Lessons Learned in Care Giving

I recently had the opportunity to try on a new skill set due to circumstance, not choice. Luckily, exploring the role of caregiving opened my eyes to the intricate dance involving responsibility, compassion, and kindness. As I embarked on the journey of full-time (but thankfully short-term) caregiving, my mind kept reminding me, “You Are NOT a nurse; you NEVER EVER wanted to be a nurse! You are an attorney.” It became obvious to me that the skill set that had allowed me much success as an attorney throughout my life did not translate seamlessly into caretaking finesse.

So what did I do? I charged into this nursing role like I would any legal problem; like a warrior. I worked really hard, physically and emotionally, to be the best caretaker I could be. I worked hard to understand the medical terminology, communicate with doctors, nurses, and support staff, juggle medications, manage meals and physical care, and the list goes on and on. Could I nurse? Yes. Was I great at it? No. There were times when I felt I had done a task well, but face it, my bedside manner left a lot to be desired.

Talk about overwhelming! I searched for the lesson and the learning. What I found was a dose of humility and a profound respect for those who are caregivers. Only after I was nearing the end did I realize how much easier it would be next time. Let me share some tips and insights with you should you become a caretaker. From maintaining balance to self-care to strategies for providing the best care for your loved ones, I hope these tips provide insight, and perhaps support, for when you need it.

1. Create a Routine: A daily routine helps create a sense of security and predictability for the patient. This can also reduce the stress on caregivers.

2. Practice Self-Care: As a caregiver, it’s easy to forget about your own needs. Make sure to carve out time for yourself – whether that is exercise, reading, or simply taking a quiet moment to breathe.

3. Communicate Often: Keep the lines of communication open. Ask about your patient’s needs, their feelings, and any changes they may be experiencing. Don’t think you know it all, or that you know best. Listening to the patient can lead to better care and mutual respect. (Remember: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know!)

4. You are Not Alone: Ask for help. Realize that people don’t know what you need. Tell them what you need and ask for help. You will be surprised at the number of people that will say yes and offer to help. There are also support groups and community resources that can provide much-needed emotional support, as well as practical advice and resources.

5. Stay Organized: Keep track of medications, appointments, and important documents. Do not rely on your memory or the patient’s memory. Keep a notebook or use a phone app or other online tools to help manage all the details.

6. Learn About Your Patient’s Condition: Education is key. Attend appointments and ask questions. If your patient has a specific health condition, educate yourself about it. The more you understand their condition, the better you can manage their care.

7. Be Patient: Caregiving can be challenging and frustrating at times. Remember to be patient – with your loved one and yourself. It’s okay if everything doesn’t go perfectly. You’re doing your best. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. You’re not alone in this journey.


Spring Pea Pesto

Quick, easy, versatile, and deliciously vibrant! Use this as a dip, spread, or sauce for pasta. Welcome, spring!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups peas, either frozen and thawed- or use fresh English peas
  • 1/2 cup packed mixed herbs- mint, tarragon or dill
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives or green onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
Directions:In a food processor add peas, mixed herbs, lemon zest, lemon juice, chives (or green onion), salt, pepper and olive oil.Pulse for a few minutes until the peas break down but are still textured.Serve immediately or store in the fridge for 3 days.Enjoy!
Feasting At Home: Spring Pea Pesto

Invest In Yourself

February, the month of love, is typically when we express our affection and adoration for others: our partner, children, parents, grandparents, and other special people. This year, I encourage you to honor that one very special person… YOU! Self-care is not a luxury; it is a necessity. It is easy to get caught up with meeting the needs of others and overlook our own needs. When we do that, it is to our detriment. Make February a month that you take time to appreciate yourself. Do those special things for you! Pamper yourself. Fill your tank. You deserve it. Think: What is one thing you can do to show yourself some love? Now Think Again: What is one more thing you can do to show yourself? See how easy that can be.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries are a classic Valentine’s Day sweet – and the perfect option whether you intend to share them, or devour them all yourself!

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • toothpicks
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries with leaves
Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate and shortening in a double boiler, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  2. Insert toothpicks into tops (stem ends) of strawberries. Hold a strawberry by the toothpick and dip it into the chocolate mixture.
  3. Turn the strawberry upside down and insert the toothpick into a Styrofoam block or place strawberry on a sheet of waxed paper; allow chocolate coating to cool. Repeat with remaining strawberries.
AllRecipes: Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Don’t Let The Online Spooks Haunt You!

It has been exciting to welcome all things fall recently. However, this email is about things that may haunt you and cause you difficulties and suffering. So, pardon me if I get a bit more serious this go-round, as October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. In our world, where many aspects of our lives are tied to our computers and online connection, our online safety has become more significant. Around the globe this month, a month-long campaign is waged to raise awareness about the ever-evolving cyber threats and the crucial measures individuals and organizations need to take to protect themselves against these risks.

Below are five easy tips to help keep you, your family, and your information safe online. I know you are busy. I know it is not easy. I know you think you have better things to do with your time. I also know innocent people, like you and me, who have been victims of cybercrime. Given what scammers and con artists can take from you if they get into your cyber world, the time and effort you take NOW can save you much more time, energy, money, and damages tomorrow.

