet Your Mind- Take a few minutes every day and turn off the TV, the radio, the internet, and the phone. Sit quietly and just relax. Face your fears and dismiss them. The answers will come.

Life is a complex thing, and I sure don’t have all the answers. I do believe with determination, a little effort, and dedication we can turn these tragedies into good.

 

Thanks for reading.

Topics: Caregiving, prostate cancer, Health Literacy

Caregivers Guide – Helping Our Loved Ones with Cancer

Posted by Phoebe Ezell

Nov 18, 2016 12:09:00 PM

It’s no secret that many of our Men’s Liberty clients have suffered from cancer – typically prostate cancer.  And as a result of their treatment, they’ve encountered issues with incontinence.

As we speak with men every day about the solutions and the results that the Men’s Liberty device provides, it’s quite common that we hear the deep appreciation that these men have for their caregivers. 

In fact, probably the most common statement is “I believe it’s been harder on my wife and my family – my caregivers.”

Taking care of our beloved friends and family members can be challenging.  In the process, it will test our patience, our flexibility, our strength, and yes – even our loving heart.  Providing care can also be very rewarding and fulfilling.

We also receive calls from caregivers, and one call stands out in our memory.  She said that taking care of her husband reminded her of her 4-year-old dog.  It seems that for the first 2½ years of having their dog, he just couldn’t master potty training.

Every time she turned around, the puppy had piddled (or worse) on the floor.  But the love and the joy and the happiness that his little smiling face and wagging tail brought to the family overcame all the hundreds of times she considered taking him to the pet adoption center!

In other words, maintaining balance takes finesse.

The social psychologists have broken down the process of caregiving into the 3 stages of the cancer process.

Stage 1 – Diagnosis.

Many times caregivers notice that something is “different” even before their loved ones do.  Typically that begins with encouraging him to get it checked out.

Probably the most difficult day in the process is when the doctor says he has cancer.  That’s when most caregivers jump into action, providing support, asking questions and helping process the news.

And that’s the day that caregivers adjust their days and nights for the responsibilities that lie ahead.

Prepare to:

  • Be present – physically and emotionally
  • Allow him to talk and share that he’s afraid
  • Listen and acknowledge his fears
  • DO NOT say that “everything will be fine”
  • Let him know he is not alone
  • Take notes during medical appointments
  • Listen to the recommendations
  • Don’t hesitate to rely on social workers, spiritual advisors and other professionals

Other considerations:

  • Discuss how you’ll report the news to family, friends, and work
  • Ask family members to pitch in and help
  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF TOO!! You’re not going to be much help if you wear yourself into a frazzle
  • Make it a point to ask yourself – who can YOU turn to when you feel overwhelmed or alone

Phase 2 – Treatment

  • Accompany him to chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments
  • Help him feel comfortable while receiving treatments
  • Bring something to keep yourself occupied – a book or your laptop
  • Continue to take notes of anything pertinent to the treatments
  • If you notice any changes in him, report them to your medical team
  • Don’t forget to seek help from friends and family when you need a break
  • Manage all paperwork for medical leave, insurance issues, finances, etc. (know there are community agencies to help – talk to a social worker)
  • Not easy to do, but begin to discuss advance care planning – Discuss his values, goals and wishes and talk through the options
  • Encourage to completion of an advance directive, which ensures that his wishes are clearly documented
  • Again – maintain balance for yourself!

Stage 3 – If Recurrence

If recurrence occurs, it’s normal for most men to feel anger, resentment, sadness and fear.  This is the time to provide as much emotional support as possible

  • Allow time to adjust back into the caregiving role
  • If requested, help him explore potential treatment options, including accompanying him on appointments

Caring for a loved one can really be emotionally and physically exhausting, but as we began this discussion – it can also be tremendously rewarding and fulfilling.  Many people find new meaning and purpose in their lives, as well as great renewal, reconnecting and deepening in their relationships.

You may be surprised to hear, but we actually have a lot of caregivers who call us looking for solutions!  Their hearts are broken seeing their loved ones wearing diapers and pads, getting skin rashes and lesions, and worse yet, wearing catheters, fighting urinary tract infections and hospital visits as a result of infections…

And worse yet, the effects of diapers and pads – men not leaving the home due to odors and leakage.  As a result of all the horrible side effects from other incontinence products, caregivers are searching for the best solutions and attempting to help their loved ones regain their freedom!

