Sunday, February 24, 2013

Older Adult Abuse From Family Caregivers (Daughter’s Video 2:52)

Do people realize the full impact of statements they make about what they would never do, particularly when they are judging others? Many things people said they would never do, regrettably, they have done. This brings up the topic of older adult abuse by caregiving family members. More and more cases are being reported. This abuse can be physical, psychological, and exploitative. It often occurs in shared living situations with caregivers.

Everyone has a breaking point, a moral boundary that must not be crossed. Caregivers overwhelmed with depression, guilt, anger, and other stressors may have difficulty not crossing over this boundary, even when they know they shouldn’t. This is one reason why caregivers must always be mindful of taking care of and monitoring themselves. Assistance from others is not only helpful, but also mandatory to prevent abuse from happening. Healthcare workers can help with these needs and refer caregivers to other resources.

Caregivers need respite time away from patients to share their experiences, gain information from others, and relieve stress. They need programs that save time and make them feel that they are cared about. They need others to be their caregivers by temporarily relieving their burdens, sharing an uplifting activity, being good listeners, and providing encouragement.

What can happen when family caregivers reach their breaking point and cross over? In this video titled Breaking Point, a formerly abusive daughter shares her frightening experience of abuse toward her mother and how she changed:

You can read more about older adult (elder) abuse from a multicultural perspective here:

Frances Shani Parker, Author

Sunday, February 17, 2013

African American Hospice Caregiver: Patient, Dementia Poem

With federal marshals guarding her from angry mobs in 1960, first-grader Ruby Bridges integrated William Frantz Public School in New Orleans, Louisiana, my hometown. In protest during the first year, all parents withdrew their children from the school.

Dying is universal. A hospice volunteer, I come together with my patients as strangers and often discover, even in our differences, that we share similarities that bond us to higher levels of understanding of one another and ourselves. Shared similarities can include race, language, talents, occupations, travel, values, joys and even common pain.

My book Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes concludes each chapter with an original poem. I was moved to write the poem Deeper Than Words while watching my hospice patient sleep. I thought about our shared African American history that bridged our communication beyond her dementia. This poem is dedicated to Miss Loretta, Ruby Bridges and our awe-inspiring ancestors.

Deeper Than Words

The outside world arrives
wearing my willing face.
Toothless, your smile widens
like a baby’s hungry for attention.
Almost ninety-eight years old,
your inner candle still glows.

A hospice volunteer, I lean closer,
talk into your listening left ear,
“Today is Sunday, Miss Loretta.”
My news drifts away like smoke.
You stare at me through dying coals.
Whatever I ask, you whisper, “Yes.”

I stroke your age-softened arms
while your hazed mind masters sleep.
Watching you, I dream generations
of women black and strong, each one
a book of sustaining stories
about joy, pain, courage, survival.

Within your warm brown frame,
spirits from our common history linger.
Aides say you have dementia,
that you don’t know a word I say.
Our language goes deeper than words.
We speak to each other’s souls.

© Frances Shani Parker

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.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Alzheimer's Dementia: Love Before and After (Video 4:42)

If you know a good love story, share it. George and Adriana Cuevas have a great love story. Beginning 87 years ago, their love reigns eternal. They met as children with trillions of dreams and no certainties about their futures. Distance sat between them for 15 long years. But they continued as pen pals until love brought them back together like inseparable magnets.

The day finally arrived when their love was celebrated in marriage. Children followed with lots of reasons for George and Adriana to cherish their mutual joy while stringing memories together. But dementia, a terminal illness with many challenges, also became an integral part of their relationship. Sometimes love is too magnificent to explain, but the story must still be told. When The Mind Says Goodbye does that:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers in America and other countries and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mardi Gras Celebrations in Older Adult, Senior Communities (Video 1:25)

Parties and small parades are common in nursing homes and other older adult communities in New Orleans and other cities celebrating the world-famous Mardi Gras or Carnival season. It's a great time for fantasy, food and fun! The Mardi Gras season begins on January 6 and continues until Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday begins the Christian season of Lent. Mardi Gras day makes its annual debut this year on February 12, 2013. Street parades attracting huge crowds of local residents and curious tourists occur daily. Parades are held during the day and at night.
Growing up in New Orleans, I loved this magical season. Mardi Gras parades created wonderful memories for me. The excitement of swimming in an ocean of festivities, the buoyancy from living fantastic fantasies thrilled my senses. They connected me with the same wave of wonderment flowing through every child who ever lived on this planet.
As a hospice volunteer and traveler, I have had the good fortune of seeing entertaining Mardi Gras merriment enhancing quality of life in older adult communities in various cities. I store all my Mardi Gras memories in a marvelous, mental, treasure chest painted with purple, green and gold brush strokes, the official colors of Mardi Gras. I always smile when I look inside. No doubt, amused older adults will be smiling this Mardi Gras 2013 and many Mardi Gras seasons to come.

Upcoming Mardi Gras Dates:
(Mardi Gras can fall on any Tuesday between February 3 and March 9.)

  • February 28, 2017
  • February 13, 2018
  • March 5, 2019
  • February 25, 2020
  • February 16, 2021
  • March 1, 2022
  • February 21, 2023
  • February 13, 2024
  • March 4, 2025
  • February 17, 2026
  • February 9, 2027
  • February 29, 2028
    March 5, 2030
    February 25, 2031,
    February 10, 2032
    March 1, 2033
    February 21, 2034
    February 6, 2035
    February 26, 2036
    February 17, 2037
    March 9, 2038
    February 22, 2039
    February 14, 2040
    March 5, 2041
    February 18, 2042
    February 10, 2043
    March 1, 2044
    February 21, 2045
    February 6, 2046
    February 26, 2047
    February 18, 2048
    March 2, 2049
    February 22, 2050
The celebration at the Catholic Charities Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)  features older adults celebrating with a Mardi Gras ball including a king, queen, maids and dukes of the royal court. Plenty of sparkling apple juice is provided for toasting! This brief video is an example of Mardi Gras celebrations held in many older adult communities. Let the good times roll!

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers in America and other countries and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog