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Archive for the ‘brain games’ Category

Mr. Spock said it r first. We all hope to live long and prosper.

But living long is an art–if you’re going to do it with finesse.

And prospering isn’t all about money–it’s about the wealth we acquire when we live good lives and take care of ourselves.

Great docs such as Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen of the book, Real Age have compiled all the latest health data that if followed, can literally add years to your life. I took this info, along with several known preventative methods to deter Alzheimer’s and compiled it into a list. I love Dr. Oz’s You on a Diet, and You the Owner’s Manual–just enough medicine talk to teach me a few things in a great format I don’t mind picking up again and again.

You might want to post this on your frig.

Don’t feel pressure to do it all–just pick 2-3 things that you can incorporate into your daily/weekly life. That’s enough for now. Later, you can add 2 more.

The Health List: (Ranked in importance to some degree)

  • Embrace a positive attitude. This is number one. Squash those negative thoughts. Redirect them. How? Catch yourself in the act. Turn the negative thought into a positive one and say it out loud. Flood your car and other places where you mind wanders with music, informational CDs, or healthy conversation–continually correct those down/derogatory thoughts until they’re crowded out by good ones.
  • When you can’t, laugh it off. Sometimes life just gets chaotic and absurd. When the crap just seems to pile up, then laugh about it. Ask yourself if this will matter one year, five years from now. Most of the time, it won’t. If it will, then take action and do what you can to fix it–if not–let go of life’s steering wheel and enjoy the ride.
  • Let go of hurts and resentments–most people don’t mean to hurt you, and for those who do, why give them power by dwelling on it?
  • Breathe! When stressed, stop, place your hand on the place on your body where you’re feeling the most tension–head, stomach, and take five slow deep breaths. Count if you need to, if your mind needs something to focus on–30 counts in, 30 counts out–breath in through your nose and really fill up those lungs, and breath out through your mouth and empty everything out in that breath. Do this at least three times a day–stress or not–it’ll change your life. It’s great for stress and anxiety.
  • While we’re on breath, you gotta give up smoking. If you haven’t so far, make an appointment and get into a doctor quick–there’s so many ways they can help you–meds, hypnotism–you’ve simply got to quit. Know that each time you try, you get closer. So don’t give up. I have lots of relatives who tried for years, and you know what? None of them smoke now. Many smoked for 20, 30 years–and now they’re clean. So it can be done!
  • Get enough sleep. I’m talking 8-10 hours. Sleep deprivation will take years off your life,damage your body, and make life miserable. Create a sanctuary in your bedroom–declutter, paint it in a soothing color, get great sheets–look forward to going to bed. Not sleeping enough is responsible for more car accidents than drunk driving and is directly linked to obesity.
  • When you can, nap for 20 minutes. It’s restorative and will aid in your mental sharpness and creativity.
  • Surround yourself with people you love–a spouse, friends, build relationships and community in which to be a part of.
  • Walk 30 minutes a day. Don’t stop. Keep a steady pace. Music helps. It aids in weight loss, stress, diabetes and heart disease prevention.
  • Music is a great mood enhancer. When you’re down, reach for the ipod instead of the pills/booze. It’s known to be effective in dealing with anxiety, depression, and lowers blood pressure.
  • Make love! With yourself and others–being sexual is good for you. (If it’s in a monogamous committed relationship). Create an environment where sex, cuddling and fooling around is easy and relaxing. If not, explore why you’ve shut down in this area–stress? Lack of sleep? Unresolved issues? Take a look.
  • Do some weight bearing exercise 2-3 times a week. Lift weights, work in the yard–move your muscles and stretch those ligaments. It’s even more important as we age.
  • Play! While exercise is important, face it, it’s boring. What sport or activity did you love as a child? I was a bicycler. Now, I bike almost every day. Swim, kayak, install a basketball goal in your driveway–even if you don’t have kids around any more.
  • Stretch–everyone can stretch–any age. 5-10 minutes a day–along with your breath work is something caregivers and their loved ones can do together. Yoga’sgreat too, and there are lots of DVDs and online classes if you can’t get out.
