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Friday, April 18, 2014

Brush Park Manor Detroit Writing Workshop: Stories of Successful Aging After 60 -- Frances Shani Parker, Facilitator







Heartfelt stories tucked inside had aged into whispers needing to be shouts. Stereotypes of life after 60 portraying them as declining old people waiting for life’s finale had persuaded some to even question their own testimonies. What energizes life after 60? What celebrates worth of the worthy? An exciting workshop partnership between  Brush Park Manor, an independent living community for older adults in Detroit, and Poets & Writers, Inc. was the answer.
Participants came together in a mutual quest to find out what really matters in life for them now and how they could inspire aging journeys of others. They created win-win personal narratives that helped them discover more about themselves and one another. An enlightening collection of stories representing their personal truths evolved through focused introspection and sharing.



These are some successful aging gems from their stories:

    1. Joyce Alfaro enjoys traveling to many countries now that she has time.
    2. Nathan Anderson stopped using drugs and counsels other addicts.
    3. Bessie Ardis keeps in touch with her family at reunions.
    4. Dorothy Bell cherishes her freedom to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it.
   5. Barbara Jean Carter plays music and crochets to relax and be creative.
   6. Mildred Everette enjoys meetings and trips with the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program.
    7. Charity Jackson teaches the Enhance Fitness exercise program to fellow residents while improving her  own health.
    8. Thomas Jackson takes pride in photography and singing.
    9. Harriet Jenkins feels glad that her husband still thanks her for being his caregiver a few years ago.
   10. Edward Leonard shares with others life lessons he’s learned.
   11. Leila Marshall looks forward to new experiences and people in her work as an evangelist.
   12. Harold Massingille's postretirement job as Brush Park Manor service coordinator brings him    appreciation and  smiles.
   13. Helen Presley reveals that life is truly worth living. She finds comfort in reading her Bible.
   14. Bettye Roseboro’s faith strengthens her through trials in life and makes aging wonderful.
   15. Dorothy Wise, a heart and kidney transplant and cancer survivor, declares she is a miracle.
   16. Barbara Young keeps busy with committee work and dating her male companion.
     
You probably noticed negative stereotypes about life after 60 are missing. Now, that's successful aging!



Bessie Ardis (above) was our oldest writing workshop participant at 93 years old.


 Workshop facilitator Frances Shani Parker (right) reviews another inspiring story.

You can view 16 workshop luncheon celebration photos at this Detroit Free Press link.

This event was funded in part by Poets &Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from Poets & Writers, Inc. Detroit.


Frances Shani Parker, Author

Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Caregiver Resentment: Would They Do It Again? (Research, Video 3:09)


Let’s be real about caregiving. Some caregivers feel depressed, guilty, and trapped in a hole with no way out, except the death of persons in their care. Maybe they were the only siblings living near the parents, the only relatives or friends with resources to provide care, or the only persons willing to step up when others refused. Whatever their reasons, they became caregivers reluctantly, never fully embracing the responsibility, and made the most of the situation. If they had a choice, would they do it again? Some say they would not.

In a study reported in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, factors associated with an unwillingness to become caregivers again were reviewed. Former caregivers of palliative care patients were interviewed. Comparisons between those who would do caregiving again and those who would not were made with these results:

1)   One in 13 (7.4%) former caregivers indicated that they would not provide such care again.
2)   One in six (16.5%) would only "probably care again."
3)   Increasing age lessens the willingness to care again and so does lower levels of education.
4)   Despite most active caregivers being willing to provide care again, a
proportion would not.

This video about relieving stress while caring for an aging parent or spouse presents ways for caregivers to cope.




Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Older Adult Hoarders: Health and Help (Research, Video 3:43)


Do you know any older adult hoarders? You might and not even know it. People with this disorder are far more common than you think. You can usually discern that their need to accumulate goes far beyond just having a messy place. While many hoarders are embarrassed about their extreme living conditions, some are not. I discovered this when a friend I didn’t know was a hoarder actually invited me inside her one bedroom apartment. She displayed no embarrassment about the accumulated chaos.

The entry hall was so packed with stacks of “stuff” that only a narrow passageway remained. This path bordered by mounds of boxes, old clothes (some from childhood), and boxes of TV purchases and other clutter was overwhelming.  When two cats came running up to greet us, I was in shock. Unsanitary and dangerous living conditions such as these, particularly for older adults, puts them at increased risk for fire, falling, disability, and other health risks.

According to the Mayo Clinic News Network, hoarding tends to run in families and may increase in old age after profound incidents such as a death. About 75 percent of the time, hoarding occurs in conjunction with other mental health issues such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcohol dependence, dementia or anxiety. Hoarders in denial may need a team of professionals and loved ones to provide an intervention before they can accept the reality of their condition. Time consuming treatment involves therapy leading to cleaning up the premises and gaining better control in maintainence.

This video shares insight regarding an older adult hoarder who has received a final notice of eviction as he continues to sort through his trash and treasures:




Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Caregivers Managing Home Medications (Research)


Back in the 90’s when I was a hospice volunteer and didn’t know it, I began helping a gay man who had AIDS. I didn’t know him well, but he had little family support. At that time, people with AIDS all over the country were dying quickly. I remember that a nurse taught him a system using pennies to help him keep track of the many medications he had to take around the clock. With great determination, he relied on that system  because he lived alone and knew his life depended on it.

Today, many patients still need more concrete ways to manage their medications at home safely. Not knowing how to do this may be what stands between patients’ tranquility and end-of-life pain and distress. When low-literacy patients leave a healthcare facility with only text directions, they may misinterpret or be confused by homecare directions they were given. Visual aides such as pictographs can be literal lifesavers for them. Aides have proven to be very effective, especially in explaining directions in sequence requiring multiple actions. Even those with high level reading skills may get confused about text-only directions.

In a study assessing family caregivers in managing medications for home hospice patients, survey responses from 98 hospice providers who were mostly nurses reported 68% rated ensuring proper medication management as most important in hospice care delivery. But 33% reported frequent encounters of caregivers with problems managing medications.

To help caregivers manage medications, three approaches emerged:

      1) Teaching them more about the medication to increase knowledge   
      2)  Simplifying the management process
      3) Counseling to overcome attitudinal barriers.

As many as 47% of these hospice providers stated they would benefit greatly from additional resources to help caregivers.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.