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Caregivers of Older Adults Blog | Spirituality & Aging

Has tradition changed the way we are caring for seniors?

By mmLearn.org on Thu, Jan 15, 2015 @ 01:43 PM

It had to be the coldest day of the year, but there she came with her head wrapped snuggly with a beautiful brightly colored scarf, her long woolen coat that hung loosely over her severely curved back but with a look of sheer determination as she walked through the door of the chapel. I greeted the 90 year old at the door and asked if I could help her. Her old, but kind eyes looked up at me as if to say "don't you know?" I had forgotten it was the first Friday of the month and she had come to light her candles - after all that was what her mother had taught her and she never forgot .It was a tradition that had been passed down to her.

Being careful not to be obtrusive, yet feeling a need to assure her safety, I stayed quietly in the background giving her some time and space for prayer. As I watched her carefully light each candle, I was very moved by the beauty and grace of this woman as she knelt reverently in prayer. Even from my safe distance I could hear her heart-felt words - not asking for anything - but rather a sincere prayer of thanks for the many blessings she had received. It was not just a prayer, but the ease and comfort with which she spoke; she was having a conversation with a good friend.

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Fall: A Time of Reflection

By mmLearn.org on Thu, Oct 09, 2014 @ 10:16 AM

"Autumn has come in its predictable way; the heat of summer is giving way to cooler breezes in anticipation of winter. Change is in the air. For all of us, the changing of the seasons is a reminder that we, too, must change. In fact, it is an apt metaphor for our need to adapt to the ever-evolving circumstances of our aging lives."  

Author Patrick Abore, Ph.D. eloquently captures the importance of paying attention to the stirring within each of us as the movements of the seasons call us also to change.

Just as the season changes when the weather starts turning a bit cooler and nights get longer, so do our thoughts change as we begin to reflect on letting go and releasing those things in our lives that may have become burdensome. If you have recently become a caregiver for a parent, a spouse or other family member, there may be many changes in your life; some that may be causing difficulty or anxiety. Perhaps the person you are caring for has always lived an independent life, but now requires help to accomplish even simple tasks. Think about how difficult it must be for them to adjust to these types of transitions in life - going from something old and familiar to something new and unfamiliar. 

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Caregiving: Grokking Your Way to Caring

By Cyndy Marsh on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 @ 04:13 PM

We often hear that one way to keep our brains sharp is to learn new skills.  Learning new words and their meaning certainly falls in that category.  The word “Grok” was actually coined by Robert A. Heiniein for his 1961 science-fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines to grok as “to understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with” and “to empathize or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment”.  Now that undoubtedly sounds like family caregiving!

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Quality of Life for Seniors: Over the Hill or a New Beginning?

By Cyndy Marsh on Fri, May 16, 2014 @ 09:05 AM

May is the month designated to celebrate Older Americans and we’re reminded of getting older when we see the celebrities on the cover of the AARP magazine getting younger and younger with each issue. At what point do we become “older” and perhaps feel we’ve just gone over the proverbial hill? AARP has become the standard-bearer for determining the age to become old officially at 50 by sending an invitation to join the ranks of everyone 50 and older! Not so fast, AARP also reported on a Canadian study showing that “our cognitive-motor skills – meaning the speed at which we process something and then react to it – peak by age 24, then begin to diminish slowly.”  Now speed certainly isn’t everything – anyone over 50 can tell you that! What some older folks may lack in speed, they can certainly make up for in strategy, efficiency and pulling from years of experience and knowledge skills.

At a time when our youth-oriented culture encourages all to cling tightly to our fast-fading youth, when is the time to truly embrace our age and revel in the well deserved time of honoring and accepting with full gratitude the time we have left? Often we get so caught up in the past and wanting to recapture or reclaim the springtime of our lives without recognizing the many blessings of the present and the years still ahead. In her book, The Gift of Years, author Joan Chittister writes in a chapter about aging and letting go, “A burden of these years is the temptation to cling to the times and things behind us rather than move to the liberating moments ahead.”

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Caregivers: Providing a Mother's Touch!

By Cyndy Marsh on Wed, May 07, 2014 @ 11:42 AM

While the earliest history of Mothers Day dates back to the ancient annual spring festival when the Greeks dedicated this day to maternal goddesses, the history of Mothers Day also goes back to the 1600s in England. This was named Mothering Sunday and it was celebrated annually on the fourth Sunday of Lent to honor mothers. America didn’t get on board until 1908 when Anna Javis first suggested having a national observance of an annual day honoring all mothers because she had loved her mother so much. It actually took an act of congress and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

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Challenges of Caregiving: I’m a Caregiver – Do I Matter?

By Nina Rios on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

How often do we see someone in a wheelchair or in a hospital or nursing home and not even notice or acknowledge the caregiver close by? On a recent Twitter Chat, the topic of discussion was loneliness among seniors and family caregivers.  The conversation lit up with comments from professional as well as family caregivers and their responses were often times heart breaking:

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Caregiver Stress: The Other Side of the Doorknob

By Nina Rios on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 @ 11:36 AM

As you place your hand on the doorknob to enter a room do you ever stop to think about what you might encounter on the other side of that door? What will you find or experience as you step over the threshold? Anytime we are about to walk into a room what waits for us on the other side of the door may be an expected scene or perhaps something so surprising and unanticipated that it may change our life or the life of someone else! As caregivers, regardless of whether we are caring for someone in our home, a nursing home, hospital or hospice, we probably experience these moments of not knowing what to expect each and every time we walk through the door to extend care for our patient or loved one. Learning ways to cope with what often times is unexpected is an important aspect of caregiving.

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Called to Stand - A Lenten Reflection for Caregivers

By Cyndy Marsh on Thu, Mar 06, 2014 @ 03:55 PM

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Hope for Caregivers: Blooming Amidst Dreary Winter Days

By Cyndy Marsh on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 @ 10:33 AM

In South Texas, we’re pretty accustomed to 100-degree weather in the summer, but winters’ occasional freezes, icy roads, and temperatures in the mid-twenties cause all kinds of havoc.  Much to the delight of children and probably teachers, school closings are common, along with a record number of car accidents and that’s without a trace of snow on the ground. But it may also be those dark dreary days of winter that can sometimes cause the elderly and may be even their caregivers to feel depressed or just out of sorts. Perhaps it’s just a matter of becoming resilient to our particular circumstances that helps all of us withstand the test of whatever challenges we deal with on a regular basis. 

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Caregiving: Where do you find the strength?

By Cyndy Marsh on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 @ 04:04 PM

A mother-daughter relationship can be quite complex.  Beatrice was not the oldest in her family, she wasn’t the closest to her parents nor was she particularly fond of her mother, with whom she had always struggled to find a connection.  But now her mom was widowed, in her late eighties and in need of assistance due to severe health issues.  When her older sister called to let her know their mom could no longer live alone and would need someone to stay with her, and asked her to consider being the caregiver, Beatrice was stunned!  Could she do it?  Would this possibly be an opportunity to finally make things right with her mom?  Was it too late for that relationship she had always wanted?  As these questions all swirled around in her head, she decided with much trepidation to plunge into the role of caregiver feeling this might be her last chance to make up for all the lost years of being estranged from her mother.

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