  • If you want to obsess about a body part, then concentrate on your waist size. Waist size reflects mid-section fat–the dangerous kind that’s close to your heart. Men should have a waist of no larger than 36 inches and women, 32 inches. So get out the tape measure and take deep breath…
  • Incorporate being active into your relationships. Meet with a friend for lunch–and then go for thirty minute walk. Sign you and your spouse up for tennis lessons or dance lessons. Shake things up. It’s easy to get sedentary in our relationships and build upon eachother’s bad habits.
  • Get out in nature. Nature’s benefits are endless. We are a part of this planet, and no matter where you live, there’s a dragonfly or cardinal waiting for you. Nature teaches us and heals us in ways we’ve yet to explore or understand. Do you know what prisoners miss the most? The sun–and being outside. Most of us can get up and go outside our front door. Do more than walk to your car.
  • Get your Vitamin D.How? By getting outside–remember I mentioned walking for 30 minutes? Do you know that your eyes and skin absorb just the right amount of Vitamin D in about 10-20 minutes and then it shuts off so you can’t overload? Vitamin D is crucial to your bones and is a real problem for the very young and the elderly–so even if you’re a caregiver–wheel your loved one outside and enjoy the flowers, dragonflies, and walk around the block.
  • Before you head out the door, slather on some sunscreen. No need to inflict damage to your skin, which isn’t pretty in the long run, or put yourself at risk for skin cancer. It’s way too easy to buy a moisturizer that has full spectrum sunblock and slather it on each day.
  • Speak up. When something is bothering you, begin to speak up. Say how you’re feeling. You can do this without blame, but stuffing your feelings is damaging and is known to cause lots of health problems. Speaking up is about taking care of yourself. It’s not always about fixing a problem, but voicing your hurts and concerns is beneficial for everyone. Risk the confrontation. Most people take it better than you think and it can be a great bridge to better communication.
  • Embrace faith. Whatever you believe, to whatever degree–embrace the sense of hope that faith embodies. It’s okay if it’s not the faith of your family or culture, it’s okay if it is–people who have some sense of life beyond, of purpose past self feel more at peace and more connected.
  • Look at your stress. Caregivers and those who are actively caring for others all hours of the day and night can really feel overwhelmed, but what is it that really gets to you? Everyone is different. Stress usually stems from a lack of control. For some, it’s the feeling of being trapped, of feeling like your life is put on hold, or maybe it’s the helplessness of seeing a loved one in pain. Is there one small thing about the stress that you could change? Ask for different pain meds? Try acupuncture? Take an online college class so that you feel like you’re doing something for you? Change doctors if yours won’t listen or communicate. One positive act can have a huge effect. You can’t fix it all, but knowing that you can do one thing can really help combat stress.
  • Learn something new. Learn a language, take a class at the rec center, learn to knit, take a computer course, do a tutorial of photo shop, learn how to make a great tiramasu–use that brain of yours!
  • Play games–in your downtime, reach for the crossword puzzle, chess set, or brain games. It beats re-runs of old tv shows and fires those neurons in your brain.
  • When is the last time you laughed? This is where friends come in handy. If you’re going to watch tv, then opt for funny because it does great things for your body and spirit. Make sure you have at least one “fun” friend who makes you laugh, and brings joy and play into your life.
  • Touch. Be affectionate. Hug, kiss, pet your dog. Touch is deeply important. It’s healing. Get a massage. Hold hands.
  • Practice smiling. If you haven’t smiled in a while, or you can’t remember if you have or haven’t, then start practicing. Smile in the car. Smile on the way to work. Smile in the shower. Smiling goes much deeper than just affecting the muscles in your face. Smiling and touching a part of your body is known as Qi Gong in Chinese medicine. It may sound silly, but you”ll feel better and sometimes we just get out of the practice.
  • Avoid the doctor! Whenever possible (not when you’re really/very sick) don’t reach for the anti-biotics. A cold will run its course. Getting in a medical mindset is unhealthy. Drug companies have corrupted American health care–and a pill isn’t always the answer. For simple things, go to the Internet, a health book and try the natural alternative. Now I’m not talking about cancer, heart attacks, etc.

