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Archive for the ‘eldercare’ Category

“If you can’t go somewhere,
move in the passageways of the self.
They are like shafts of light,
always changing
and you change
when you explore them.”
Rumi

I know that it has been a long time since I’ve posted here. It has been a continual litany of responsibilities that keep me too tired to write or even desire to put thought towards this blog. I have chosen swimming, walking, movies, eating, reading, working, etc. over having to think about and reflect upon the daily drills of elder care. In the future, I will write about some of the elder care experiences I’ve had in previous months, because for now, I am much more home bound; my Dad has fallen and broken a rib. I am in the midst of finding extra help. My parents are bucking this process on so many levels. I get they are feeling powerless. In their eyes, I am taking over another aspect of their independence they are not ready to give up; how they want their money spent (not on outside help) and having their space “invaded” and being cared for by someone other than family. Of all the different challenges I have encountered through this process, dealing with their emotional instability is the most difficult. Moody, confused thinking, irritability, are part and parcel of my daily encounters. I MUST and WILL find time to get quiet. I know that in the quiet, I get to visit those “shafts of light” Rumi talks about. Those places in my soul that I remember loving in the quiet and the stillness of my youth, amidst even the bouts of disquiet living with a sibling with mental illness. In the quiet, I will pray the same 3 favorite prayers of author Yolanda VanZant. 1) God Help Me 2) God Help Me Now 3)Thank You. I’ve been praying prayer #2 and prayer #3 a lot lately. The help is arriving…I know I’ve been heard.

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I hold the space for my parents to experience the beautiful truth in the amazing poem and short movie below by Derrick Brown. I wish I could gift them the knowledge of this truth as they live and breathe in this moment now – as they live for each other as if there were no tomorrow. Can I hold this truth in my heart and live my own life more fearlessly? Gosh, and if I did…what beautiful poetry would I write? And,… what courage could I impart to my Mom and Dad to calm their disquiet, as I hold their hands while we three walk this HOLY path at dusk.

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“WE COME INTO THIS WORLD ALONE, WE LEAVE ALONE…AND EVERYTHING ELSE IS A GIFT”

A couple of posts ago I  mentioned  how sad I was when I heard Whitney Houston passed – her voice and spirit were such a blessing. Her light and amazing voice brought so much joy to the world, and I felt so badly that she died by herself with no one by her side. As I elder care my parents, I hope that my hand will be the one they hold when they cross over to the other side. I want their passage to be less lonely even knowing that it will be something they do alone. This role I hold and the event of Whitney’s passing made me reflect about what I would want for the end of my own days. The week after Whitney’s passing, some words and a melody came to me – I would be driving my car and would find myself singing this song – a little obsessive really, almost as if being channeled through me. I eventually started carrying a tape recorder so that I could record my composition. Although my voice is softer than I’d like to sing this, I still wanted to share it because I feel I could at least sing what the words have to say and get my intention across. Someday, I hope to hear it sung by someone with amazing pipes, good breath support, who can sing it with a passion – somehow I think those who come to the time of their last breaths would want others to know and be mindful of these words to know how to “be” with them. I cannot stress enough how much composing this song, writing a blog, taking an artsy photo of my parents, or any other creative practice helps me to process and move through the stress of this tremendous responsibility that is with me 24/7. My creativity is seeing me through on so many levels….when I am in touch with that inspiration I feel like spirit is holding my hand and helping me find my way.
Just a note – when listening to my song, imagine hearing it sung by say a Jennifer Hudson,  Reba McEntire,  Gladys Knight, or even an Andrea Bocelli – I am hearing a rich, deep toned voice of an artist who’s done some living. Then wrap the trumpet of Chris Botti around the edges to create a pensive, passionate, thoughtful resonance. To hear, click on sound link below.

 c2012hartleyjames

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When Whitney Houston died, I felt sad. Not only because she was no longer gracing our planet with the amazing voice that she had, but also because she had died alone.  When I thought about how much joy she had brought to the world, that lonely ending didn’t feel fair. I have a few posts to write about this as how it relates to eldercaring, but for this one, I just wanted to include the link of her performance of “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.”   I find this song very inspirational as I wade along in this role as eldercare giver.  I wanted to share this video with those who are reading this blog who are walking this same walk with me in their own lives with their parents. Our common paths link us in a way that no one else can really understand unless they are in the same position. This experience challenges me to find my own strength on every level as I’m taking care of my parents pretty much on my own.  There are some really tough days. I’m surviving.  The thriving is found in the moments of consciously knowing what I have discovered about my self and acknowledging the courage it takes to do this job. To ackowledge the work it takes on a daily, sometimes moment to moment basis, is to surrender to what needs to be done, without resenting it at the same time.  Resentment is a spirit killer and so is shame – it can slip in under the door so easily – that’s why carving out more time for myself is necessary.  That precious “me time” is where I get to bask in the consciousness of knowing “I got to know my own strength.”  Bless You Whitney… and bless my parents for continuing to teach me on this journey.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFj87cZZTFE&feature=fvsr