That’s exactly what Men’s Liberty does, and it’s easily the number 1 thing we hear from our dedicated and loyal fans – they’ve regained their independence and freedom and they’re back being active with friends and family, and enjoying life to the fullest!

Approaching caregiving with patience, humor, love and humility will most likely give you great pride and honor in the role you played.

We honor your commitment and acknowledge how both challenging and rewarding caregiving can truly be.  We are here for you and with you, and thank you for your tremendous love and commitments!

Topics: Caregiving, prostate cancer, Health Literacy

Six Ways Technology Can Make Caregiving Easier

Posted by Mens Liberty

Nov 3, 2015 11:00:00 AM


Welcome back! If you’re like me, technology plays a big role in your life that it didn’t have ten or fifteen years ago.

But technology, thus far, has made only modest contributions to supporting caregivers, the legions of family members and friends who help sustain elderly, disabled, sick and recovering patients.

With that in mind, the National Alliance for Caregiving recently brought together a panel of national experts and government officials to identify ways technology can improve and advance the field. I’m thrilled to be able to share this info with you here today.

The panel examined how technology can play a more meaningful role in helping caregivers, and how innovation can be accelerated to develop new applications to support caregivers.



The group offered six recommendations:

  1. Find more appropriate language to describe the varied and complex caregiving landscape. The report said widely held but simplistic perspectives on caregiving impede needed innovations. Good models of caregiving and appropriate language are needed to enable a better understanding of caregiving and to catalyze innovation.

  2. Continue to collect extensive data about the prevalence, burden, and impact of caregiving and the role of technology. There is a lack of research on family caregivers, especially as technology dramatically impacts caregiving. More current, thorough and accurate data is needed about the diversity of caregiver roles and responsibilities, about what daily caregiving involves, its challenges, and how much it impacts those around the caregiver. Such data is necessary to develop business plans and evaluate solutions.

  3. Initiate a broad national conversation on caregiving. A national discussion is necessary to raise consciousness of caregiving issues and its social and economic impacts, and to explore what kinds of responses are necessary and feasible. Entrepreneurs will be much more inclined to develop new approaches if there is widespread attention on the topic.

  4. Develop compelling business cases for employers and healthcare providers to support caregiving. Employers and healthcare institutions are ideally positioned to help family caregivers. But they require clear business plans to justify their taking action.

  5. Provide caregiving coaching as an integral component of all solutions. Caregivers often lack the time to learn about technologies that may be useful to them. Coaches who are knowledgeable about available technologies and can take the time to understand each family’s unique situation would make it possible for caregivers to get the full benefits of technology solutions.

  6. Inspire social conversations about caregiving to encourage more learning and support within families and communities. Most caregivers work in isolation that not only deprives them of emotional support from others, but also means that people do not learn from each other’s experiences and knowledge. New ways need to be developed to make conversations about caregiving more normal and less taboo.


These are some great suggestions! Technology has the potential to make caregiving much easier and effective. It can be particularly useful by helping them to coordinate the demanding tasks and the complex networks of relationships involved with caring for others.

If you’re like me, you know that these common sense recommendations are a great way to start supporting caregivers. So count me in!

Regain Your Freedom Today!


 

Topics: family, Caregiving

Celebrating National Family Caregivers Month

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Nov 17, 2014 4:04:25 PM

This month in honor of National Family Caregivers Month, we have been proud to partner with Today's Caregiver! So check out our new Cost of Caregiving for Incontinence Infographic and click here to listen to their audio interview with Men's Liberty Chief Strategy Officer, Wendy LaTorre.

 

InfoGraphic

Topics: Caregiving

A Not-To-Do List For Caregivers of the Chronically Ill

Posted by Mens Liberty

Feb 13, 2014 2:30:00 PM

I read a lot of articles and blog posts on caregiving, however, it is rare that I come across an article that is written to caregivers from a patients perspective. The post I bring you today is written byToni Bernhard, who has published two books and is cared for by her husband (who is also named Tony). If you enjoy this article, I would suggest checking out her website as well. Enjoy the read!

Orange Line

In August 2013, I posted “A Not-To-Do List for the Chronically III. It led me to turn my attention to those who take care of us. In a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, “Quality of life: impact of chronic illness on the partner,” JRSM, v. 94 (11) Nov. 2001, the authors stated:

…the most striking research finding is a tendency for the partner’s quality of life to be worse than that of the patient.