THE FOOD LIST:

  • Eat well. Food is a celebration of life and culture. Eat what you love. You may think you love Fritos and Ding Dongs, but I bet you love other things too. Make your plate a work of art. Eat on a real plate, sitting down at a nice table. Eat with those you love. Surround yourself with beauty as you eat–a candle or a flower. Think about the food you’re eating. Turn off the tv and enjoy what’s going in your body.
  • Have an eating plan. If you know you’re going to be extremely busy, then take a sec and plan what you’re going to eat. There are almost always decent alternatives. You can eat decently from a quick stop, so no excuses. Stress eating leads to junk food eating. Create a fall-back plan for when life is crazy and incorporate at least a few healthy alternatives. Love salty? Go for salted nuts as opposed to chips. Love sweets? Go for Twizzlers or other candies with no fat–or a bag of grapes. Mindlessly eating? Grab a bag of carrots. Some gum, or popcorn. Know what it is you want–to chew, something creamy and homey–have those comfort foods on hand. They now make a Mac and Cheese with only 2% fat–and it doesn’t taste half bad. 
  • Know your weak spots. I know when I’m overworked and exhausted that I eat crappy. I’m working on a plan–foods that aren’t terrible for me, but I still find comforting in times of stress. I also know that during those mindless eating stress times I need to take a bath and put myself to bed. I’m not craving food as much as I am self-care and rest.
  • Cut way, way back on fried foods. Now I know you love them, but save them for truly special occasions–birthdays, anniversaries. If you need a fix, then consider oven frying your food at home–country fried steak, and fried chicken still taste good from the oven and it really cuts down on the fat.
  • Eat at home. It’s the only way to control your portions and calories–and quality. There are so many hidden variables in eating out it’s hard to know where to start. Make your home a place of serenity and beauty and take pride in the food you fix. It’s a much more satisfying experience. Learn to make one or two new dishes a month–and enjoy the experience.
  • Embrace fruits and veggies. You know you should–start with those you already like. If you grew up on green beans and corn, then start there and always have those on hand. Try a few more–see what you like. There’s a million ways to make a salad so get creative. The darker green the veggie, the better–the brighter the fruit, the better. Color rules!
  • Go green and buy those fruits and veggies from a local stand–you’ll not only help out your community, but you’ll get fresher produce.
  • Look at your palm. That’s the size and thickness a piece of meat needs to be. You only need one of two of these palms a day. Not enough food? Then pile on the veggies! Have a piece of fruit before your meal–or after.
  • Avoid white–white bread, white rice, have small portions of corn and potatoes. Choose grains instead–brown rice, wild rice, all different kinds of bread–seek out a local bakery. Potatoes and corn are good, but know that you don’t need a huge plateful.
  • Avoid the other white stuff–mayo, full calorie dressings, gravies–all should be used sparingly and the low-fat version is a better choice since we tend to over do it in these areas.
  • Dairy is okay for most people–especially women. Americans could eat more yogurt–the yogurt cultures contain acidophilus and is great for balancing our digestive tract.
  • Curb your appetite with a palmful of nuts. Keep lots of nuts on hand (raw is best, but just get used to eating them regularly at first). The best nuts for your brain are walnuts, almonds, and pecans. They’re great in salads too. It’s a good idea to eat a small handful before a meal–they curb your appetite, have a healthy amount of oils, and you’ll be less ravenous at your meal.
  • Know your super foods–not all food is created equal–here’s a list of the best of the best:
    • Beans
    • Blueberries
    • Broccoli
    • Oats
    • Oranges
    • Pumpkin
    • Salmon
    • Soy
    • Spinach
    • Tea (green or black)
    • Tomatoes
    • Turkey
    • Walnuts
    • Yogurt
  • Nix the plastic bottles of water and install a water filtration system on your faucet. Plastic isn’t good for you–fumes and all–and most city’s tap water is just as clean, if not cleaner than the stuff you’re paying for.
  • If you want notch it up, go for organic meats and eggs that haven’t been injected with hormones. It’s more expensive, but realize you need to eat less amounts of meat any way. We don’t need all those hormones and antibiotics.
  • Take a multi-vitamin–while research goes back and forth about supplements, if you’re eating well, you don’t need too much else. If you’;re dealing with a certain condition–UTIs, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, then this is the time to incorate a few more supplements. Some research indicates that Vitamin C and E helps stave off Alzheimer’s. A great source to know what to take for what disease/condition is at Dr. Weil’s site.                                       .
  • Enjoy a glass of wine! Ladies, on a day is enough. Red is better (although I’m a Riesling fan). Beer’s okay too.
  • Give up the Cokes/carbonated drinks. Nothing good is in any of them. Treat yourself to one occasionally–if you really like the way it tastes, but don’t keep them in your house. They actually suck oxygen out of your bones, has been linked to Parkinson’s, and new research says it might actually damage your cells. And have you seen what it does to your car battery? 
  • Have a cuppa coffee! This one made me particularly happy. Studies show that coffee’s good for your heart–and for Alzheimer’s. It opens up the blood vessels.
  • Give up the artificial sweeteners. They’re all scary. Go with steevia. I know, it’s hard for me too.
  • Go with real butter as opposed to the fake stuff–but a little dab’ll do ya.
  • Go with olive oil whenever you can. Other than desserts, you can cook with olive oil–and we already said that cakes and cookies are a splurge item.
  • Fish rules. Try to incorporate 2-3 fish dishes into your weekly diet. Salmon is great choice. So are all the white fishes–this is when white is good. Go local when you can. Broil or pan cooked fish only takes minutes to fix.
  • Desserts such as cakes should go with life’s celebrations. Enjoy them on birthdays,  anniversaries and holidays–as well as break ups and other life tragedies that only a cake can help. Other than that, have your glass of wine, dark chocolate and some cherries–not a bad way to end a day. If you love your icecream, then go with a low-fat frozen yogurt. Experiment and find your favorite kind.
  • One great dessert you can have it dark chocolate. I keep it at all times. Seriously. I have a small bar each day. I like Dove dark chocolates. I need it be a little creamy. Some of the European high cacoa varieties are too bitter to my liking. Four of their little squares makes me very, very happy. I also like Ritter–and they have one with hazelnuts that’s to die for. Dark chocolate has anti-oxidants which lowers blood pressure.
  • Incorporate flax seed or flax seed oil into your diet–a spoon of the oil can be added to soup, rice, or other dishes and isn’t even noticed. This gives the body Omega 3’s which is great for your heart and is also high in fiber.
  • Women and seniors probably need to take a calcium supplement. We just don’t get enough, and we don’t lift enough weights to offset gravity’s pull on the bones and spine.
  • Best spices are cinnamon (regulates blood levels and is good for diabetes), curry and cumin (heart and metabolic effects) and garlic (heart again). In fact, spices are great all the way around.

A Few Last Words:

Trust your body. If you’re craving lemons, then eat lots of lemons. If you’re sleeping ten hours a night, then tuck yourself in early.

