- Intellectual wellness, being open to new ideas, creative thinking, learning and seeking out new challenges
- Physical wellness, caring for the body for optimum health and functioning
- Social wellness, building relationships with a positive social network
- Spiritual wellness, finding meaning and purpose
- Vocational wellness, seeking a career or other work that is interesting and fulfilling
- Emotional wellness, having a positive attitude, self esteem, sharing a broad range of emotions with others in a positive manner
- Environmental wellness, awareness of interaction with the environment and the community
Caregivers Living In Color
"Our best selves are merely one doodle away. Where once drawing and other painterly pursuits were the province of starving artists or simply child's play, unlocking one's creativity has become the latest mantra of personal growth, career success, and healing”.This article talked about how creativity has the same holistic benefits as a weekend at the Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa (and much cheaper, I might add). The Mayo Clinic recommends the health benefits of painting and ceramics. A four-year study found that people who took up creative endeavors at middle age suffered less memory loss. I came to the conference loaded with statistics and suggestions for creative coping techniques. As is often the case, though, I was the one walking away feeling enriched. I carried home stories about acute pain, muscle inflammation and weakness, negative reactions to medications, falls, even death. I listened to the stories of spouses describing their multiple roles and responsibilities and having little to no time left over for their own pursuits. A young husband became emotional describing how he missed physical intimacy with his wife of only two years. The “toys” people have bought to help them function- motorized wheel chairs, bidets, vans with special lifts. But what I was most moved by was the obvious love and devotion between patient and caregiver. I heard a sweet story from one husband who said his own creativity had actually increased since the onset of his wife’s illness. He cuts out fabric for her as she is no longer able to squeeze a pair of scissors. They have become closer than even before her illness due to these shared activities. I was struck by the bravery. The fact these attendees showed up to the conference was brave. They aren’t settling for a diminished life. As the name indicates, Be Brave. Lose the Beige advocates bravery. Not necessarily the kind of bravery required to climb a mountain or parachute from a plane. It’s the little every day heroics, like choosing to own your own life rather than allowing circumstances or others to own you. Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat Pray Love fame, has written a new book entitled Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear. Gilbert referenced a poet professor who said the following to his budding writer student:
“Do you have the courage? The courage to bring forth this creative work? The treasures that are inside you are hoping you will say yes!”Elizabeth Gilbert goes on to write:
“The hunt to uncover these treasures- that’s creative living. The courage to go on the hunt in the first place- that is what separates a mundane existence from an enchanted one. A creative life is a bigger life, an amplified life, one that is more interesting. Creative living is a path for the brave.”I was honored and happy for the opportunity to meet real heroes this weekend.
Plan (Sooner rather than later)Talk with Parents about their wishes while they are still healthy. Be informed of their expectations. Once your parents become seriously ill, it will be much more difficult to talk with them about this. Follow the Scout’s motto- Be Prepared.
Push the Help ButtonIt can be less stressful if you have help. If you feel that you simply can’t cope, you should use professional home care services. You should also consider installing medical alert systems in your home.
Plan your financesFinances are often a delicate subject. However, discussing finances with aging parents while they are healthy is essential. A working knowledge of how much money you will have available for extra care is important.
Cut down your costsYou can save money if you to buy medical devices through proven and reputable online vendors. Always make sure to stick to your planned budget.
Cope with stressYes, it is quite stressful to see your parent struggling to perform simple everyday tasks. Find ways to relax. Otherwise, your own health can be impacted.
Consider whether it is a good idea to quit your job in order to take care for a parent
Check whether your employer has some flex-time or family leave ideas. Maybe there is a way to keep your job and provide your parents with elderly care at home. Will the loss of benefits impact your own finances?
Create a caregiving budgetBefore considering whether to leave your job, have a look at what you are actually spending on caregiving and how you finance this expense.
Get informed about free or low-cost benefitsThere are websites available providing information about getting help with caregiving and public benefits you might be able to access.
Understand the costs of parents remaining in their homeUnderstand the costs you might incur should your parents choose to remain in their own homes.
Protect your parents from financial scams
In May I posted my People Pleasers Anonymous blog, referencing Faith Salie’s book, “Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much”. I was more than a little delighted to read about her penchant for people pleasing because, like Faith, I too suffer from the same plight. Salie says, “Instead of trying to be a “perfectionist” or “people pleaser”, it’s better to be honest as an approval junkie, someone who is vulnerable and human enough to admit that they care about affirmation from others”. So, after admitting my approval addiction, I embedded a survey link in my post to determine whether I was a lone ranger on this people-pleasing prairie or if there were other like minded pleasers. My husband and I own a market research firm and conduct polls for a living. Thus, I’m sensitive to sample sizes and questionnaire language. The questions used in the survey were tested by psychologists who are experts in this field Nevertheless, I was pretty surprised to receive 207 responses. The target audience for my Be Brave. Lose the Beige blog is women between the ages of 40-80. Half of my survey respondents were between 40-60; the other half between 60-80. Thus, we had a fairly good representation of Lady Boomers.