Brains & Gains: The Importance of Brain Health

In an increasingly fast-paced and demanding world, the significance of maintaining optimal brain health cannot be overstated. Often dubbed as the body’s most intricate and essential organ, the brain serves as the command center for every facet of our existence, from decision-making and problem-solving to emotions and memories. As research continues to uncover the intricate interplay between lifestyle choices, mental well-being, and cognitive function, the imperative of preserving and enhancing brain health becomes all the more evident. Nurturing our brain’s vitality through mindful practices and informed choices is paramount to leading a fulfilling and cognitively empowered life.

I have shared below six tips for helping maintain brain health in your day-to-day life. These are easy to practice and will help your overall health, not to mention help keep your brain in tip-top shape.

Tips for Your July 4th Holiday Weekend

Make Sure You Have All Your Fourth of July Party Supplies

Whether you are heading out to your backyard, or getting together with family or friends, the Fourth of July holiday is the unofficial start to summer and backyard party season. Here is a quick checklist to make your Fourth of July planning easier. Make it even easier by asking others to help. 

Fourth of July Party Checklist

  • Folding table, picnic table, festive tablecloth & napkins (maybe even a centerpiece!)
  • Lawn Chairs, folding chairs, camp chairs, umbrellas, or shade tents
  • Paper or plastic plates, cups, and eating utensils
  • Plenty of fresh water; a water dispenser & a cooler
  • Smores sticks, marshmallows, chocolates, and graham crackers
  • Bug spray, sunscreen, citronella candles
  • Flags, party favors, fireworks
  • Sprinkler, pool, water guns
  • Music, playing device, portable speakers
  • Backyard games, cornhole, dodge ball, badminton, Twister, or cards
  • First Aid kit
  • Towels, blankets
  • Paper towels and cleanup supplies

Now that the party is underway plan for a SAFE 4th of July. Here are a few tips to keep everyone safe during the festivities.

4th of July Safety Tips

  1. Before using any fireworks, read the instructions and labels carefully.
  2. Designate one responsible adult to monitor and be responsible for all Fireworks. Ensure your firework handler wears protective eyewear when handling and igniting fireworks.
  3. Create a Safe Area where you plan to ignite the fireworks. Ensure that friends and family are at a safe distance away and that trees, shelters, or shrubbery are not in the trajectory of the fireworks.
  4. Know where your water source is should anything unexpected occur. Keep a filled bucket of water handy. (the dog will love that!)
  5. Keep a keen eye out for the kids and people that act like kids during the fireworks.
  6. Have everyone maintain a safe distance from the fireworks to protect them from potential harm.
  7. Trash fireworks that didn’t light. Don’t relight. Wait and then soak those fireworks in water before disposing of them properly.
  8. Protect Your Pets! If your pet doesn’t like the noise of fireworks, leave them at home. If you bring your pet with you, make sure they are cool and comfortable. Their paws are sensitive and burn on the hot pavement just like your hand would. If it is too hot to touch for 10 seconds, it is too hot for your pet.

Tiny Habits to Improve Your Life

One of life’s rewards is having great friends that are bright, successful, articulate, and full of valuable information. For those of you that don’t know Mary Kelly, I am pleased to introduce you to my friend, Mary. Mary is an international speaker and the author of 15 books on topics such as leadership, business, and economics. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy and devoting over 20 years on active duty in intelligence and logistics, she retired from the Navy as a commander. She has a master’s degree in history and economics, a Ph.D. in economics, and always has a wealth of information to share. You can read more of Mary’s wisdom at https://productiveleaders.com. But first, enjoy Mary’s article on Tiny Habits You Can Do Today to Improve Your Life.

Tiny Habits You Can Do Today to Improve Your Life

Living your best life means something different to everyone. Your definition may be drastically different from the people close to you or your co-workers.

One of my favorite moments last week was talking to my Lyft driver. A retired chemical engineer, he drives because it is how he gets other people’s honest perspectives. “No one is trying to impress anyone during a drive,” he pointed out. “Passengers are honest about their lives and their opinions, and I learn from everyone.”

I love his perspective. He is fascinating! Why waste time when you can learn from talking with other people? His role of driving for a few hours a day evolved from his tiny habit of learning from someone else every day.

It is important to remember that there is a lot we cannot control, but we do have control over small amounts of time, and tiny changes in attitude and perspective make a difference.

Many people do not realize that small things add up to big things.

For example:

1. Walk a mile a day. That is 365 miles you walk that year.

2. Drink four ounces of water every hour from 7 AM to 7 PM. That is forty-eight ounces of water.

3. Write for 15 minutes a day and you have a manuscript in 90 days.

No matter where you are, you can improve by making minor changes. Tiny habits, compounded over time, produce amazing results.

