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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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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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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Caring for Aging Parents: 4 Essential Steps to Navigating Change

I travel on airplanes a lot. Usually, my primary focus is on whether I can get a coffee refill and how much longer I can procrastinate writing my blog.  So, basically, exactly the same as when I am at home only minus the barking dogs.

But a big gust of turbulence can quickly change all of this

The bumpy ride doesn’t scare me but it does refocus me, shifting my attention to the fact that I’m actually sitting in a tin can flying at 200 plus miles per hour 40,000 feet in the air and that there are other human beings with me.

In short, turbulence makes the flight very real.

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The Three Pillars of Parental Care: Add Up to One Impossible Job

My best friend from college and I use a term “the hard professor,” as shorthand for situations where our heroic efforts haven’t felt good enough. It comes from an analogy I created to make a point. It worked like this:  If you were in a class with a professor who, in 20 years of teaching, had never given a grade higher than a “B” and you earned a “B+,” would you be mad at yourself for not getting an “A?”

I’ve learned that when you lose perspective about the value of your efforts, it’s always nice to have a friend point out that you are in the hard professor’s class.

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Why Daughterhood?

I was trying to explain to a male colleague why I am naming my new website “daughterhood.org.” He’s both an expert on aging and shares responsibility with his sister for their mother’s care. So, I wanted his advice on creating a resource that helps families care for their parents.

But when he heard the name of the website, his first reaction was: “So this isn’t for me?” A couple of other men were confused too.

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Daughterhood: The Ultimate Career Disrupter

The idea of “daughterhood” as a career-disrupter occupies little social media, blogging, and media real estate relative to motherhood. BUT, being a daughter can wreck a woman’s professional plans faster than anyone can say, “lean in,” or “play big.”

Taking care of an aging parent is the furtive, not-talked-about “de-railer” of women’s careers — not to mention their own health and sanity. I write and talk a lot about caring for the frail elderly. It’s what I have been doing for the past 20 years.

Here’s what I know about how this new life challenge takes the motherhood-career dilemma and makes it look like small time problems.

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