Our bodies are incredibly intuitive. It knows what it needs. Also know that it’s about 3-6 months behind, so the stress you’re experiencing now (say, a bum knee or a heal spur) might be because of the stress and strain that was put on it months before–also know that your spirit works the same way.

If you’ve experienced a huge life change, then realize that your body and mind may be reacting to it months later. If you’re weepy, angry, mopey, it may be that your body needs to play catch up. Let it feel what it needs to feel and trust that it won’t last forever.

Get rid of negatives. Negative people and work situations can be difficult, if not downright impossible to overcome. If you’ve tried to remedy the situation–you’ve spoken up, offered solutions, tried to be amenable and it’s still not working–then consider a change. Money isn’t everything, and if your relationship is unhealthy, then choose to be alone and trust that if you ask the universe for something better–and then wait–it will come.

If you’re in a stressful situation–caregiving, the end of life, a messy divorce, recovering from a car accident, then be gentle on yourself. Life ebbs and flows and know that this difficult time will pass.

Sounds like a lot, huh?

Focus on one thing. If you try to be uber-good, it’ll back-fire and you’ll wind up overdosing on Ho-Ho’s in your car. One change is a good change.

If I’ve forgotten something important, then email me and I’ll add it to the list!

According to the death clock, I’m living to 100. Now, I’ve seen what 90-100 looks like for most folks, and I’m on a mission to improve my last decade. I plan on dancing at my great, great granddaughter’s wedding!

Live long–and prosper!

 Carol D. O’Dell

Family Advisor at www.Caring.com 

 

 

 

 

 

Syndicated Blog at www.OpentoHope.com

Kunati Publishers, www.kunati.com/motheringmother-memoir-by-car/ – 95k

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Face it, times are tough.

Can you afford to stay in your own home? Are you well enough to manage everything on your own?

Are you recently widowed and wonder if living by yourself is such a good idea?

Are you a boomer or sandwich generationer wondering how to care for/pay for your kids, your parents and save for your own retirement?

You (or your elder loved one) might be the type of person who would rather live in your own home or with someone you know rather than move into a care facility. Besides, care costs are astronomical. Even with medicare and medicaid, there are still a lot of hidden and unexpected costs, not to mention how challenging it is to find a care facility where you enjoy the people and the staff and get the care you need and deserve.

There are many reasons why family caregiving is a great option–it’s easier to take care of your loved ones if they’re living with you, most people prefer being with or near family, you tend to get better care from relatives and close friends, and it’s cheaper.

No wonder 80% of the elderly population rely on family caregiving.

In today’s precarious economy, it might just be a necessity.

I know of several friends and neighbors who had lost their jobs due to downsizing, budget cuts, and forced (or high encouraged) early retirement. Gas is four dollars a gallon and I almost paid ten bucks for a two pound bag of cherries at the grocery store today. I told the cashier I wouldn’t be buying those, thank you very much.

The strapped economy is hitting everyone, particularly the elderly who have to have their meds, pay for rising electricity costs still get to their doctor appointments. These aren’t luxuries. Nursing home costs are staggering, and not all are covered my medicare and medicaid. On average, the daily cost ifor a care facility s $350.00 a day–and memory impaired units range from about $450.-700.00 a day. A day.

But moving in with your adult children might not be ideal either.

Most people want to remain independent for as long as possible.

How do you stay in your own home? 

Plan early. Look into www.aginginplace.org

Consider long term care, but make sure you go with a reputable company who will be in business and honor their contracts for years to come.

  • When you buy what you think will be your last home, consider city, driving distance, doctor’s, care facilities, and senior resources. Can you live there after you can no longer drive? Can you use a community van or are there taxis? Is your home/bedroom on the first floor? Can you manage the maintance of your house and yard? Plan, plan, plan.
  • Buy property and build a smaller house or a garage that could be converted for a caregiver or family member. It’s an investment you’ll get to keep–and when or if you need to sell, it’s only improved your property value.
  • Consder renting a room–to another senior and split certain home or home health care charges
  • Convert a garage or attic and rent to a relative or younger person. You might even consider rent in  in exchange for services–college age, divorcees, and many people would benefit from this arrangement as well as nieces or nephews just starting out in life
  • Build an apartment onto your home–or if you do move into your children’s home, build one onto theirs so you still have privacy and can come and go as you please
  • As time goes on, consider a small group home run by a licensed care worker who only takes in 4-8 persons–ususally, the charges are less although they can do less for you medically, so consider your health and medical needs in making this decision

