4 Tips for Talking to Your Parents About Death

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog about how important it is to prepare for end-of-life decisions you might have to make on behalf of your parents. I wrote about advance directives, and having important conversations with doctors and family.

I culled so much good advice from books and articles that it inspired me to talk to my own family.

Here’s how that went down.

Me to Dad: So, Dad, I’m writing a blog about preparing for end-of-life decisions and it occurred to me that we haven’t really talked about what you and mom want.
Dad: You think we’re DYING!?
(End of conversation)

Me to Sister: So, I’ve figured this all out. I’ll tell Mom and Dad that you should be the financial power of attorney because you’re good with money and I’ll be the healthcare power of attorney because I’m good with healthcare
Sister: * ? *
Me: Oh, see, I was thinking we should get Mom and Dad to focus on creating their advance directives — you know, end-of-life planning
Sister: Is there a book I can read about this?
Me: You know I’m an expert, right? Don’t you trust me?
(End of conversation)

Read More

3 Reasons You Might Not Be Getting the Help You Need

It’s 5 am on a Saturday morning and I’m lying awake with that cold, sweaty, anxious feeling that comes from deep existential angst masquerading as too many things to do. I know something has to change – that there’s GOT to be another way to look at my life..to live so that panic isn’t my default emotional channel.

One of the good things about being almost 50 is that I can look back on the last 20 years and realize that being anxious all the time doesn’t change much, regardless of what I’ve got on my plate. In other words, my responsibilities have always felt like too much, even when I was taking math tests in 5th grade.

Read More

3 Powerful Ways to Avoid the Hospital

Americans have a love affair with hospitals.

We tend to think of doctors and nurses as the people who were working hard to make good grades while the rest of us were skipping class. I am pretty sure my brilliant, doctor friend Heather was walking around with a stethoscope at age four while I was still sticking Play-Doh up my nose.

This romantic affection for hospitals is not entirely misplaced. There are zillions of people who need life-saving surgery and who live longer because a hospital was able to treat them effectively. ERs in public hospitals handle an onslaught of some of society’s toughest cases; drug addiction, mental illness, and homelessness.

But, you don’t want to start your caregiver journey in a hospital.

Read More

A Go-To Guide For Understanding Your Aging Parents’ Rehabilitation

I was 30 weeks pregnant with my daughter when a routine doctor’s visit uncovered the fact that a disconnected placenta had cut her off from getting food and water. Essentially, she was starving in utero. Later that same day, my girl was born by emergency C-section weighing in at just over 2 pounds.

Her early birth kicked off years of specialized healthcare and education, most of which was therapy to help her walk, talk and manipulate the tools she’d need to do even the simplest things like eat, use a pencil, and play with her toys.

I’m happy to report that today she’s a strapping 5’7” teenager who plays softball and the piano. And, while her gritty personality had a lot to do with her success, so did the physical, occupational and speech therapists working with her.

Read More

Creating a Resilient Response to Loss: The Special Challenge of Dementia

I’ve said many times that few things are more disorienting than the shift from being cared for by your parents to caring for your parents. The only thing that makes it harder is when your parent (or spouse) has dementia. This is quite possibly the most challenging of all situations.

Every Sunday, I allow myself the pleasure of spending time on Krista Tippett’s website, www.onbeing.org. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled onto a podcast entitled, “The Myth of Closure” with family therapist Pauline Boss.

She’s coined the phrase “ambiguous loss,” which I find revelatory. Ambiguous loss refers to “a loss that is unclear, that has no resolution or closure”…. Where a loved one’s “status as absent or present remains hazy.

Read More

What to Do When Your Best Efforts Aren’t Good Enough

My neighbor George is not a daughter but he’s certainly part of the daughterhood. You see, until a year ago, he spent most of his time taking care of his parents in the home they shared.

Now, from my perspective, he was the best kind of son any parents could hope to have and he fully embodied the spirit of honoring your mother and father.

But from his perspective, he was constantly failing.

Once he relayed a story to me about how he was in the kitchen one night making dinner for his parents – both bed bound in different rooms upstairs. As he’s running the food trays up and down the stairs, as he did for every meal, suddenly his mother calls out, “Come sit with me.”

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More
[gravityform id="1" title="false" description="false"]
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.