Reducing Caregiver Stress and Family Friction (Coach’s Corner Episode 12)

Taking care of an aging parent or loved one can be a stressful process. Although it can be extremely rewarding, at times the pressure of balancing their care and other responsibilities in your life can take its toll on you – and at times, even your relationships with others, such as siblings who are also supposed to help out with the caregiving process. If you’re looking for tips on how to balance it all, listen to our coach’s advice for caregivers below, and read on for a transcription.

INTRO: You’re listening to the Coach’s Corner, your trusted source for advice and insight on aging. Lifeways coach Matt Gallardo has been working in the long-term care industry for nearly 20 years. During his career, he has helped thousands of individuals and their families on the journey of aging. His diverse experience, from hospital and rehab settings to senior housing, allows him to share a balanced perspective on aging, along with unique solutions for helping individuals proactively and purposely plan for the future.

And now, here’s your host, Matt Gallardo.

COACH MATT GALLARDO: Thanks again for listening to the Coach’s Corner podcast.

Today we’re going to talk about caregiving stress related to adult siblings that are butting heads over Mom or Dad’s care.

Serving as a caregiver for an ailing parent or parents can be rewarding, and it’s certainly the right thing to do. But let’s face it: it can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. And one of the first suggestions, or an ideal situation as a caregiver, is to share that responsibility of caregiving with other family members. Naturally, much of this starts with the adult children – especially if both parents need assistance, or the spouse has their own health issues to deal with or have passed away.

As a parent’s health begins to fail, you’d hope that all the kids would rally around Mom or Dad and work in harmony to reciprocate the care in this common reversal of caregiving roles. But, not all that surprising, family dynamics and disagreements can make this process very complicated and typically results in one of the kids becoming the primary caregiver. This can create resentment and even more conflict and friction between family members as the burden grows.

So first off, let’s talk about caregiver equity. I think, innocently enough, some siblings cannot offer as much help simply due to geography or their own family dynamics.

If Mom lives down the street from you but lives 300 miles from your brother, let’s face it: there’s going to be some caregiver inequity. Work schedules, retirement, personal health issues and dependent children can also create disparity among sibling caregivers. Although, there are some solutions to alleviate some of these issues. which we’ll talk about shortly.

Less excusable is the exaggeration of some of the above obstacles, or the occasionally uttered excuse of, “Well, Dad liked you best, so he’d rather you take care of him.” Or, “I’ll do my part.” … then they disappear or gradually minimize their efforts.

Lastly are the inexcusable reasons not to partake in the caregiving effort, such as simply turning a blind eye or a purposeful absence due to a held-over a grudge or poor relationship with those siblings or that parent. But some old wounds can run very deep and estrangement is sometimes irreversible.

We must put our differences aside and gain perspective. Whatever the reason the family dysfunction exists, I think most can get beyond these obstacles. Open communication and planning are essential. Full disclosure: My brother and I are not particularly close. We communicate very infrequently, but there have been some recent instances where we needed to talk for the sake and well-being of our parents. Believe me, if we could do this, people can. The point where your parent is in need is not the time for conflict or jockeying of control.

If things escalate, here are some suggestions to share the load:

First, call a family meeting. Include everyone to discuss the situation to work toward a common goal, especially for those out-of-town siblings. Help them understand the need for care and intervention, as they may not be able to detect or accept reality from so far away.

Second, draft a care plan. The plan should be well-balanced and well-defined. Divide up tasks by family member. For instance, if one sibling works in healthcare they can take on all the medical appointments. Pr the person with good business sense might be the one to handle the legal issues or the financial issues. Furthermore, much of this can be done from afar and is a great tactic to keep siblings who live far away doing their fair share. They can also pay for services like home care housekeeping services to help out. They could also host or come stay with Mom every few months to take over and give others a break. And lastly, have everyone signed the plan to maintain accountability and keep everyone on task. Sounds like a lot, but it’s really a good suggestion.

That plan could also include placement options for later on down the line when living in the home is no longer safe or feasible.

Next, utilize technology and outside resources. There are a lot of great fall detection, home monitoring systems and video systems that can create and maintain a safer home environment and make caregiving more efficient and less time-consuming. Also, hired services, like non-medical home care, respite care, and adult day programs can help alleviate the burden of care between family members.

Next, listen to each other and stay flexible. Maintain lines of communication, and also appreciate everyone’s perspective – along with their position and capacity to be a caregiver. Remember, circumstances may change and alter their division of labor. Once again, don’t expect total equality. It’s very rare that caregiving roles can be divided equally. And remember this quote: “Try to separate your parents’ needs from your own and yesterday’s battles from today’s decisions.” That comes from the Family Caregiver Alliance.

Lastly, remember why you’re doing this. Again, caregiving can be frustrating and contentious at times, especially if you feel that someone is not doing their part. But ultimately, you must work together to take care of that person (or persons) that took care of you for all those years.

For more help, call 717-591-7225 or email me at Coach@Messiahlifeways.org. Or, check out the following resources:

  • “What to Do About Mama” by Barbara Matthews and Barbara Trainin Blank
  • “The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caregiving for People Who Have Alzheimer’s Disease, Related Dementia and Memory Loss,” written by Nancy Mace and Peter Rabins
  • The Family Caregiver Alliance – www.caregiver.org

If you’re dealing with some of these issues or are not seeing eye-to-eye with other family members about caring for Mom or Dad, please review today’s suggestions or please contact the coaching office. Additionally, if you have any idea or a topic you’d like to cover, please email me: Coach@MessiahLifeways.org.

Thanks for listening. And until next time, age well!

Who am I?

Introducing Susan Charles, MS Pennsylvania State University and Messiah Lifeways Guest Blogger

After working for 25 years in sales and marketing for IBM and Lexmark, Susan undertook a second career in Wellness with a degree in holistic nutrition along with many fitness certifications with an emphasis on older adult exercise. Her new passion has formed the foundation for public speaking, writing, counseling, and exercise teaching as a second career. Let’s hear a little bit from Susan and what she has in store for our readers.


I’m a new blogger for Messiah Village. I’m 70 years old, live in Hampden Township, and have seven grandchildren. I am healthy as a horse, and whatever I share in this blog, I have tried myself. I just hate it when people preach about things they read on the internet but haven’t made any effort to find out if they really work. You can call me Wellness Grandma because the things we’ll cover will include wide-ranging “wellness” topics. Some examples are purpose-driven living, healthy holistic nutrition, getting in shape for travel, keeping your mind sharp as you age, and much more.

Why am I writing about these things? I feel like my life is fabulous right now, and I revel in getting up every morning with energy and enthusiasm. I strongly believe all of us can do better and sometimes a little guidance helps. I just returned from 12 days of hiking very rigorous trails in the Himalayas, and last fall I went scuba diving with hundreds of sharks, rays and barracudas in Bora Bora. I feel great all the time and take no meds. Although I have lots of academic credentials, I think the results speak louder than the words of advice found in scholarly articles or just about everywhere. I live the life of wellness and love every minute of it. It has paid off very well, and I am enthusiastic to share some of the insights I’ve learned along the way. My goal is to be able to help you create a better version of yourself.

In future blogs, I hope to be able to have online discussions and make this information more interesting and helpful for you! So, let’s get started…

At Messiah Village you hear about embracing life more fully, which is something I hope all my readers would like to do. This blog will generate ideas offering concrete suggestions about how to fully embrace life and improve your overall wellbeing. There will be lots of wide-ranging topics and suggestions. For example, we will discuss things about how to keep your mind sharp, how to create more energy, how to make healthier food choices, and lots more. Hopefully, you’ll want to incorporate some of these suggestions into your daily life.

Let’s get started

Healthy eating is a perfect place for us to start. In terms of results. It offers terrific odds for success because a positive change in eating habits will make you look and feel better than just about any other single thing you can do.

It’s easy to form bad eating habits, and most of us do. Many fast foods, sweet foods, fried foods, and greasy foods taste incredibly good, and so we eat them regularly. Replacing them with healthy food is a process that takes some knowledge of better options and (you will probably hate this word) willpower.

The word willpower has gotten a bad rap in the food world because of its association with dieting. But we won’t use it to mean starving yourself like some half-crazed person on a low calorie diet who beats themselves up later because they couldn’t stick with it. In fact, that kind of dieting is virtually guaranteed to fail. We’ll elaborate on this whole issue in the future because it’s worth a bit of digging in.

What we mean by willpower is about developing a willingness, and later a preference, to reach for a piece of fruit instead of a junk food snack in the middle of the afternoon. Soon we’ll dive into topics such as how to get off processed foods, a mighty hurdle but critical to success. We’ll talk about the (boring?) topic of eating your veggies and loving them, which actually doesn’t have to be boring at all.

I hope you will follow this blog. Right now, just take my word for it; the dividends for making the effort will be well worth your trouble.

Stay tuned for future blog entries as Susan shares her insight, energy and adventures – helping to “Change the Conversation About Aging and Wellness.”

Running with Purpose

On November 12 hundreds of people crossed the finish line of the Harrisburg Marathon including Messiah Lifeways team member, Ron Steficek. On the morning of the race, Ron woke up and started to second guess whether or not he would be able to run the 26.2 mile course. He had been training for this day for the past thirteen months – day in and day out. This day was particularly special for Ron because ten years ago, on November 12, 2007, Ron’s nephew David, a captain in the US Army, was killed in the line of duty while serving overseas in Afghanistan. David was a runner and so when Ron decided to start this journey, he knew he wanted to run the marathon in memory and in honor of David.

Another reason Ron decided to run the marathon was because he wanted to continue living a healthier lifestyle that he started six years ago when he decided he was going to get into shape. He decided he was going to learn karate and, within three years, he graduated with a black belt. After karate, he got involved with bicycling which is still something he enjoys to this day. One day last year while at work, he saw that our Human Resources department had put up a “Couch to 5k” flyer as part of their Wellness committee to try and keep team members healthy and active. Ron figured since he had been bicycling for some time now that he would be able to run a 5k without any problem. It turns out it was a little tougher than he thought it would be, and so he decided it was time for another new “project.”

This time he came to the conclusion that he was going to start training for the Harrisburg Marathon in 2017 and run 26.2 miles – something he had never even dreamed he’d be able to accomplish. But that’s the thing with Ron, if he says he’s going to do something, he puts his mind to it and accomplishes his goal. So, with the help of a trainer, some determination and a whole lot of ambition and discipline, Ron ran his first marathon in 4 hours and 57 minutes. His goal was to finish in less than 5 hours. Thirteen months prior to the race, he started training by doing P90X workouts 6 days a week. Then, he started running two miles a week and kept increasing his mileage per his trainer’s advice. His longest run before the marathon was 20 miles.

Halfway through the marathon Ron was already thinking about how he could improve and beat his time for next year’s marathon. He plans to continue running marathons and wants to keep up with his healthy lifestyle. Ron’s face lit up with a big smile as he said, “this whole process was an adventure and I’m not sorry for one minute that I did it.”

Ron wasn’t the only Messiah Lifeways team member to participate in the Harrisburg Marathon this year. Jessica Mladenoff (pictured with Ron below) also ran in the marathon and Les and Kim Engle and their family (pictured below) competed in the relay section of the marathon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simply the Best 2017

Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village is honored to be named again as Simply the Best Long-Term Care Facility by readers of Harrisburg Magazine in the 2017 Simply the Best awards. Key leaders from our nursing administration team celebrated the event and received our award at the celebration held at the Radisson.

Messiah Village and AT&T team up to keep older adults connected

Reports released in 2017 from the Pew Internet and American Life project show that while older adults are using devices such as tablet computers and cell phones in increasing numbers, they continue to lag behind the overall adult population. That’s why Messiah Village and AT&T employees from Central Pennsylvania on August 31, 2017, teamed up for a program to help older adults learn how they can use wireless phones and tablets to improve their lives.

AT&T employees from Central Pennsylvania helped Messiah Village residents learn more about how to use smartphones and tablet computers to enable them to get better connected to family and friends. During the free program, residents learned how to navigate the Internet, recognize scams, keep private information secure, back-up data and more. State Representative Sheryl Delozier also stopped by the event to talk about the importance of keeping Pennsylvanians of all ages – especially older adults – connected and engaged.

“Now more than ever, services of all kinds are offered online – from continuing education courses and consultations with physicians to accessing benefits, grocery shopping, watching your favorite TV program, and much more,” Delozier said. “That’s why events like these are so important – companies like AT&T making important connections with and for older adults like those who live in Messiah Village. I’m glad the two organizations could team up on such an important project.”

According to Matthew Gallardo, Director of Community Engagement and Coaching for Messiah Lifeways, the event was another example of Messiah Lifeways enhancing the lives of older adults based on their needs and interests.

“Several months ago we were approached by a resident’s family asking about technology training, specifically for cell phone usage and safety,” Gallardo said “Messiah Lifeways Coaching, which provides consumer guidance and education, coordinated this event with AT&T to help give our residents a better understanding of smartphones and tablets so they could have a better user experience as technology becomes more and more mainstream with seniors.”

AT&T employees from Central Pennsylvania were joined by State Rep. Sheryl Delozier at a Digital You training program for residents of Messiah Village.  The event was coordinated by Nicole Dixon, an AT&T regional manager in Central Pennsylvania. Seven other AT&T employees were on site to help answer residents’ questions about their wireless devices.

