Are You Ready to Make Healthcare Decisions for Your Parents? Six Steps to Prepare You Now

A reality of our healthcare system is that it’s really good at keeping people alive way past the point that they’re aware of being alive.

As a result, our parents stand a good chance of ending up in either a healthcare crisis or end-of-life situation where they can’t speak for themselves or make the big decisions that will determine the course of their treatment.

That means YOU are the person who will likely have to make these very hard decisions on their behalf. No pressure, right?

Clearly, this is a LOT  of pressure. So, the question is: How do you get ready? You may have already heard about things like advance directives, living wills, doctor’s orders, power of attorney, healthcare proxy, and on and on. All the things that people SHOULD do to prepare for advanced illness and end-of-life.

The problem is it’s all really intimidating and more than a little bit overwhelming.

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3 Strategies to Overcome the Most Stressful Part of Daughterhood

There is almost nothing in life more stressful than feeling like you are 100 percent responsible for a situation over which you have zero control.

This is happening a lot these days in my house because somehow, somewhere, my daughter has grown into a teenager and I’ve lost control of all but the biggest decisions in her life.

At least she’s my daughter and I am nominally in charge. So as stressful as it is, it’s only a fraction of the stress women face when they feel like they’re entirely responsible for their parents’ health and safety, but, at the same time, have no control over their parents behavior or the choices they make.

This is a recipe for a nervous breakdown — when you have all of the responsibility but none of the authority!

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The 3 Unexpected Stages of Daughterhood

I have spent the last few weeks talking to new Daughterhood Circle leaders. And, even though they live all over the country – from New Jersey to North Carolina to Texas and Minnesota — it’s AMAZING how many of the things they experience are exactly the same.

I mean it’s uncanny how similarly our leaders talk about their lives! Just within a couple of days, (I swear this is true) I talked to two women — both caring for their mothers at home and simultaneously raising kids — and they each talked about how much it means to them to be taking care of their mothers. And, then… each one of them, separately used these exact words:

Sometimes, though, I have to go out to the backyard and scream.”

You can picture women all over America standing in their kitchens coaxing teenagers to do homework, trying to get their 85-year-old-moms-with-dementia to eat, and, in their calmest voice, they’re like, “excuse me a minute everyone” and off they go outside to just have a Moment.

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The 4 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Medicaid Home Care

I love hearing from readers. Sometimes they write to tell me that a particular blog has helped them and that makes me very happy.

But a lot of the time, they tell me about problems that aren’t easily solved and ask questions that aren’t easily answered. Here’s one I get in many different variations that breaks my heart.

“My mom has some income from social security and less than $10,000 in savings. I’ve got a full time job I need to keep. Mom was doing fine until recently – but now she’s in and out of the hospital and having trouble taking care of herself. My sister and I are worried and wondering what we do next.”

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4 Things You Can Do to Make Caregiving Less Tedious

I once had a therapist tell me that I had “the most disordered thinking” of anyone he had ever seen. In light of this diagnosis, I probably deserve a gold medal for getting out of bed most mornings.

My secret to staying semi-sane is to keep really, really busy and to surround myself with lots of people. For someone like me, being bored is deadly.

And, I am going to admit something that I think maybe none of us would say out loud. I find that taking care of other people, whether they are 2 or 102, can often be really boring. I mean, reaalllllyyy TEDIOUS.

I am, for example, not particularly tolerant of caregiving situations that require me to demonstrate a lot of physical strength while being screamed at, and then to have to repeat the whole thing over and over again. I am pretty sure that wrestling a tantruming 2 year old into a car seat looks very similar to some of the exercises they do at Army ranger training.

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Essential Websites for the Daughterhood Journey

These days you can barely open up your internet browser without stumbling across a website for caregivers. On the one hand, this is great but it can also be a problem — There are so many websites with advice and information for caregivers that it can be hard sometimes to find what you need or to even know where to start.

So I want to share some of my favorite sites, organized by topic — in the hopes that you can get what you need more easily.

But before I do, please promise me that you won’t let all these websites and the information they provide make you feel MORE overwhelmed than you already feel. You don’t have to consume it all in one sitting and you don’t need it all right now.

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5 Lessons in Setting Boundaries that Every Caregiver Must Learn

It seems like I’ve been exhausted for 20 years. In just the last few months I’ve been waking up to the realization that this fatigue is the direct result of much-too-loose personal and professional boundaries. I’ve spent so much time and energy in my life doing things that I can’t or don’t want to do –that I am just plain tired.

There’s an epidemic of “can’t say no” among the women I know.  But, I think it’s especially difficult for daughters – to say no to a parent who wants to move in, to say no to unreasonable requests from siblings or paid caregivers, or to bow out of community obligations that are just too much on top of caregiving demands.

As a caregiver, it’s essential that you become an expert in setting boundaries. Boundaries are the flip side of asking for help. And if you can do both… if you can learn to say, “No” and “I need your help,” you might just survive this experience.

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7 Must-Have Books for Caregivers

Experts and former caregivers write books and blogs, and create websites to provide information that will help make caregiving easier. But they aren’t solving the real problem, which is that it’s really overwhelming to have to read and sort through all these resources in the first place.

It makes you feel like you have to become an aging expert – and practically learn an entirely new profession — just to make sure your parents are safe.  It’s a whole other job on top of the one you already have and the care you are already providing your mom or dad.

Also, if you are like me, there are just so many things you’d rather do — like walk your dogs or  spend time with your kids — than frantically search online for information. But what often happens is that you aren’t prepared and then you get caught out! – mom’s in the hospital and you do NOT know about observation stays and hospital-induced delirium or how to find a decent rehab situation and then you feel surprised, scared and like a failure!!

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5 Common Misconceptions About Medicaid

I have a confession. I’ve been avoiding writing about Medicaid. It’s so complicated it scares me. But, Medicaid can be really important to daughterhood because someday you might have to decide if it’s right for your parent. So you have to get smart about it.

Here’s why Medicaid is important: It’s the safety net for when everything falls apart.  

When your frail mother has been caring for your Dad at home alone for five years and she can’t do it any longer. When 24 hour a day home care is too expensive and it still wouldn’t be enough to keep your dad safe. And, then when his nursing home care quickly depletes their savings.

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