How to Live with Family Members Without Hating Each Other

  • Establish rules up front–realistically know you’ll have differences and times when you need to talk honestly about what’s bothering you. Make sure you can sit down and do this knowing you’ll be heard and respected–and that you offer the same in return
  • Know that there will be a honeymoon time, aand a time of disillusionment when you wonder if you made the right decision–but also know that this too will pass
  • Accept that change is inevitable. Don’t pine away for what once was–embrace the now and choose to find the good in each day
  • Give each other privacy–still knock and be considerate of quiet, rest, and alone time
  • Be sensitive–if your loved one is acting odd, they might be going through something they can’t share or verbalize–there’s a time to be tender and patient with each other
  • Plan certain meals or times together–but don’t overdo it
  • Hire caregiving or chore help–don’t expect your family to do it all
  • Find ways to be needed and give. Help out–offer to do a consistent job
  • Try not to complain about your health or living conditions–everything may not be perfect, but it still might be better than your other choices
  • Refrain from commenting on their life choices–how they dress, where they go to church (or not), the state of their marriage–do more listening than advising
  • Make friends and connections, don’t rely on your family to be your everything
  • Smile, be easy to get along with, and show gratitude–it’s contagious, so maybe you’ll get some in return
  • If you do have an issue, don’t let it fester. Sit down, say your peace, have a possible solution in mind, and then deal with it and let it go
  • Eventually–about six months to a year after moving in together, you’ll begin to settle in but it may take up to two years for it to feel like home. You might feel lonely at times, lost and undefined.
  • Be sure to reach out to your new community–join a club, a senior citizen center or a church–make new friends–even if it’s hard or scary, it’ll be worth it. We all need friends.
  • Accept your place of honor and dignity–you hold a special place in the family, but you have to know that and own it first before anyone else does. Embody a sense of wisdom, confidence, and respect within yourself–others will begin to sense it when they’re around you.
  • Expect that at some point you’ll have a big fight or misunderstanding. Families do those kinds of things. It’s okay. Forgive each other. Be quick to say, “I’m sorry.” Laugh about it.  Even if there were yelling and pouting involved, so what? People act crazy at times. Who else can you act up with other than your family?

Family caregiving is part of who we are. No amount of money can buy love. If you’re blessed enough to have a brave enough family who are willing to be togehter, love and care for one another in one way or the other, be grateful.

I was a family caregiver. I brought my mother, who had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, into our home. We built her an apartment onto our home. She lived with us for close to three years. So I know what caregivers face. I know how hard at times, it could be–the physical work, the emotional undertow that gets kicked up, the strain of living together after years of running your own house. All this takes some getting used to.

It’s okay to be mad, hurt, or frustrated with a family member. Families are resilient. They know how to love fierce and forgive easily (or in some cases, eventually). As my friend and fellow author Cheryl Kaye Tardif says, “It’s not about how to live with your family without hating them–it’s about living with your family without killing them! You can hate all you want!”

Emotions come and go. Family committment runs deep.

Life changes and people aren’t perfect, but a family is a great thing to have.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother, available in hardback or on Kindle

www.caroldodell.com

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Different personalities handle life, death, and caregiving differently.

We all have gifts to offer the world and to offer as a caregiver. 

Stop trying to be something you’re not.

Stop trying to be your mother.

There are things you’re good at things you aren’t.

Accept this and let go of the guilt. 

By examining your basic personality traits, you can capitalize on your strengths and accept what you can–and can’t do.

There are several types of personality tests such as the Briggs-Meyers and Kiersey Temprement scale. 

Let’s start with a simple one first. It’s actually based on the four humors of Hippocrates and is called Personality Plus by author and speaker Florence Littauer.

Here’s an easy breakdown of the Four Basic Personality Types:

Choleric: This is the commander-type. Cholerics are dominant, strong, decisive, stubborn and even arrogant.

Melancholy: This is the mental-type. Their typical behaviour involves thinking, assessing, making lists, evaluating the positives and negatives, and general analysis of facts. ‘

Sanguine: This is the social-type. They enjoy fun, socialising, chatting, telling stories – and are fond of promising the world, because that’s the friendly thing to do.

Phlegmatic: This is the flat-type. They are easy going, laid back, nonchalant, unexcitable and relaxed. Desiring a peaceful environment above all else.

Positives and Negatives

None of these types is specifically described as positive or negative – each having upsides and downsides. The book makes it clear that the characteristics are for observing and identifying, rather than judging.

  • A Choleric is focused on getting things done, but can run rough-shod over others. They are decisive and stubborn, but are also natural leaders and like check lists and getting things done. They can also be charismatic and dynamic and tend to “take the air out of the room.”
  • A Melancholy is a planner, making sure things happen, although sometimes they can paralyze themselves with over-analysis. Lists and “doing things the right way” are characteristics of this personality type. While quiet, they are also strong and stay on task. They are the ponderers and can also be great artists and enjoy being alone. They tend to make their own happiness and are easy to get along with.
  • A Sanguine gets on well with people and can get others excited about issues, but cannot always be relied upon to get things done. They love interacting with others and play the role of the entertainer in group interactions. They have a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver. They are also inspiring and charasmatic and light up a room.
  • A Phlegmatic is neutral – they tend not to actively upset people, but their indifference may frustrate people. They try not to make decisions, and generally go for the status quo. Phlegmatics are peace lovers and bring a sense of calmness to situations. They avoid stress whenever possible and are great at coping skills and solving problems–if you seek them out because they’re not likely to assert themselves. They don’t like being the center of attention.

Do you see yourself anywhere?

I do. I’m a mix of sanguine and choleric and with a dash of melancholy.

I’m one step away from being a party-hardy, but I do have my contemplative side.

I also see myself, sad to say, not delivering on all of my promises. Mostly because I promise too much.

