Helping Older Friends & Family – Vol. 427, Nov. 9, 2017
Over the past couple of months, I have been helping an older friend of mine who has been diagnosed with chronic heart failure. There are many things that have changed in his life as a result of this diagnosis, especially as he works to stabilize his condition. There is a morning regimen that needs to be adhered to, that at times he is less than interested in dealing with, as he is used to being totally independent, doing what he wants at the moment. However, this is not the case now. There are many doctors appointments, weekly visiting nurse visits, physical therapy and a low sodium diet to keep fluid from being produced in his body. On some mornings we get “into it” because he really hates waiting the requisite hour between having his medications and having his vitals taken, through a machine that sends all the measurements to the visiting nurse agency. On these days, I know that I need to “take space” and do.
There is a person that I know from Toastmasters that is a single adoptive daughter who feels compelled to help her father who has Alzheimer’s and a mother who is very abusive, both declining as they are aging. She is always complaining about the abuse that she takes, the fact that she has to be at the house at certain times to give them medications, feed them, etc. It is clear that this situation is taking away her life and that she is struggling with the situation.
The question that we have to ask ourselves is this: Are we able to be warm and present most of the time, or are we feeling angry and resentful and perhaps a bit depressed, given the situation at hand?
If you are feeling anger, resentment or depression – feeling overwhelmed, you need to get the extra help required to assist you. Many times there are agencies that can help with respite care so you can take the time you need for yourself. The senior centers are full of helpful resources as are the agencies that work with elders. Social workers at the hospitals are also very helpful if your loved one was admitted and is going for ongoing care to one of their outpatient clinics. Please do yourself and the person that you are caring for a favor, and tap into these resources. Because in the end, the only person that can help you, is you, by reaching out to the community services that are there to help you.
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