The people who are least likely to be surprised by this finding are not just caregivers, but those who are in their care. The study focused on partners and spouses, but I'm certain that the finding would be the same when the relationship of caregiver and “cared-for” is parent/child, child/parent, sibling/sibling… or a host of other relationships.

From my own personal experience, as well as from feedback from others, I’ve learned a lot about the life of a caregiver (called “carers” in most countries other than the U.S.). If you’re a caregiver, here is my Not-To-Do list for you.

1. DO NOT shy away from sharing with others that you’ve become a caregiver.

The reluctance to tell others about this life-changing, high stress event is particularly prevalent among men. They’re likely to hide it at work. They often hide it from their friends. It’s a sad commentary on our culture that we still haven’t found a way to make men feel comfortable sharing with others that, when they’re at home, they’re taking care of a partner, a sibling, a parent, or a grown child. They’re doing the cooking and the cleaning; they’re running all the  errands; they may even be providing nursing-type assistance.

The consequence of caregivers hiding their role is that people who’d be willing to help don’t even know that help is needed. Not only can this lead to caregiver burn-out, it also helps account for why caregivers have a high incidence of clinical depression. The National Family Caregiving Association found that over 60% of caregivers who provide at least 20 hours of caregiving a week suffer from depression.

If you’re a caregiver, I hope you’ll talk to others about your life. If you’re the one being cared for, encourage your caregiver to share with others the difficulties he or she is facing. No one benefits from a caregiver “going it alone.” It may take only one friend to make a significant difference in a caregiver’s life: one friend whom he or she can confide in and talk to about how stressful and difficult life has become; one friend whom he or she can ask for help and support. “Troubles shared are troubles halved” is one of those good clichés.

2. DO NOT pretend that everything is like it used to be; you need time to grieve the loss of your old life.

Many people (including myself) have written about the need for the chronically ill—including those in chronic pain—to go through the same type of grieving process that’s triggered by other life-disrupting events, such as the break-up of a relationship or the death of a loved one.

If you're a caregiver, you need time to grieve too.

The drastic change in your life can be a shock. One day you were free to go out whenever you wanted and hang out with whomever you wanted. The next day, you were tied to the house and expected to understand how to take care of someone who may need help with the most intimate of life functions. Our culture does a poor job of prepare people for this very real possibility. (An estimated 45 million people in the U.S. alone are caregivers for elderly relatives or the chronically ill.)

In addition to grieving the loss of freedom, you may be mourning the loss of the relationship you once had with the person you're caring for. In my life, except when we were at our respective jobs, my husband (also named Tony) and I used to do almost everything together. Now when he goes out, he almost always goes out alone.

This past Christmas, Tony went to a holiday party—by himself. He rarely goes to these events anymore, but the couple who were hosting it issued a special invitation to him, so he went. He saw people from our smallish town whom he hadn’t seen for years. This is the type of event that would have been fun for us to “compare notes” about afterward. Instead, when he got home, he told me who was there and how they’d all asked how I was doing (a question that, once answered, tends to be a conversation killer, even though people ask with the best of intentions).

Pretending that everything is like it used to be doesn’t work: caregivers need time to mourn the loss of their old life and to adjust to their new one.

3. DO NOT attempt to be Super Caregiver.

Let yourself have “bad” days when, even though you’re doing what needs to be done for the person you care for, your heart isn’t in it and you wish you were free of the obligation and the burden. Don’t feel guilty if resentment arises now and then. Like everyone else in this life, you’re going to have good days and bad days.

On the flip side, don’t feel guilty when you have a good time. Be on the alert for that Super Caregiver mentality that has you thinking you’re not an adequate caregiver unless you’re giving the person in your care 100% of your attention and unless you’re sure never to have more fun than he or she is having.

Speaking personally, I want Tony to have a good time. It makes me feel less bad about the drastic change in his life and about the responsibilities he’s had to take on. As an added bonus, it makes me happy to know he’s having fun. Buddhists call this mudita—feeling joy for other people who are happy. It’s a practice to cultivate, and a wonderful side-effect ofmudita is that feeling happy for Tony often boomerangs, meaning it comes back at me so that I begin to feel happy myself, as if I’m having a good time through him.

