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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.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

10 Steps to Becoming Dead Right


Life is a journey. Death will come when it comes, no matter how often the topic is avoided, how forcefully technology wrestles it to the ground, or how sincerely pleas for more earthly time are requested. Accepting the certainty of death can be so much easier when it’s approached like any other important life event. By following a workable plan, you can enjoy comforting closure when that ultimate destination is reached. Consider these 10 steps featuring scenic routes on your journey to becoming dead right:

10 Steps to Becoming Dead Right

      1. Accept death as part of life.

Death will come to everyone. Empower yourself by dealing with this reality.

      2. Listen to the Universe.

Some say it’s the Universe. Many use God, Higher Power, or other names. If you believe you are part of an infinite enlightenment, be still and listen.

      3. Expect rainbow smiles.

Rainbow smiles are joyous, healing, memorable moments that come more often when anticipated.

      4. Live a healthy lifestyle.

Practice habits of healthy living in all areas of your life.

5. Be informed and proactive.

Keep abreast of what’s happening in life. When circumstances arise that can benefit from your input, apply what you know.

6. Do your best.

You can’t solve every problem or be everything to everybody. Do what you can.

7. Give service to others.

Complement others by fulfilling needs through service. Both server and recipient benefit from this win-win partnership.

8. Be grateful for blessings.

Blessings come like wondrous celebrations held in your honor. Let appreciation reign!

9.  Put death wishes in writing.

Fulfillment of your end-of-life wishes will often depend on what you discuss and record now. Get medical, financial, and property decisions in order.

10.  Have a dignified death journey.

Breathe in your final phase of life with contentment. Experience a dying process that brings beauty and calm to your personal letting go.

© Frances Shani Parker
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes 


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.