I can entertain a room and love telling stories, planning an event, and rallying a cause.

By  knowing this about myself, I’m able to recognize when I am, or I’m not at my best.

I was also able to assess my mother’s personality–not hard to do–choleric and then some.

I could see why we butted heads. Two extroverts, entertainers, both of us know-it-alls–under one roof. No wonder we had a few fireworks (cannons) go off. No wonder we needed to get out and be with other people–only caregiving and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s isn’t exactly a great mix for mingling in a crowd.

Still, I could watch my mother’s face light up whenever we had company.

I can still see her long, elegant hands (she always had great nails) expressing a point.

Even her natural speaking voice had a certain cadence to it. You listened when she talked.

She liked herself, and that makes others like you as well. Some people found this annoying, but perhaps they felt threatened by such a formidable woman. While I’m at it, I can’t fail to mention that she was BOSSY, irritating, and demanding! She wouldn’t mind me saying these things because she wouldn’t consider them a detriment. That’s how things get done, she’d say.

In the end, I have to believe that I was able to offer my mother the homecoming she desired. She died at home, with me by her side and with hospice to guide us.  I fought exhaustion and doubt because I have the personality to go and go–if I believe in something. We stuck together–through fights, medical setbacks, and long, dark nights.

Her memorial service had a presentation of her dynamic life–as a minister, mother, wife, radio and television evangelist, and I was able to give her this because I understood her and how she would want to be remembered. I used my gift to tell stories to remember her. That’s why I wrote Mothering Mother, to capture who she was, who we were.

Learning about your personality and others can help when things get rough.

When I get out of my element, I say that “my circuit breakers are popping.”

That’s when I’ve created or become a part of a too stressful situation and I begin to lose it.

I forget things, drop the ball, the house gets totally chaotic–I”m even later than usual, and I get fussy.

I mean really fussy. I’m usually a laid back, happy go lucky gal, and when I get mean–something’s off.

I know this about me, and it really helped in dealing with caregiving stress.

I knew what to watch out for. I knew what I could give my mother and my family–and what I couldn’t.

You can’t go changing yourself, so don’t try. Not that we shouldn’t improve, but don’t plan to go out and get a lobotamy.

You pretty much have to go with the Popeye motto, “I am what I am.”

So accept your basic personality and learn to make the most of it.

For us Sanguine’s and Cholerics–hey, we can throw a great party and get people involved in a cause. We can mmake people smile and laugh, make a room look gorgeous, a meal, sumptous, and call up an army in time of need. Those are good things. But don’t ask me to scrub the little square bathroom tiles cause it’s not happenin’~

What we can’t do for you is pay attention to every detail, plan for every pitfall, or deliver on our gazillion, hair-brained ideas. We do care when we let people down, at least I do.

What this means is that we need each other.

I need those quiet, consistent friends to help me stay on course.

I need a phlegmatic to calm me down when I get too worked up.

I need a melancholy daughter to ask me how I’m doing, what I need–and then take the time to hear me out. I need my choleric daughter to organize my office while I listen to her fume about the injustices of the world.

I need my phlegmatic husband to pay the bills, put money in our 401K and run my beautiful website he designed. Does he drive me crazy with his skepticism and practicalities? Sure does. But my kite-flying high ideas drive him bonkers too. Still, we make a good team.

Isn’t it wonderful how we can look around us and see how we all fit together?

Caregiving is tough, but no matter which personality type you have, you bring gifts to the table, to your relationship. It is no mistake that you are you mother’s daughter, your husband’s spouse, that your sister happens to be so opposite of you sometimes you want to scream–and then other times she balances you out, and smooths over situations in a way you couldn’t have.

By understanding better who you are, where your weak spots are, what you’re good at–you can offer your loved one something unique and just what they need.

Accept your personality and your relationships as they are meant to be.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Family Adviser, Caring.com

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon

www.mothering-mother.com

www.kunati.com

www.Caring.com

www.opentohope.com

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Most people would tell you they’d much rather be a caregiver than a care receiver.

And as much as I whine, gripe, complain, and mope about caregiving, I too, wouldn’t volunteer to sign on the care receiving dotted line, and I do know that there will be a day when I will need to relinquish my car keys, ask for assistance in and out of a chair, accept that someone might need to help me change or bathe me or stay up all night at the hospital with me–and that I need to choose now to accept this part of my life with dignity and grace.

Easier said.

As much “air time” as caregivers get for being under stress and juggling all of their responsibilities, the care receiver has little to say.

Why? Mostly because they are the ones who have to deal with the pain, challenges and incapacity brought on by illnesses. They don’t have the energy to hang on the computer because all their energy goes into fighting pain, depression, or it might go to the ever sucking mind meld of Alzheimer’s.  

The few care receivers/partners who manage to blog offer their insights for the rest of us and are amazing individuals who give us to peek into their world and catch a glimpse of what they face–from the pain to the sorrow, to the humor and love and relationships they hold dear.

Some of my favorite blogs are by those who face Parkinson’sor ALS or dementia or cancer and capture their thoughts, fears, moments of tender joy for the rest of us. 

