Advice from an Experienced Family Caregiver

by Janet Simpson Benvenuti

Recently, I spoke with Elizabeth Barge, Norfolk, VA, to glean her insights about caring for aging parents. Elizabeth has spent the last five years supporting the needs of five elders – her parents, step-father and in-laws – in a family of nine siblings in a blended family of adults, a situation that would overwhelm most of us.

Here are her five insights.

First, focus on doing THE NEXT RIGHT THING. This will keep you from being overwhelmed; doing the next right thing will always result in forward progress.

Second, start laying the foundation BEFORE you have to act on it. For example, she called and asked the director of the assisted living facility where her parents were living if she needed to start looking for Memory Care. The director answered an emphatic YES, so she started looking for Memory Care centers close to her home in May. When her parents needed to move from the assisted living facility in September, she was ready.

Third, be conciliatory toward siblings and step-siblings. Sometimes they just want to know someone heard and maybe considered their point of view.

Fourth, accept that you can only work with what you have, therefore NO GUILT. If parents are too private about their affairs and not willing to allow adult children in as confidants, then when the mind goes, said adult children can only do the best they can with the information they DO have. When you do the best you can with what you have, there is NO GUILT.

Finally, the opinion of the guy/gal who does the hands on care for parents gets the MOST weight. Period. In her case, the other eight siblings and the spouses accepted that and thanked her at her step-father’s funeral for taking such good care of him. “In baseball vernacular,” she said, “I was the closer.”

Elizabeth is what I often call the ‘designated child’, the one who does most of the hands-on care for parents. If you’re that adult child in your family, remember that you’re not alone. I hope that you find Elizabeth’s words of wisdom helpful, that you focus on the next thing, without guilt, and that, in the end, your relationships with your family, spouses, partners and siblings deepen knowing that you did the best you could.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your insights with us.

Why Do Men Die First?

92016-why-men-die-first
by Janet Simpson Benvenuti

Women outlive men by six years. Heart disease in some men begins at 35. Like you, I never questioned why until I read Why Men Die First by Dr. Marianne Legato. Dr. Legato, professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University, has been studying the differences in health between the sexes for decades. Her research found several ways to help men avoid premature death, summarized by Don Fernandez at WebMD.

Here are five suggestions to lengthen the male lifespan.

1. Speak candidly with a physician. Although men are inherently more vulnerable than women genetically, their cultural conditioning encourages them to take risks, deny pain and show no weakness. Those social pressures make them reluctant to seek medical help and speak frankly to their physicians. Mothers, spouses, sisters and friends play an important role in helping men reach out for help before a medical condition worsens.

2. Men are biologically predisposed to infection. Boost the immune system with proper diet, exercise and sleep. Avoid infections by using condoms and keep immunizations, including tetanus shots, up to date.

3. Treat depression. Like in women, depression is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and older men are more likely than women to become suicidal and take their own lives.

4. Watch young adolescent males whose lifestyle make them vulnerable to injury or death.

5. Assess the risk for heart disease and take steps to lower risk factors. Some men, especially those in stressful jobs like firefighters and police officers, show evidence of heart disease as young as 35.

For more insights and guidance, listen to this 30-minute video posted by Second Opinion, an informative discussion about why men age more poorly than women.

Together, let’s help our sons and spouses, brothers and nephews lengthen their lifespan.

c Circle of Life Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

Listen to Bipartisan Policy Center discuss Long-Term Care

Lonely adult child and parentby Jan Simpson Benvenuti

On Monday, April 7th at 1pm EST, the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. will host an event to discuss sustainable ways to finance and deliver long-term care services. The numbers are staggering. Today, there are 12 million seniors, veterans and disabled adults who need long-term care support and services; that number will jump to 27 million by 2050. As anyone who has cared for a loved one can attest, the time, energy and expense involved in supporting an ill family member can easily deplete a family’s resources, compromise the health of the family caregivers, and disrupt careers and relationships. Listen to the broadcast here.

 

© 2014 Circle of Life Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

ConnectedVisits – Telehealth for Family Caregivers

by Janet Simpson Benvenuti

Each month I meet or speak at length with a dozen or more entrepreneurs across the country working on innovations in health care and healthy aging. Periodically, I will feature one of these businesses to keep you informed about new products or services that may help you better support your parents or grandparents as they age.

One new venture is ConnectedVisits founded by Dr. Krishna Gazula, a brilliant man whose passion is to help families and health care teams communicate more effectively. Like some of you, I was the “designated daughter,” the family member who drove my parents to their medical appointments and discussed their care with their physicians. With ConnectedVisits, other family members or health care specialists such as a social worker or nutritionist easily could have joined those conversations, improving communication among all and saving me considerable time and energy repeating the physician’s guidance to everyone involved with their care. When needed, my sisters and brothers also could have attended some of those appointments virtually and their physician would have had ready access to x-rays and other medical information on-line while talking with us.

ConnectedVisits intends to raise funds next month to further develop their product. You can follow their work here.

Have you had any experience with telehealth?

c 2013 Circle of Life Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.