A few weeks ago, he took our granddaughter, Cam, to see the Harlem Globetrotters. When I was growing up, my dad took me to see the Globetrotters whenever they came to town, so it would have been a treat for me to take Cam. But I couldn’t, so Tony did. My choice was to beenvious and resentful—or to be happy for Tony. I chose the latter. And so, throughout the afternoon, I imagined the two of them in their seats—Tony pointing out a dribbling sleight-of-hand that Cam might have missed, both of them laughing at the Globetrotters' antics just as I had. The result was that I felt joy myself, especially knowing that my caregiver was having a good time.

4. DO NOT be reluctant to share your challenges and difficulties with the person in your care.

Of course, every relationship is different, but sharing your struggles with the person you’re caring for can make the two of you closer, despite the many changes in your lives together.

Many caregivers are reluctant to share their difficulties for fear of making the person in their care feel worse. But sharing your struggles and even your sorrows can make the “cared for” person feel as if he or she is giving you emotional support. As a result, not only will you get that support, but the person you’re caring for will feel as if he or she is contributing to the well-being of the relationship. In addition, there may be important issues, such as financial constraints, that badly need to be talked about in order to avoid harder times down the road.

5. DO NOT become isolated yourself even if the person you care for is housebound.

Caregivers are often as isolated as the person they’re taking care of. If this is the case for you, consider asking someone to step in for part of a day so you can do something for yourself. Many communities have programs that provide this kind of support. In my town, there’s an organization called Citizens Who Care. They have a program called Time Off for Caregivers. Volunteers visit people’s houses for the specific purpose of allowing a caregiver to go out for a while.

There are also online support groups for caregivers that can go a long way toward easing isolation. Here are two organizations that can help: Family Caregiver Alliance,http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/home.jsp, and Empowering Caregivers, http://www.care-givers.com/. Connecting with others in this way benefits both you and the person you’re caring for, because it puts you in touch with others who understand the challenges you’re facing. Not only can this uplift your spirits and renew your commitment, it can also provide valuable information that will make it easier for you to carry out your responsibilities.

6. DO NOT neglect your own health.

You can’t be an effective a caregiver if you don’t care for yourself physically and emotionally. Ignoring your own physical and mental health can negatively impact both you and the person you’re caring for.

Caring for yourself is part of being a good caregiver for another.

© 2014 Toni Bernhard www.tonibernhard.com

Thank you for reading my work. My most recent book is titled How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow.

I'm also the author of the award-winning How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers

SOURCE: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/turning-straw-gold/201401/not-do-list-caregivers-the-chronically-ill

Topics: Caregiving

Not Dead Yet

Posted by Mens Liberty

Jan 29, 2014 1:30:00 PM

This week I have another blog to share, brought to you by Judy Oppenheimer. This was originally posted on Slate.com and the article discusses aging as a baby boomer and the stigma that can come with aging.

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The Internet is awash these days with stories about aging parents—suffering, terminal, demented, irritating, just plain old old parents. How difficult it is to care for them, how to evaluate nursing homes, how to broach important subjects like wills, funerals, power of attorney, DNR, so on into the night. A recent articleurged people to use the holiday season to bring up these matters—after all, Mom and Dad will be right there, presumably eager to hear what plans you’ve made for their imminent collapse/demise.

OK. It makes a certain amount of sense. Baby boomer issues have had a stranglehold on the media for the past 60 years or so. There are a lot of us, and now we are aging. And dealing with aging parents can cause difficulties, true enough; it can be comforting to hear how others have handled these situations.

Comforting, that is, for those who have aging parents. Not always all that comforting to the aging parents themselves.

As a member of this latter group, I have drawn up a few pointers I’d like to share with everyone out there whose parents have managed somehow to get beyond 65, 70, 75, even further. Things to keep in mind:

We’re not dead yet. Most of us aren’t even that out of it. There is a certain facial  expression many of us start seeing in our adult children around the time we hit 65. It involves a faint tilt of the head, accompanied by an intense, pained stare, not unlike that caused by a sudden gastro attack. I’ve named it the “uh-oh, she’s starting to lose it” look. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re either lucky or haven’t been paying enough attention (or are losing it). Nearly anything can bring it on: a mispronounced name, a forgotten date.

