Light of Gray

Elder Care Expertise

Light of Gray is Moving!

In 2015, Light of Gray is evolving into Grand Family Planning. Please visit our new site, learn from us and give us your feedback!

Thanks for your interest and have a Happy New Year!

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7 Habits of Doomed Caregivers

Caregivers are often faced with this dilemma, and the self often loses.

Caregivers are often faced with this dilemma, and the self often loses.

These days, I am reading the powerful Stephen Covey classic “The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People.” The principles outlined make so much sense to me, I feel as if everyone else probably knows them already. But in reality, few embrace proaction and effective living. This knowledge comes, in part, from my membership in the caregiver community.

Family caregivers are some of the nicest, most sincere, hard-working and generous souls on the planet. They are also some of the least healthy, most angry and stressed out people who draw breath. I am often frustrated by the things they say and do, because they are quite clearly destroying themselves. Too many of them die young. Many more injure themselves permanently and wind up needing care (too often without the necessary resources or plans in place to enable their own adequate care).

To drive the point home, I offer the Seven Habits of Doomed Caregivers:

1) Always do exactly what your loved one asks as soon as they ask no matter how unreasonable it might seem. After all, they are your (fill in the blank: mother, father, grandparent, etc.) and they always knew best (at least once upon a time).

2) Do everything yourself. No one else cares enough and nobody can do it all as well as you can, right?

3) Never take a day off. You’re strong. You can handle it. Your loved one can’t go on like this forever, can they? Maybe it just seems like forever.

4) Never ask for help. People will only let you down. If you ask and they say “no,” it will only make things more awkward. If they say “yes,” they won’t do what they promise. Or they’ll make you sorry you asked.

5) Don’t see your doctors. It’s hard enough getting your loved one to their doctors, so you don’t have to go for your own visits. Who has the time? You’ll be fine. Until you aren’t.

6) Don’t vent. People will think you’re crazy. Or weak. Or exaggerating. So hold it in. Until you can’t and explode.

7) Give up doing everything you enjoy in order to spend the maximum amount of time with your loved one and to save as much money as you can. Life is short but seems much longer when you don’t have any fun, ever.

I see people making these terrible decisions all the time. And there’s no pay off, no good reason for it. They usually have options; they just choose the wrong ones out of some misguided idea that the old rules somehow still apply. THEY DON’T.

Once a loved-one becomes ill and you are in charge, TAKE CHARGE. If you are caregiving a parent, once you start paying their bills and taking responsibility for your parent’s life, you must also have AUTHORITY. If mom or dad make unreasonable demands, your life-long programming will compel you to comply. But you must learn to fight the impulse. Because what they think NOW is generally irrelevant. They are failing. They are frightened. They want control. But they are no longer capable. You need to take control. That’s not easy, but it’s essential, for their survival and yours. You are the adult now. You have the experience, strength and perspective to make the best decisions. They no longer do.

And if you need help, ask for help, hire professionals, and educate yourself as to the resources available.

Facing caregiving alone, following the seven habits outlined above, is a recipe for disaster. Please don’t succumb. Life is too short to be squandered on wreckless caregiving. Be more effective and proactive. Develop a team. You have the right to live your own life, on your own terms. It’s a shift you can make happen if you have the will. Use your strength wisely.

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Alzheimer’s Caregiving May Be Wrecking Your Health – reblogged

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marie-marley/alzheimers-caregiving-may_b_5487494.html?utm_hp_ref=fifty&ir=Fifty

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Video on Advance Care Planning (ACP)

Here is an excellent video, produced in Singapore, that addresses the need for addressing difficult topics with parents sooner than later.

Dementia, Caregiving and Life in General

If you’re wondering what ACP or Advance Care Planning might look like, there is lots of information on the web. But there’s nothing like a story to illustrate it better. Here is a video made in Singapore.

It’s a bit of a tear-jerker, so get your tissues ready if you’re the type.

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What is Grand Family Planning?

Grand Family Planning Logo

A new way for families to ensure their well-being.

 

Every family has needs that are constantly changing. The more members, the more complex. And today’s family often consists of grandparents, parents and grandchildren. As children grow and leave home, they sometimes return. Parents age, living much longer than ever before, and start needing help from their adult children. No family exists in a vacuum.

Love and necessity connect us. But law and finance can present us with obstacles. When the time comes, will you be able to advocate for family members who can’t speak for themselves? Who takes responsibility for what? How will expenses be managed? Where is everything? How can you begin to prepare? Can’t this all wait?

Grand Family Planning helps to answer these questions and more. By working with a team of professionals, you will understand what questions need to be asked. Priorities will be set, recommendations will be made, and introductions to all the right strategic partners will bring you a seamless and highly productive experience. Membership in Grand Family Planning will help you to achieve peace of mind through ongoing advice and support, offering integrated services at significant discounts, providing stress relief and direction for your entire family, from grandparents to grandchildren.