“Our employees are involved in our communities in many ways. Events like this one give us a chance to help Central Pennsylvanians get the most from their wireless devices and to better connect to each other and their world,” Dixon said. “We’re grateful to the team at Messiah Village for welcoming us to campus. It was a great day.”

Messiah Lifeways At Home: Always Growing

Growing our Team

Thanks to the high quality, compassionate home care services we provide to clients, the At Home team is in demand. Word of mouth is spreading, and our phone rings regularly with requests to take on new clients or requests to add time or services to existing clients. This happens because of the excellent job our caregivers do.

With growth comes the need for new team members. Do you have a hard working, compassionate friend or family member who is in need of flexible work and would be a great addition to our team? We would love to talk to them about working in home care.

Applicants for At Home need to be 18, have a high school diploma or GED, a driver’s license and reliable transportation. We provide all necessary training. If you or someone you know are interested in joining the team, please visit MessiahLifeways.org/AtHomeCaregiver or call 717.790.8228.

Growing our Services

More evidence of growth comes in the form of a broadening array of services we are able to offer to our clients. One particular service that we are particularly excited to be able to provide is certified feeding in skilled nursing facilities. We have many caregivers who have completed their feeding certification and are able to offer 1:1 feeding assistance at mealtimes. This service not only helps clients with their food intake but it provides valuable companionship during mealtimes as well. If you have a loved one residing in a nursing neighborhood and would be interested in more information on having a certified feeder work with your loved one at mealtimes, please contact the At Home office at 717.790.8209. To learn more about Messiah Lifeways At Home visit MessiahLifeways.org/AtHome.

by Christina Weber, MSW, LSW
Director of Home Care Services

 

New Private Nursing Rooms Set to Open

The first phase of Project Envision is ready to be celebrated!
On Sunday, July 30, guests are invited to Messiah Village for self-guided tours of the brand-new Engle and Greenwood Nursing Neighborhoods. The open house will run from 2 pm – 5 pm. Each neighborhood will be home to 16 residents who will enjoy private suites with a personal bedroom and bathroom with shower. Each neighborhood boasts an open concept kitchen and a great room and living room with fireplaces and built-ins to provide plenty of bright, common space. The views from these new areas are spectacular!

The Engle Neighborhood is named in honor of former Messiah Village residents, the late Dr. Harold H. Engle and the late Miss Alma Engle. The siblings were both well-known medical professionals and their combined estate gifts were among the leading charitable gifts for this project. A special art commission by noted calligrapher Timothy Botts honoring the family and celebrating their naming gift will be unveiled at a private reception in late July.

Residents should begin moving into these private rooms in August. At this time, there are still a few private rooms available for qualified applicants. If you are interested in a loved one moving to one of these new nursing neighborhoods, please reach out to the Messiah Lifeways Welcome Center at 717.790.8201 or email life@messiahlifeways.org.

Celebrating Volunteerism

April 23-29, 2017 is National Healthcare Volunteer Week. President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order in 1974 as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers. Every sitting U.S. president since Nixon has issued a proclamation during National Volunteer Week (as have many U.S. mayors and governors). Since then, the original emphasis on celebration has widened; the week has become a nationwide effort to urge people to get out and volunteer in their communities. Every April, charities, hospitals, and communities recognize volunteers and foster a culture of service. Source: www.ahvrp.org.

The Power of Volunteerism

IMG_0894Volunteering is such a pure and selfless act, and all generations can benefit from it. For older adults especially, volunteerism provides purpose and meaning and is a great form of enrichment and social engagement. Its value is two-fold: while helping others, you can simultaneously improve your own physical, mental, and social well-being. Multiple studies reveal that retirement-age individuals who volunteer find it easier to stave off depression, isolation and boredom. Plus, time and time again you hear volunteers say, “I thought I was doing something helpful for someone else, but I feel just as rewarded by helping others.”

For Messiah Lifeways, volunteerism is a quintessential part of our mission and heritage. There are nearly 460 active volunteers ranging from ages 13 to 98! The average age of our volunteers is 73 years young, which emphasizes the significance and value of volunteering no matter what your age.

Lois Hutchison, Director of Volunteers at Messiah Lifeways, states, “Older volunteers in particular want to give back by helping others. They have a great appreciation for volunteerism and enjoy staying actively engaged by making a difference in the lives of others.” She also added that “many family members come back to the Village to volunteer, even though their loved one has passed away. They feel a connection and want to give back to the place that meant so much to their parent or spouse.”