Undoubtedly, this look is a direct effect of all the attention given to the aging-parent problem lately. Recently a certain statistic has made the rounds, and it’s unquestionably a scary one: Fifty percent of all people over 85 are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. If that’s scary to you, dear children, think of how scary it is to us! But also remember the other 50 percent—those not developing Alzheimer’s. And those of us in our 70s who aren't part of that stat and don't need it forwarded to us, thanks. You too forget your keys now and then.

Other things, too, can bring on the look. Being less knowledgeable than one’s children about current cultural references, for instance. True, we may be unclear on which Kardashian sister is which, or even worse, what the point of knowing this is—but this does not mean we’re losing it. Same goes for our iPad learning curve. We were fully grown when the technology revolution roared into being. So, admittedly, it may take us longer to learn how to use some of the most popular tools of the day. (Though many of us have discovered that Google can be a senior’s best friend when it comes to memory, 18 percent of us are wedded to our smartphones, and way more are on Facebook). Does our lack of tech savvy bother you? Ha. Just ask yourself who is more at ease with everything tech out there today—you or your 4-year-old? And realize, while you’re at it, that you are NEVER going to be as at ease with all this stuff as your 4-year-old. And that’s just now: Imagine how hard it’s going to be to master all the new tech marvels coming down the road. That sound you hear in the background will be us, your parents, chuckling from the great beyond. Or possibly the next room.

Now, the grandkids. Too many of you assume we know nothing, as befits anyone on their way out, about raising children. One of my friends raised three of them, and is a pediatric nurse practitioner who operated a wellness clinic, and served as a professor at two medical schools. She is, however, 70, so how can she know anything about babies? Once when she was attempting to calm her crying 6-month-old grandson, she flipped on the TV to distract him. It worked immediately—but a few minutes later she heard a key in the door. She nearly wrenched her back trying to get the TV turned off before her son and daughter-in-law got inside. Because all TV is bad for babies, no matter what or when.

It’s not that I don’t trust the studies that say this. It’s just that we did things differently raising you because that was how it was done back then, and because for the most part, everyone does it the way it’s being done at the time. It takes a highly unusual person to forge her own path, make her own rules, particularly when it comes to child rearing, and most of us weren’t that unusual. We put our babies to sleep on their stomachs, let them bike without helmets, strapped them into poorly made car seats, and even worse, occasionally had a glass of wine while they were still in utero. We used white bread, and tuna fish and hot dogs and took everyone to McDonald’s. Horrifying, I know. We’re perfectly willing to learn today‘s rules and apply them to our precious grandchildren, whom, you undoubtedly have realized, we adore beyond measure. We understand the reasons behind the new guidelines. But it would be nice if you would realize we did the best we could back then according to the information of the day—exactly like you’re doing now—instead of giving us the “you did what?” routine. Who knows, there may even be more information and different rules coming down the pike that will affect your own grandchildren. You too may someday hear that sharp intake of breath that comes when a grown child realizes exactly how much jeopardy you put them in when they were growing up. I won’t even get into some of the stuff our own parents did. 

But there are signs of hope. At a recent toddler get-together I attended, one little guy stumbled and fell, receiving a sizeable bump on his forehead. Amid all the hysterical fuss, I did what I would have done long ago—quickly prepared a cold compress. Later the mother told me she had seen how unexcited I was and instantly relaxed. “I knew then it wasn’t serious,” she said. Her tone was matter-of-fact, so I just nodded. I never let her know she’d made my day.

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Judy Oppenheimer is the author of Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson. She has written for the Washington Post Magazine, Washingtonian, and Salon.

Source:  Slate.com

Topics: family, Caregiving

How to Survive as the Primary Caregiver

Posted by Mens Liberty

Jan 22, 2014 1:00:00 PM

Hello everyone, today I have a new article brought to you by guest blogger, Jeff Anderson, who writes for assistedliving.com. We are pleased to have him contributing to our blog and giving you some new information on how to live a more fullfilling, healthy life as a primary caregiver. Check out Jeff's article below!

Orange Line

Caregiving is tough, and the price of taking on the load that comes with taking care of a loved one is steep, not only financially, but also in terms of your own health. Caregivers suffer from higher rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, depression, and diabetes than non-caregivers. This is due to a number of factors, but essentially boils down to the fact that caregivers are consistently under a lot of stress while lacking the time to form healthy habits. Here are a few ways to help you manage your health without abandoning your loved one.

