Friday, March 27, 2015
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
I've been thinking about who The Sandwich Woman is and how she differs from past generations. It's not a new story that as we age, we help our elders. It's been like that since the beginning of time. What is different now in 2015?
Not only are people living longer, we have modern medicine to prolong our lives. Sometimes that's a great thing and other times I wonder.
The traditional family has been dwindling in numbers, and has been for quite a while. Now there's a range of single parents, step parents, blended families, divorcees and people cohabiting, compared to the traditional husband - wife team.
With all this change in the world and women playing a large role in the work force, caring for an elder or a dependent child or children can add stress to one's life like never before. It's a lot to juggle and manage.
We truly are a pioneer generation in the throws of a large scale change in the family unit and aging process. We are facing uncharted territories as The Sandwich Generation. I am aware there are men who are Caregivers too. More often it is the women who is the primary Caregiver. But that doesn't change the fact that both men and women are in the role of Caregivers and part of The Sandwich Generation.
The blurred lines of the family unit with all the gray shades of variables have complicated life to a large degree. The high cost of living and health insurance haven't helped either.
During several years of Caregiving, I saw and learned things I would never have imagined. It was a lonely and isolating experience. And yet, there are millions of people in my shoes, like you, feeling like they are on an island, alone.
I'm here to listen, to share, to learn, to help and I hope to inspire and to comfort. Hang in there. You're strong. You're smart. You work hard. You are a giver. You do for others. You're kind. You care. You have a big heart and a selfless nature. It takes strength to do all that you do.
Let's stay connected. And your friends who are in midlife, walking the walk, let them know The Sandwich Woman cares.
Twitter: Carole Brecht @SanGenWoman
Friday, March 20, 2015
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
On the surface, it doesn't appear that the bumblebee's wings are large enough to support it to fly. But fly it does. There’s a lot more going on with the wings than it first appears. The enormous complexity of the motion, the design of the wings, and the support system that moves the wings all work together beyond what we would expect them to accomplish: obviously bumblebees can and do fly.
The point: people like us who take on the role of Caregiver may feel ill-equipped to handle the job, but of course we do. Like the bumblebee, we may not think we look the part or have what it takes, but in fact we do!
I wasn't handed a job description. No one trained me for the position. I didn't have a handbook or a library of books to read about how to be a caregiver. I truly was on my own, figuring out what needed to be done each day. There was plenty!
The role of the Caregiver includes a wide variety of tasks. That being said, there are also times when one day seems just like the other. I experienced a string of similar days and then there were time periods when I never knew what to expect on any given day. I look back in amazement to see all that I managed and accomplished, and I sit in wonder. I have no training in Healthcare/Senior Care/Caregiving. I am a mom of four children and was extremely busy for many years until they were self-sufficient. But that did not prepare me for what my caregiving role included. It was on-the-job training for a long time!
Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't feel as though you're doing a "perfect" job. There is no such thing. All you can do is put your best foot forward a day at a time, an hour at a time, and know that you are giving your best. At day's end, be sure to pause and look back on the day and realize how productive you were. Keep up the good job, you're doing great!
Twitter: Carole Brecht @SanGenWoman
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
I have been reflecting on what it takes to care for someone who is completely dependent on you, for everything. My focus for this blog is for an elder who is near the end of his or her lifecycle, with very little hope that life will continue for very long.
When I look back over the last several years and think of all the medical personnel, medications, Caregivers, nurses and aides whom it took to sustain a life, it is quite an eye opener. It may take a village to care for one person, depending on the circumstances.
Our lives are prolonged as a result of modern medicine. Does that result in a good quality of life? Sometimes it does and sometimes not. No matter what, if you love someone you are caring for, you want to do everything you can to keep that person alive.
As a Caregiver, at times I carry around a notebook to track the list of things that have to be done. It reminds me of when my children were young, all under seven years old. At the end of some days I would write a list of everything I did for that day. I was doing many different things for each of my children, while maintaining my household. I wanted to remind myself that, though there were not necessarily physical signs of accomplishment in a day, I still organized and managed much. The same goes for Caregiving. You may not visibly see what you did by day's end, but you can be sure, you were not sitting around twiddling your thumbs. I encourage you to write down, at day's end, what you did that day in order to remind yourself all that you accomplished. You may be surprised to learn how much you juggle and manage.
Raising children and Caregiving have similarities in what the actual job requires. It is a labor of love. In my experience, the hired professional Caregivers that were a part of my experience were very connected to my family. They gave every ounce of themselves to the job, like a family member. We built strong relationships with them. They were highly valued and appreciated.
When you are hiring Caregivers, make sure you understand their background, experience, skill level, limitations and ability to do the job well. Do your research. The same would go for seeking out doctors, specialists, assisted living homes and anything that it takes to provide the best care for the one you're in charge of or caring for.
It may take a village to sustain someone's life. If it does, it's worth every moment spent seeking the best care possible: you are doing an excellent job, keep up the good work!
Jan Steinle, the artist, calls the above image "I See You." When I look at it, all the circular designs remind me of all the people and professionals it took to manage one person.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Thursday, March 5, 2015
When going through the process of caring for the young or old in your life, or both, there will be times you are having a really good day. When that happens, rejoice!
Despite the sadness and despair I experience along the way as a Caregiver, there are plenty of times I have a moment or an entire day that makes me happy while fulfilling that role. How grateful I am when I find joy.
I like to approach my day expecting something good to happen. That attitude has served me well. It calms me and it allows me to keep my peace of mind. There is no use worrying about things that are beyond our control. Worry and stress won't change the situation. What matters most is to be a pleasant person and to avoid confrontation at all cost, no matter if it's with a family member or a doctor or anyone you see in your day. It's worth keeping your attitude in check. For if your emotions rule your day, the slippery slope of internal turmoil can be great and spill onto the person you are caring for. That is the last thing you want to happen.
There is plenty to be thankful for. And you can be sure of this - though you may not get much recognition or visible appreciation for doing what you do, you are highly valued and relied upon to make the day the best that you can for those in your care.
What brings you joy in your day while being a Caregiver to someone you love or were hired to care for? Do you look for the sweet spot or are you dwelling on the negative? We may not have much control over life's circumstances, but we do have control over our emotional well being, how we treat others and our reaction to outside forces.
Look for the sweet spot, it's there!
Twitter: Carole Brecht @SanGenWoman