Here are nine things you can do right now to change your life and increase your level of happiness:

1. Practice habit stacking. If you have been meaning to read more, but cannot seem to find the time, take the 5 minutes it takes your coffee to brew in the morning to read. Do not reach for your phone. Grab your book instead. This commitment is much easier because it is not a lot of time, and you are already spending that time waiting for your coffee. Another example is to floss right after brushing your teeth. You are already in the bathroom, so flossing is the next logical step.

2. Incorporate the 2-minute rule. Instead of committing to something for 20 minutes every day, commit to 2 minutes. Decide to walk for 2 minutes every day. Relieve stress by doing deep breathing exercises for 2 minutes. Clean out a drawer for 2 minutes. It is much easier to do something for 2 minutes than it is to carve out time for 20 minutes.

3. Set clear boundaries. Boundaries are necessary to keep us sane in both our personal and professional lives. Do you want to be available for clients 24/7, or would you like to handle business only during standard business hours? I know that I habitually work on weekends, but I don’t expect others to if those are not their working hours.

4. Identify the person you want to be. Use the right words to describe the type of person you want to be. Are you trying to quit smoking? You are a non-smoker. You are trying to become less messy? You are an organized person.

5. Find your community and join them to further commit to your habits. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people helps you keep that positive mindset. Think about going to the gym. We may not feel like going to the gym, but once we get there, we see other people who are working out and making an effort, so we do the same thing. It is the same at work. Align yourself with others in your industry or others who share your goals. Allow other people’s success to be a source of motivation.

6. Get back on the wagon. None of us are perfect. Donuts are my kryptonite. I really like donuts. One of the best donut stores on the entire planet is Horseshoe Donuts in Monument, Colorado. They have apple fritters, that way about 4 pounds. And they are delicious. Everything they have is delicious. I have dreams about their donuts. But I also don’t get to eat donuts every day. I might treat myself once every few months, but eating one donut is a treat. Eating donuts three days in a row is a habit. There are consequences for the donut. If I have a donut, I have to be extra healthy for a few days. If I skip a workout, I recommit to working out tomorrow. Most of us have good habits, so we cannot allow slip-ups to derail progress. Get back into positive habits right away. It is far easier to restart the habit immediately than to start all over again days later.

7. Don’t break the chain. Tracking your habits gives you a visual reminder of the progress you are making, and make sure tracking is a visual reminder of your attainable goal. For instance, if you want to improve your writing speed and skills, consider a goal of writing five hundred words per day for 30 days. Every day that you write, draw a giant x or smiley face on the calendar. After a few days, you may not feel like writing, but you don’t want to break the chain. At the end of 30 days, consider tracking for another 30 days. Seeing your progress gives you increased energy to keep moving forward.

8. Choose concrete goals instead of abstractions. “Getting healthy” or “start going to the gym” are not concrete goals. They are too abstract, and they do not lead to healthy habits. Instead, choose to do one easy health-related commitment, such as doing five sit-ups a day. You improve health, but the time investment is minimal. At some point, sit-ups every day will become second nature – a new habit – at which point you can add another tiny habit.

9. If you start too big, make your tiny habit tinier. We often set habits that are still too big because we are used to thinking big. If you cannot run for 30 minutes, drop it down to 30 seconds and add 30 seconds every day. If you cannot get motivated to go to the gym, let your first tiny habit be doing a jumping jack at home. Then your second tiny habit can be filling your water bottle. These tiny habits are meant to become automatic movements that you just do not think about once they are ingrained. In the end, all these tiny habits build on each other, and you will find yourself at the gym or running for 30 minutes.

Tiny habits are the stepping stones for our lifestyle. If something is not working, or we are not living our best life, then it is time to explore how to change our tiny habits, so we receive the outcome for which we work so hard.

Adulting 101: Your Living Will

You may have heard people speak of a “living will” and wondered what they are talking about. A living will is also called an advance health care directive. But, no matter what you call it, every adult needs a legal document that tells your loved ones and doctors the medical care you want if you cannot make those decisions yourself.

Your living will outlines the procedures, medications, and treatments you want or do not want to prolong your life when you cannot make those decisions for yourself. Additionally, it can address if and when you want life support removed and whether you want hydration and nutrition supplied if that is the only thing keeping you alive. If these decisions need to be made and you haven’t provided specific instructions, decisions will be made, and they may not be the decisions that you would have chosen.

Don’t confuse a “living will” with a “last will.” A “last will” sets forth what happens to your property and wealth after you die. A living will sets forth what medical treatment you want while alive.

A healthcare or medical power of attorney is another part of advanced healthcare directives. The healthcare power of attorney is the legal document that names who will make the healthcare decisions for you. Simply put, a medical power of attorney names those who can make medical decisions in the event of your incapacity, while a living will explains what medical care you want.

A living will is a vital part of every adult’s estate plan, as it can ensure your medical treatment is handled exactly the way you want if you cannot communicate. Without a living will, your loved ones are left to make difficult decisions which can result in conflict, stress, and guilt.

We all know that unforeseen illness or injury could strike at any time. Don’t wait to plan. We can assist you to ensure your medical treatment and end-of-life care is tailored to suit your unique needs and wishes and provide counseling and guidance in decision-making.