Kate Kelsall’s Shake, Rattle, and Roll is an excellent example of a thoughtful, hope-filled blog about her challenges with Parkinson’s and her extraordinary life.

Most people would rather be a caregiver–even with the nights, weekends, doctor visits, orange vinyl hospital chairs, and back straining duties–they’d still rather be the one to give.

But life keeps on and sooner or later, we will age, our bodies will break down, and we will find ourselves…in need.

So many people don’t want to need anyone any more. They thnk that if they have enough money they won’t be a burden to their family–they’d rather have a stranger bathe them than a daughter. They don’t want to inconvenience anyone, and while I do understand that to some degree, I also want families to know that needing is a good thing. Our babies need us, our children need us, my husband needs my support–wants it yes, but also, he needs me.

Too much needing is not healthy, I know that firsthand but families needing each other isn’t all bad either–and it doesn’t mean you can’t supplement care. Needing someone to be a part of your life is what connects us.

Have you ever met a person so together that they were either intimidating or boring? Everything was perfect and they had no struggles, no hardships, and therefore, you had nothing in common–nothing to work through or talk about?

As we grow older or are faced with an illness, we can’t say to the world, “No thank you, I think I’ll pass on the care you’re offering me.”

I know that as a caregiver to my mother who had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s that I’ve learned many valuable lessons:

  • Tto be patient, forgiving, to stand up for ourselves and those we love
  • To strive for balance, to say our words of love now
  • To see beauty in the smallest of moments
  • To be astonished at how stubborn, tenacious, and strong I can actually be under extreme pressure. 
  • To see my own weaknesses and things I needed to work on–lots of things to work on.

If we learned have somuch to learn from caregiving, do we not think that care receiving might

teach us a few things as well?

As a care receiver, I become the life lesson for others. I submit to be a part of the bigger picture.

I agree to become the white nouse in the lab of life–here, learn off of me, practice patience on me, try and fail and try again to forgive–on me. I will allow my body, my inadequcies, my vulnerabilities to be used by others to teach strength and gratitude, and I know full well there’s no easy way to learn these things. And I’ll be willing to participate in this grand human experience while I’m fighting pain, facing impending death (or transformation depending on how you look at it) and even the possible void of the forgetting.

I agree. Sign on the dotted line.

Whew! It’s even scary to write those words, to agree to this in theory. Yet so many phenomenal people have had no choice. They relinquish their pride and indepence in order for us to learn to love.

That’s what it really boils down to–that’s the essence.

I will allow my pain and sorrow and illness to teach others how to love.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot left to learn. Learning how to receive is infinately harder to learn than how to give.

 ~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon

www.mothering-mother.com

www.kunati.com

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 If you’re below the age of 65, you may worry about Alzheimer’s, but most likely, you’re not affected yet. 

Alzheimer’s is rare at that stage of life, affecting about 1 person in 1000 in the general population, but over the age of 65 it affects about 1 in 20. 

And the odds increase with age.

According to the very latest research found in the journal of neuroepidemology, that if you live to the golden age of 85 nearly 1 in 2 will have the disease. (Alzheimer’s currently makes up about 70% of the broader category known as dementia) Vascular dementia is the second highest form of dementia and about 10 percent of Americans aged 71 and up, or 2.4 million people, have Alzheimer’s disease and 1 million more have some other form of dementia

Here’s what a “brain on Alzheimer’s” looks like:

Women have a slightly greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s than men. Two factors of Alzheimer’s are plaque and tangled neurons. Both cause the brain to “shrink” and not make the proper connections. Memory, judgement, disorientation and logical and rational thinking are affected. Alzheimer’s can occur as early as in your 40s whereas dementia doesn’t usually strike before your 70s and is more of a gradual process.

Yikes. Makes me consider opening an extreme sports company and call it “When I’m Eighty-Four.” (named after McCartney’s “When I’m 64”) 

I’d rather go out bungee jumping, hang gliding, or mountain climbing.

I’d rather everyone stand around at my funeral saying, “You’ll never believe how she went!”

Remember the movie, Second Hand Lionsand the airplane through the barn? Sounds exhilerating to me.

But the fact is, we have very little say-so about whether we get Alzheimer’s or not.

It’s not like the connection between lung cancer and smoking. All we can do is make good personal, psychological, emotional and physical choices today–and then do a lot of hoping. (aka praying)

There’s very little you can do to avoid Alzheimer’s. There’s been some speculation with aluminum, but that’s still up for debate, and the experts also suggest to avoid getting hit on the head, but then again, they’re neurologists. What else are they going to say?  If both parents get Alzheimer’s, well, don’t try to think about that. Bottom line is, we know very little about this baffling disease.

