The Art of Listening… to ourselves

HARD OF HEARING WOMANHow often have you found yourself stunned by a particular situation only to find in retrospect that it was right in front of your face for a very long time but you just didn’t process it – you just didn’t see it?  How often do we walk into a situation confident we know what’s best when in reality, if we had just listened and paid attention a little bit better, we could have helped a great deal more effectively because we responded to the real need?

Listening to our gut is another key form of listening.  Often we know what’s right or what’s best but we don’t listen to that nagging feeling because it may upset the apple cart.  And here’s the thing, when we do decide to make that change, upset that apple cart, it gets harder before it gets easier.  That’s just a tried and true fact which makes us stay the course and not listen to ourselves.

We KNOW our spouse, or our parent shouldn’t drive anymore.  But if we take those keys away, who will drive to the doctor, or the grocery store? Oh, probably us, but we don’t have time,, or maybe we don’t have the energy.   We know deep down our loved one is suffering from dementia but we don’t admit it; we hide it, even from family because if we ask for help others may think we can’t handle it anymore.  If we share our fears, our fear is that we won’t be allowed to handle it any more.   When a situation seems out of our control, we don’t always listen to our gut because we fear losing our independence or our “edge.”

Loss of independence is the biggest key reason people don’t and won’t ask for help.  However, the reality is, just a little bit of help can keep you independent so very much longer.  Just a little bit of help can keep you juggling all your balls in the air.  By having someone do the tasks that put you at risk, that take your stress level over the edge, you are more able to do all the things you CAN do without fear of failing or falling, or hurting yourself or someone you love.

Phoenix is rich in services to help those who are aging.  Most of these services are private pay, but there are also services and agencies to help those who may not have the means for support services.  Call or email our office for help in finding services that can help your situation.   480-833-8247 or elaine@visitingangelsaz.com

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Wishing for a Fairy Godmother

fairy godmotherWhy I blog.  I was told to blog (well technically, I was mostly told to share my stores, blogging is the avenue that exists today to do so) – by many… those who I talk to every day who are taking care of their parents, by my sisters who take care of my Mom in Wisconsin, and by colleagues, and friends who listen to my stories when we sit at happy hour.  This blog is for caregivers of aging loved ones.  Whether you are a spouse, sibling or child of an aging loved one, I will offer relatable stories, resources to assist with your struggles, tips that can reduce your stress and help with putting together the pieces of a very complex puzzle.

Sadly I have relatable stories.   I meet incredible people who are stuck in what appear to be impossible situations and we trouble-shoot, strategize and problem solve, and then sometimes we cry together because sometimes life just sucks – for the moment.  Here’s the thing – you are not alone.  Sometimes, most of the time, many caregivers feel alone because there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can do what we do, and balance what we balance and be able to solve what needs to be solved the way we do it!  We feel alone and maybe angry, and definitely frustrated because we can’t reach out to that fairy godmother that will make it all better at the sweep of a wand.  There is no miracle cure.  I’ll venture that 99% of us don’t consciously think of a fairy godmother, but all of us unconsciously wish for it. (I admit it here – I’m in that 1% because I love the idea of the Disney magic and glitter floating amidst the harsh realities life presents us occasionally.)  We wish for that warmth and calm that comes from the hug after we fall down.  Caregivers need that warmth even though it’s not a conscious thought.  It’s what puts the compassion and love back in our hearts, the jig back in our step and the resolve back into our actions.

So, to wrap it up on this first edition, and to make Point #1 in this journey I am beginning, the fairy godmother in this story represents help.  Men don’t like to accept help because they are the providers and in their minds they can figure it out.  Women don’t like to accept help because we are the givers, the doers, the movers and shakers who try to do it all.  We mostly succeed, but at what cost? In the case of a caregiver, help IS NECESSARY.  No matter how small, or what shape it comes in, say “YES” to someone who offers to help.  Say yes to someone driving your carpool.  Say yes to a neighbor who offers to sit with your wife so you can play golf.  Say yes if someone offers to make you a meal.  And, just as importantly, learn to say “no” when you are over-committed and KNOW you don’t have the time to add one more thing to your plate this week.

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