Sharing the Load

The biggest preventable stressor for a caregiver is simply not having enough time in the day. Living your own life while also at least partially managing another adult’s life while working (as many caregivers do) is simply too much. It leaves us eating stale Doritos in the car instead of having lunch, and getting home late in the evening to find spouses and children already in bed, making us feel as though we’re leaving half of our daily to-do list undone.

There is no magical do-everything solution to this, you need to get help. Though most elderly people with disabilities have multiple children and friends and extended family that could provide help, the responsibility will usually settle on just one person: you. The only way to share the load is to contact those people and delegate specific responsibilities to them. Many of us are afraid to have someone else step in, thinking that our loved one will feel abandoned, but it’s important to remember that there are other people that your loved one should interact with as well, and who have a vested interest in their well-being.

Taking Breaks

Once you’ve freed up a little bit of time in your day, you should make an effort to take care of yourself. Go out and exercise, take the time to eat well, and sit down and relax for the occasional break. Allowing yourself to de-stress for a moment can help you manage your blood pressure, and reduce your risk for a variety of stress-related illnesses. Also, creative pursuits like painting, or poetry, can help you work through the stress and emotional toll that caregiving takes.

Going to the Doctor

Regularly visit the doctor, and heed your physician’s advice. One of the most common reasons that caregivers place their loved ones into assisted living care is because of their own declining health. Taking the time to actively monitor your health and address possible issues will maximize the duration that you’ll be able to care for your loved one, and help to prevent or delay a future where your own children will need to do the same for you.

Nurturing Other Relationships

Go and spend time with your spouse, children, and friends. Being a caregiver does not obligate you to neglect or dissolve your other relationships, and allowing that to happen can further complicate your life. Not only can your friends and immediate family provide personal support, but they can help you to care for your loved one better. Additionally it gives you and your loved one more to talk about than your stress and their illness, which will improve both of your stress levels.

Making sure that you are a happy and healthy person will make you a better caregiver for your loved one, and will ensure that you remain able to help out as long as possible.

Jeff Anderson writes for assistedliving.com about caregiving, aging, and senior issues.

Topics: Caregiving

7 Ways To Transform Caregiving From Burden To Opportunity

Posted by Mens Liberty

Jan 7, 2014 2:00:00 PM

Today I have an article I found while browsing through google news. The author is Kathy Caprino of Forbes.com. The article highlights 7 unique ways you can transform caregiving from a burder to an opporunity. Now I will admit that up to this point in my life I have never been a caregiver, however, I think that the tips Kathy offers would come in handy to current or future caregivers.

Orange Line

Observing my mother through her tireless caregiving of my father during his hospice care in the last months of his life, I saw first-hand the enormous toll it takes on loved ones to care for the elderly and those in declining health.

According to estimates from the National Alliance for Caregiving, during the past year, 65.7 million Americans (or 29 % of the adult U.S. adult population involving 31 percent of all U.S. households) served as family caregivers for an ill or disabled relative.

In a report issued by the National Alliance for Caregiving, almost three-quarters of family caregivers of people age 50 or older, work while they are caring for the family member or friend, and nearly 70% of them make some kind of workplace accommodation — coming in late, leaving early, reducing work hours, taking a leave of absence, choosing early retirement.

Employees providing eldercare are more likely to report fair or poor health in general. For example, among female employees ages 50 and older, 17% of caregivers reported fair or poor health compared to 9% of non-caregivers. Among men ages 18 to 39 and women ages 40 to 49, caregivers were also more likely than non-caregivers to report lower health ratings.

Female employees with eldercare responsibilities reported more stress at home than non-caregivers in every age group. Stress at home appears to affect younger female caregivers most frequently. Caregivers were more likely to report negative influences of personal life on their work.

Given the toll caregiving takes and the growing number of people affected in years to come, the care and well-being of the caregiver must be addressed in new and more effective ways.

To learn more about how caregiving can be transformed from burden to opportunity, I caught up with Anthony Cirillo, President of Fast Forward Consulting, an international healthcare consulting firm, and recognized expert in assisted living and hospital patient experience.

Anthony offers 7 key ways that the stresses and burdens of caregiving can be lessened. Here is a start:

1. Shift your mindset

Caregiving doesn’t have to be a negative, draining experience that turns your life upside down. Caregiving can also be a special opportunity to give back, and create a closer, deeper personal bond with the individual you care for. To experience it as an opportunity rather than a burden, a change in mindset is required, as is a new focus on what you can learn and how you can grow in a positive way through the experience. For a start, there are 8 traits of elders experiencing a high quality of life that we all can learn from, and embrace.

