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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The 5 Most Unexpected Challenges of Caregiving

The 5 Most Unexpected Challenges of Caregiving

Every single one of us – because we are alive and we are human – runs the risk that at some point in our lives something will happen to us, making it impossible for us to take care of ourselves.

This something can be any one in a long list of disabling events. A car accident, or a serious disease like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, or a developmental disability like cerebral palsy. Or it can just be the result of aging cells when we get old.

What is equally, if not more likely, is that someone in our family – a grandparent, a parent, a sibling, child or spouse – will be among the 10 to 12 million people at any point in time who need help. As a result, we’ll likely be drafted into service, joining the 40 million Americans who are currently serving in the role of family caregiver.

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4 Myths that Increase the Burden of Caregiving

In exactly 10 hours from now, at 5:30 am, I’m going to pull out of my driveway and hit the road for vacation.

And yet, at this point, I am still working. And I’m still packing.

Two days ago, I woke up in a cold sweat about my many pre-vacation obligations, checked my email and found this message from another mom,

“Fighting the feeling of being utterly overwhelmed.”

Two more times that same day I had friends use the word “overwhelmed” to describe how they were feeling – about jobs, kids, caregiving, all of the above.

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4 Essential Tips for Finding the Best Home Care for Your Parents

The vast majority of frail older adults live at home — not in independent or assisted living and not in nursing homes. So, If you’re managing your parents’ care, sooner or later you’ll come up against the question of whether you should get them more help at home and how to go about it.

Hiring someone to help your parents can be expensive and awkward.  It’s often hard to get your parents to accept a paid caregiver into their home and even harder to find a person you can trust.  But, at the same time, it feels like doing so is the only way you can keep your parents where they are.

And, keeping them at home very often feels like the least heartbreaking way to proceed.

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6 Features of Long-Term Care Insurance You’d Never Guess But Need to Know

It feels a little silly to be writing about long-term care insurance because only about 10% of the older adult population has purchased it.

But, it comes up a lot in conversations I have with friends and family… either they’re thinking of buying it or they or their parents have a policy that’s hard to understand.

Also, many, many women want to know… “What can I do to make sure I can pay for care when I need it?”

Because remember… as women, we especially face the possibility that old age will bring with it the need for a lot of help with basic life activities that we do for ourselves now without even thinking: like bathing, eating or dressing.

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The Top 3 Myths Most Women Believe About Paying for Long-Term Care

If you haven’t stopped to think about whether you’ll need to be taken care of when you are very old or how you’d pay for it, believe me, you are not alone.

But, if you are a woman, this is a question you cannot afford to avoid.

As Dr. Atul Gawande explains in his book, Being Mortal, “increasingly large numbers of us get to live out a full life span and die of old age.” Because of this, we live for longer periods of time needing help with basic life activities, like bathing, eating, and dressing.

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5 Safety-First Strategies for Your Parents’ Hospital Discharge

You’ve navigated your frail parent’s hospital stay and now it’s time to go home. You probably can’t wait to leave but …what’s coming next is extremely uncertain. Leaving a hospital with a frail older adult in tow is like stepping off a cliff blindfolded.

This blog is all about resources and tips to help you with this transition but first there are two things to know that will help you understand my advice.

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4 Must-Know Tips for Your Parent’s Hospital Stay

It always comes as a shock to me that being likeable doesn’t solve all my problems. In my mind, being accommodating is the key to being likable.  Of course, the problem with this thinking is that occasionally all that pent up accommodation and desire to be likeable comes boiling to the surface and I become enraged and irrational.

I’ve found that I can sometimes avoid this cycle by being less accommodating and clearer right up front about what I need and what I expect. But, it’s not easy.

There is no better place to avoid the likeability trap than when your parent is hospitalized.  You have to be firm and relatively non-accommodating so you can head off the white-hot fury that ends up making you look like a looney and reduces your effectiveness.

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3 Start-Up Business Strategies That Work for Daughterhood

I’ve always had a hard time with planning. I find the process of “thinking things through” boring and tedious. Occasionally this impulsiveness gets me in over my head. Like the time I ordered 20 zillion ivy seedlings for the shady part of my backyard without realizing that the soil was more clay than dirt. Getting those little buggers in the ground was much harder than I thought it would be — to the extent I had thought about it at all.

However, I’ve found that leaping before thinking has a nice side benefit. It gets you in the game. If you don’t know what’s ahead, you are much less likely to sit on the sidelines. Once 100 tiny plants arrive on your doorstep, you’re committed to their survival, no matter what the obstacle. Would I have ordered them if I had known what I was going to come up against? Probably Not. Am I glad now that I did? Definitely.

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