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My Mom fell the other day.  I wasn’t home. The phone rang when she was taking a nap and she rolled over to answer it and landed on her butt, somehow.  She was lucky…again. And, so was I.  No broken bones. But, that night her ankle swelled up and she was moving the speed of the old man character that Tim Conway played on the Carol Burnett show.  I asked to sleep on the couch close to my room so I could easily hear her and wake up and walk her to the bathroom if she had to get up in the middle of the night.  I stayed home with her the next day just to make sure she was getting her bearings again and could walk without my assistance just using her cane as usual.  She was better by the end of the next day.  My Dad was sad she slept out on the couch and she wasn’t sleeping by his side that night. He took an extra long time to say goodnight, prolonging the inevitable by continually kissing her on her forehead and milling about, stalling about going back to their bedroom alone.  With hesitation, he eventually, finally went to bed alone. The next morning after I made her breakfast as usual, which is before my Dad gets up. She then went back to their room for her morning nap which ends when he gets up in the late morning. I popped my head in to make sure their pathways were free of obstacles when they did get up. I discovered them both awake, hands on each other’s elbows, smiling at each other.  She was reassuring him that she was okay.  It was like they were little kids who knew they were getting to play together at least one more day,  you know? In that moment, they got that what they had was the “present moment” which is all anybody ever really has.  At this point in time, it’s a rare thing to see them cognizant like that;  sharing an awareness in that way and both at the very same time. That was a sweet image to witness, one I hope not only to remember for a very long time, but also one I want to be a model to living my own life.

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See Michigan House Bill #5046 (passed 2009) – companies that do not allow public access to individuals who need the use of a restroom can be fined up to $200. Individuals who have medical conditions which effect their bladder and bowels can have their Doctor write a note stating this on an official script to show shop owners who normally do not allow their customers to use their employee only restrooms. Just an FYI here. Hope it’s helpful.

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It is a beautiful Sunny Sunday. A warm wind blows and keeps me comfortable in the bright sunshine as I work outside in the yard. I feel very present and conscious today – as cliche as this may sound, it feels very grounding to be outside and working in the dirt. I would take an August full of these kind of days even if it meant a shorter summer. I am weedwhacking in the front yard and I am wearing protective ear gear for the loud sound of the motor. When I shut down the machine, with the ear band still on, I watch the leaves and plants move around in the silence. The head gear muffles out everything except the softest of undefinable sounds. I welcome the quiet; afterall, I live in a household where the volume settings are always at max. Of course, I think of my Dad at this moment because he can hardly hear. I am looking around our yard and breathing in all the beautiful greens and telling myself this is an amazing day and to remember it. The silence isn’t deafening;it has heightened my visual acuity and I wonder if my Dad ever feels that way? Does he look around at Nature or read emotions on faces with a more acute sensibility as I am enjoying in this moment? I tend to think he probably concentrates on what he is missing which I can understand because he has no choice to hear while I can simple choose to take the “earplugs” off and hear again.  As I look out into the yard I see a bird flying, but with very little sound coming in, the visual makes me feel that the bird is in slow motion…hmm?  Old age has slowed both my parent’s down, but perhaps their hearing loss has hastened the process? The loss of hearing has slowed their world down;especially for my Dad. His gregariousness has no place to party.  He tries to engage in conversation with strangers, but frustration shows its ugly brows when my Dad still hasn’t understood after the fifth repetition of the same response.  I am craving the quiet; my dad is needy for conversation. Our differences get magnified by the silence and the difficult dialogues to bridge it.  I have started to communicate more by writing on dry erase boards, which again, my Dad dislikes. But, I am tired of shouting. There is something that happens physically upon the third, fourth, or fifth time of repeating the same response – the adrenaline rises to an angry annoyance even though my mind knows it’s not his fault he can’t hear. Writing is much more calm. If he doesn’t get it, he reads it again.  This is a very good alternative to shouting.  A good alternative to ear plugs too.

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