These traits are:

  • Have purpose
  • Stay active
  • Laugh every day
  • Learn something new
  • Nurture friendships
  • Foster a positive attitude
  • Be grateful
  • Demonstrate love

2. Connect with helpful online resources

There are numerous apps that can help you on your caregiver journey. Elder 411 offers over 500 pieces of expert advice organized around 11 categories. Involve Care helps you organize your caregiving activities and share them with family and friends who want to help. Use the app to request assistance and volunteer for activities to help everyone you care for live better. Add appointments, post requests, involve others. Tonic — Winner of “Best Mobile Health Solution for Behavior Change” at the Mobile Health 2011: What Really Works! conference held at Stanford University — helps you keep track of everything in your health regimen, making it easier to take care of yourself and everyone else in your family. You set the agenda—perhaps advised by your doctors, family and friends—while Tonic helps you remember, track and organize. Caregiver’s Touch is a subscription-based app that keeps critical information at your fingertips and allows you to safely and seamlessly share it with others. Use Caregiver’s Touch to enter, update and store a broad range of important data you need to care for your loved one, such as a parent’s insurance provider and medication regimen. Then download the iPhone application to keep this information with you wherever you are.

3. Get community support to ease the burden

The Caregiver Relief Fund provides vouchers for at-home respite care. Vouchers for professional at-home care services are donated or purchased on behalf of the Caregiver Relief Fund. They award these vouchers to caregivers, giving them time to address their personal needs and financial resources to invest in their own well being. They select individuals who have been in a caregiving role for a chronically ill individual, elder or disabled person for 12 months or longer. Applicants must not have an annual income that exceeds $80,000. Lotsa Helping Hands powers online caring communities that help restore health and balance to caregivers’ lives. The service brings together caregivers and volunteers through online communities that organize daily life during times of medical crisis or caregiver exhaustion in neighborhoods and communities worldwide. Caregivers benefit from the gifts of much needed help, emotional support, and peace of mind, while volunteers find meaning in giving back to those in need.

4. Join a powerful coalition

ReAct is a coalition of corporations and organizations dedicated to addressing the challenges faced by employee caregivers and reducing the impact on the companies that employ them. The coalition and its members are dedicated to increasing awareness, understanding and action around issues faced by employee caregivers by: 1) developing data and research to improve understanding and quantifying impact, 2) identifying and sharing best practices, and 3) showcasing employer successes. ReACT seeks to support a business environment where the challenges faced by caregivers’ juggling the demands of both work and caregiving for an adult with a chronic age-related disease are understood and recognized by employers. Measures can then be taken to provide support and resources that employees need to better meet their personal responsibilities for caregiving and their professional demands.

5. Access all available benefits

A 2010 Gallup survey found that approximately two-thirds of caregivers spend more than 5 days per month handling errands and day-to-day tasks related to caregiving. High stress, changing schedules, and competing demands can be challenging to a working caregivers’ lifestyle and well being. Not surprisingly, this same survey found that the majority of caregivers say that caregiving has at least some impact on their performance at work.

The 2012 report Best Practices In Workplace Eldercare issued by ReAct in conjunction with other partners reveals the following best practice trends among employers:

• Reliance on technology—intranet and web services—to provide an array of informational and support services to employees and to market existing services and benefits.

• A move away from the “full-service” work-family vendor who provides a comprehensive array of workplace eldercare services to eldercare programs provided by more than one vendor.

• Paid time off is an important part of the menu of programs for most of the study’s employers. Most of the employers had flexible approaches to time off.

• Resource and referral services continue to be at the center of eldercare programming for employees.

• Discounted back-up home care for emergency needs was a popular option for many employers.

• Geriatric care management services were offered by some of the employers.

• Help with insurance paperwork and information about Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurance policies were offered as a benefit by one employer to the employees, their parents and parent-in-laws at no charge.

Perceived benefits to the employers included reduced absenteeism, improved productivity, better retention rates, improved recruitment, reduced stress in the workplace and enhanced employee loyalty. One-third of the employers studied report that they had initiated their eldercare program in the past 5 years with most starting the program less than 3 years ago, pointing to a positive trend of more companies recognizing the vital importance of this issue.