Many volunteers live at Messiah Village and are eager to help in any way. Aside from traditional duties like passing water pitchers, volunteers at Messiah Village can do out-of-the-ordinary tasks, such as driving the campus shuttle or helping to run the gift shops or coffee shops. Others help by showcasing their talents playing a musical instrument or by bringing their furry friends in for pet therapy.

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Each year we celebrate and count our blessings for the enormous volunteer effort put forth by so many. To celebrate this year, volunteers have been showered with love and appreciation with different treats like the “mint” giveaways (pictured above) along with a week-long Volunteer Appreciation Open House where each volunteer gets one-on-one time to connect with the Volunteer Department.

The Economic Value of Volunteerism

In a recent 2016 study from IndependentSector.org the national value of volunteer time was calculated at $24.14 per hour. The estimate helps acknowledge the millions of individuals who dedicate their time, talents, and energy to making a difference. Charitable organizations can use this estimate to quantify the enormous value volunteers provide. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63 million Americans gave 8 billion hours of volunteer service worth $193 billion. For the latest information, please see VolunteeringInAmerica.gov.

To find out more about volunteer opportunities and how you can make a difference at Messiah Lifeways, call Lois Hutchison at 717.790.8203 or visit MessiahLifeways.org/Volunteers.

Fitch Ratings Affirms Messiah Lifeways as Stable through April 2018

In a press release dated April 5, Fitch Ratings affirmed the Messiah Lifeways ‘BBB-‘ rating on the following bonds issued on our behalf:
–$24,080,000 West Shore Area Authority Revenue Bonds (Messiah Village Project), Series A of 2015;

–$10,000,000 Cumberland County Municipal Authority Revenue Bonds (Messiah Village Project) Series A of 2008.

“This is great news,” stated CEO Curt Stutzman. “It’s good confirmation that we are remaining financially stable during the Project Envision expansion. I’m grateful for a solid team that manages our finances with great care.”

The bonds mentioned here are related to the first phase of Project Envision, a major Messiah Village campus expansion.  Construction on three separate sites is now over 60% complete with some spaces expected to open in late July or early August.  Village Square, the Hopewell personal care neighborhood, and the Engle and Greenwood private nursing neighborhoods are all expected to be fully operational by the fall of 2017.

To read the entire release, visit the Fitch Ratings website here.

The Changing Definition of Retirement

What do you think of when you hear the word retirement? It may have a negative connotation or be thought of as “the end of the road,” a time of uncertainty, or conversely a time of leisure or overindulgence. It leaves many new and prospective retirees asking “what’s next?” However, we are living in an unprecedented time for retirees, and in the next twenty years 76 million Baby Boomers will redefine what we think about retirement for the better.

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© Copyright 2015 – Career Partners International LLC

According to Career Partners International (CPI), “Because current retirees are living longer, this group does not view retirement as an ending, but as a transition to a new, exciting phase of life! For many, they will spend more time in retirement than in their working life so they’re looking for ways to achieve and live their retirement dreams.”

CPI goes on to say, “Research shows that many people spend more time planning for a two-week vacation than for their retirement. While many resources exist for financial planning, it’s just as important to think about all the other aspects of life that are impacted by retirement.”

Some retirees discover their bucket list and retirement plans do not sustain them for very long. Will finances be sufficient enough for a decade or two, will there be enough purpose and fulfillment? Successful retirement requires significant exploration, guidance, and planning. So rather than dwell on the negative aspects or “kick back” for several decades, forge your purpose and meaning, strive for personal development and growth, and savor new opportunities.

Messiah Lifeways and the Coaching program have been committed to changing the conversation and embracing aging. So, we’re excited to announce that in early 2017 we’ll launch the Retirement Options Coaching program to help retirees plan for their next phase of life by focusing and assessing six life arenas:

  1. Career & Work
  2. Health & Wellness
  3. Finance  & Insurance
  4. Family & Relationships
  5. Leisure & Social
  6. Personal Development

This Life Options Profile evaluates these six sections and provides individuals with a personal, practical and relevant self-portrait of one’s lifestyle needs and provides insights on transitioning from their current lifestyle to their new retirement lifestyle.

Take a free quiz to see how prepared you are and if you’d benefit from retirement coaching and a Life Options Profile.

To learn more about this new program, please contact Messiah Lifeways Coaching at 717.591.7225 or email coach@messiahlifeways.org.

[adapted from Messiah Lifeways Magazine, Fall 2016, Issue 10]

 

Photo Credit: TCRS