 So here’s my personal guide to avoiding Alzheimer’s:

  • Maintain a good attitude about myself and others (my mother had a theme song, “I love me, I love me, I’m wild about myself…)
  • Forgive and let go on a daily basis (this is truly my mantra, to become a sieve and let all the anger and hurt and disappointments of life to flow through me)
  • Drink a little wine and celebrate life every chance you get (Salute!)
  • Eat dark chocolate often (I’m game)
  • Make love and maintain a loving long-term relationship (I’m assuming they mean with your long-term relationship partner)
  • Have friends and enjoy lively conversations, even debates (Hey, it’s an election year, surely you’ve got something to debate about!)
  • Learn new things: a new language, how to wire your ceiling fan, how to program your remote control (will someone please please teach me how to use my universal remote?)
  • Dance! This is a great way to avoid Parkinson’s, too. (That’s it. I’m signing up for those ballroom lessons I keep putting off!)
  • Surround yourself with beauty. Research has shown that the taste a person has in art or music is still there after they have Alzheimer’s. (In other words, if you’re like me and love Van Gogh, his work will still move you even if you can’t remember what a telephone is)
  • Take trips. Research has proven that taking trips is a great way to de-stress and a satisfying use of money. (I plan to see fill my heart and my brain with as much of the world’s beauty as I can cram in there)
  • Value sleep and don’t skimp on it. (I try not to wake to an alarm clock and I’ve created a sanctuary of a bedroom that’s glorious to fall asleep–or wake up in)
  • Get a dog, pet the dog, walk the dog–30 minutes a day (mine’s asleep under my chair right now)
  • Eat real food–veggies, fruits, lean meats, avoid processed foods–and cook in cast iron (I still have my mother’s)
  • In downtime, play soduku and chess and crossword puzzles–things that keep the ole’ brain fetching information (I hope blogging counts)
  • When you retire, get involved and stay involved with life–teach a class, start a second career, volunteer.  Don’t let your brain or your heart think your life has no purpose. Your body is smart, and if it thinks its usefulness is over, then it’ll begin to shut down. (Remember? I’m opening that extreme sports company)
  • Make plans now. Say what it is you want–do that living will and five wishes–don’t be afriad to talk.
  • Say ALL YOUR I LOVE YOU’s NOW and KEEP SAYING THEM

    Get a sense of humor! Humor heals. Watch funny movies, buy a joke book/ Get bawdy, humor is the sign of higher intelligence (I knew that, that’s why I’m so funny….looking)

If you get Alzheimer’s, take your meds and trust that your family will take care of you the best they can.

Tell them they’ll have to love and remember for the two of you.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother, available in hardback or on Kindle

www.caroldodell.com

Author of Mothering Mother, available in hardback or on Kindle

www.caroldodell.com

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It’s not that I’m against “brain games.” They’re an enjoyable and a way to spend your spare time.

Whether it’s chess, bridge, crossword puzzles, hand-held games, soduku, or computer games, many boomers and seniors hope to ward off the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease by keeping their mind active.

But remember, nothing can replace purpose.

Our brains and hearts know what’s really important and what’s not. When we become empty nesters and/or life slows down, we can’t fill it with golf, games, and country clubs and think that’s going to make us happy or mentally sharp.

Reinvent yourself. Learn something–and yes, chess, etc., does count, but why not examine your heart and really go for it? Why not volunteer, start a second career, or find something that really engages you past mild entertainment?

I know, you’re tired, you work all day, you’ve worked all your life…you don’t have the money, or you just don’t have the drive. Sounds like depression and complacency has reared its ugly head.

You don’t have to kill yourself to begin to take small steps.

Try something new. Volunteer once or twice a month at a literacy organization, go online and find a local charity and donate your skills as a carpenter, computer expert, or cook–plan a “giving” vacation and go build a school or clinic in Guatamala.

I’m just not like that, you say….that’s not me. I’ve been too busy building a career, raising …

I understand, but it’s a new day.

I can’t promise you that Alzheimer’s or dementia won’t skulk in through the backdoor of your brain, but I say it’s going to have to catch me.

I need purpose. I need something bigger than me to believe in, to give myself to.

I want a life of passion and purpose.

I can’t control the future, but I can sure make it difficult for fear to wrap its gnarled grip around my neck.

Boomer means to boom!

A few months ago, I held a memoir based writing workshop at Cathedral Gardens. I taught over 100 seniors and we spent the day totally engaged. We wrote their stories–adventures gathered in their lifetime. One gal, (97 years old) wrote her detailed and eloquent account of joining the Merchant Marines in 1930 and sailing around the world seven times. She spent hours writing and dictating her story. She wasn’t worried about her arthritis or whether her brain might go haywire. She was wholeheartedly engaged in her story. Her purpose for that day was to get it on the page.

These seniors lit up. They went into that zen place where your thoughts and creativity take you, when you don’t talk, you work contentedly, you don’t even think about going to the bathroom or being hungry. you’re lost in your own little world. That’s what I’m talking about! At the end of the day, we hugged with gusto. They were proud of their work. (See some of their photos on the first page of my website at www.mothering-mother.com).

Active, vital engaged people don’t sit around waiting and worrying about something “getting them.”

They’re too busy creating, planning, and working at things that really matter to them. 

I think we ward off a lot of icky crap by simply refusing to give in. Whatever comes, comes, but I still say that the joy and passion you gain by really giving yourself to others, or to somethng you deem worthwhile is better than dreading what might or might not happen.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon and in most bookstores.

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