6. When the journey is done, recover and rejuvenate

Grieve your loss. Restore yourself, and do what is necessary to recover and heal. Develop helpful rituals that offer you solace and peace, including (if it’s helpful) adhering to some of the daily traditions you started with your loved one. The site www.aftergiving.com offers resources that help caregivers adjust to life after the caregiving ends, and transition into the next stage of your life.

7. When you’re ready, give back

Share your experiences with soon-to-be caregivers, new caregivers, and experienced caregivers. Caring.com offers some great tips in giving back. Gift your time or expertise. Arrange for a one-time housecleaning for a caregiver maybe around the holidays. Prepare a meal for a caregiver and their loved one. Think about gifts the person might not otherwise buy for himself or herself.

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Topics: family, Caregiving

Coming Together - A Community for the Cure

Posted by Caleb Bartlett

Nov 26, 2013 9:17:00 AM

In 19 years it has never ceased to amaze me how much behavioral psychology is at play around Spinal Cord Injury. There are always the personal, day-to-day battles with victories and losses a person in a chair faces just living life, but one of the greatest obstacles toward complete recovery from a spinal cord injury is often the sluggish and competitive community surrounding it.

This community of patients, doctors, therapists, trainers, caregivers and family make up a fraction of the global health care landscape, but the trickle-down effect of the recent trend in medicine to be the first across the finish line has had enormous implications. Everyone is vying for being the best treatment, most effective technology, the accurate results and the one to hold the trademark that the motivation for saving lives and truly finding a cure has taken a backseat to this materialistic ideal of "Look at me and what I did."

The ones needing the cure aren't helping either. Quads are jealous of Paras cause they're more independent... the Paras are pissed caused Quads get more attention... the men resent the women cause they can get a date easier and the women are sad because men can catheterize themselves safer. You think I'm kidding, I wish I was. I've received messages from spinal cord injured people telling me I was wrong to get stem cell treatment because I might be disappointed!

My all-time favorite line is when anyone, be they an industry professional or fellow spinal cord injury, says to me "I just don't think it's a good idea cause I don't want you to get hurt." Would someone please tell me how as a society did we become so passive-aggressive then have the unmitigated gall to pat ourselves on the back and call it compassion? At the risk of this post turning into a rant let me explain why I bring this up.

In order for healing of any kind to take place whether it is mental, emotional or physical it requires an environment. Think about disease, it festers in a climate suitable for its gestation. Health is no different. Why do we wash our clothes, vacuum our floors, bathe daily and brush our teeth? We want to create a healthy place for life to flourish.

The ultimate environment for anyone to make any headway in the face of spinal cord injury whether they have received stem cells, any other radically progressive treatment or not any at all there must be an equilibrium. Yes, a healthy skepticism can be a valuable thing as long as it fosters research and an honest exchange of information, but once we lose sight of the ultimate goal and the needs of those who have been injured to make a full recovery we negate any chances of true progress. I bring this to light today because we need to get on with the business of healing. I need to get on with it and so do you. We have to create a climate for a cure.

To those of us in chairs I am putting out a call... to cut the crap. Yes, being paralyzed really, REALLY sucks. It hurts and affects every single area of our lives, but we're not alone. There's not one spinal cord injury on this planet, there are thousands. All suffering the same fears and dreaming the same dreams. Someone may have more or less than you, but we all want to walk again. We may not all achieve it the same way, but who are we to dare criticize a fellow survivor for how they choose to reach that goal?

To the doctors, trainers, and therapists... I sure love you guys, and G-d knows we're grateful, but do us and everybody else a favor... get over yourselves. Just because you are doing research, helped someone in a chair learn to transfer themselves or got them to a certain level of independence does not mean you've solved the problem. Just because a task is easier doesn't make it better. Catheterizing is still catheterizing whether you do it on your own or someone does it for you. Learn to listen, really listen. You are an outsider and respect it. You will never be able to fully understand, so don't lull yourself into thinking you do.

Finally, to all of us... whatever role you play in this quest... get on the same team. Support each other. If you want stem cells, get'em! If you just want to do therapy, do it! If you want to go holistic, vegan, Chinese herbal, shamanic, yoga, and get naked around a bonfire I say go for it and more power to you! We have to build the environment for a cure.

The cure. The cure is our mantra. The cure is the goal.

Topics: Caregiving, medical research, spinal cord injury, Spinal Cord Injury with Caleb