If this resonates with you, visit Grand Family Planning to sign up now for notification when we launch in the Fall of 2014 in northern New Jersey. Call 973-962-1880 or email info@grandfamilyplanning.com. For more ideas, visit GrandFamilyPlanning.com.

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Avoiding Shark Bite

If you look at this clip, you may move the playhead to 32 seconds. This scene has been resonating with me a in big way lately, because I have been running into a lot of people who are like the Mayor of Amityville. The difference is, these folks don’t have a shark problem. They have a family problem.

As we get older, things change. Parents start needing more help. Often, they try to hide their problems from us, not wishing to be a burden. Or they just don’t want to acknowledge their issues. They may be frightened, too. No one wants to be vulnerable. Denial is an extremely powerful defense mechanism.

Adult children tend to minimize the issues, too. They have their own lives. Mom and Dad aren’t complaining, not exactly, but you feel it in your gut. You know something’s not quite right. But you’re focused on what’s going on right in front of you, and that’s a lot. Maybe it was just an aberration. Everyone has bad days, right?

Then something definitive happens. A fall. Evidence of confusion. Wandering. You can’t ignore it anymore. And it could be too late. The shark may already have your cheek in its mouth.

Then there are those who become caregivers to their folks, by design or by accident. They become so involved in their parents’ issues, they ignore their own: their health, their children’s needs and the fact that they, someday, may need the kind of help they are furnishing to their parents for themselves.

So what’s the answer? “Grand Family Planning.” Start talking to a professional today. You can’t start soon enough. Because if you see a fin in the distance, you can get away in time. You can get a bigger boat. You can prepare for what’s coming. But if you wait until the shark is hanging from your butt, you have a much bigger problem that’s a lot harder to solve. Contact Light of Gray today and keep the sharks at bay.

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Another Grown-Up in the Room

Respect for authority must sometimes be hired

Respect for authority must sometimes be hired

At a recent talk I gave for adult children of aging parents, a woman who was struggling with her cantankerous father asked me what subjects were “worth bleeding over.” What battles do you fight until your stubborn parent relents?

I thought for a moment and told her that was very subjective and based on the family in question. However, one piece of advice I did offer is this: have another grown-up in the room.

Wait a minute, you may be thinking; I’m an adult. My parent is an adult. Why can’t we just work this out for ourselves?

Well, no one is saying YOU can’t. But if you can, you’re in a very rare and blessed position.

Simply put, no matter how old you become, you will ALWAYS be a child to your parents. No matter how capable you are, no matter how much they may respect you and revel in your achievements, the family dynamic established in your childhood is extremely difficult to overcome. When a parent becomes less able, and they are frightened of what will become of them as they continue to lose ground, and they are unlikely to discuss that fear with their children. If you were The Baby as a child, you continue to be The Baby as an adult, even if you’re a successful captain of industry.

So what can a child do to gain some leverage in this most difficult and contentious of situations? Bring in a pro. It could be an elder law attorney, a financial advisor, a psychologist, a trusted physician or any combination. The idea is to bring in someone with authority in a field related to the situation in which your family now finds itself to be part of your team.

Bringing to bear certain expertise can ease the anxiety inherent in addressing the need to act. After all, your parent has been around for a long time. Everything that needs to be done now is counter-intuitive to everything they’ve done up until this point. So not only do you seem like an upstart, you disrespectful, tactless ingrate, you’re forcing them to confront ideas that scare the hell out of them. It’s much better for everyone concerned if the bad news is delivered by a knowledgeable, caring and highly competent professional. Someone who can explain the situation and offer sensible plans to deal with what may be coming can be an invaluable ally.

This is an overlooked quality the right professionals bring to the conversation. They’ve seen it before, and perhaps been through it themselves (as I have). Delivered with sensitivity and authority, the actions required in planning can be accomplished more readily and effectively with their assistance.

So, as you come to the realization that your time has come, by all means, start the conversation. If you’re thinking about it, do it. Don’t wait. But don’t be surprised if you get push-back, and know that this is completely normal. Arm yourself with resources and allies, go back and get a plan in place. You’ll feel better, and once they’ve met the other grown-ups you bring to the proceedings, your parents will, too.

Please note: I will be giving a talk at Ringwood Public Library in Ringwood, NJ at 7pm on Wednesday, Feb. 19th, 2014. Bring your questions.

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Not Guilty! February 19, 2014 at 7pm at Ringwood Public Library

Not Guilty!

Not Guilty!

Light of Gray presents the Fifth in a series on Elder Care talks at Ringwood Public Library

“Not Guilty! Coping with Emotional Upheaval Around Family Caregiving”

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 7pm

Aging isn’t for sissies, but most of us do it anyway. How we age is very individual and dependent on many factors. Few of us go through it in a vacuum. Family comes into play, and the residue of our early relationships tends to cling to us as we go through life. We redefine ourselves as we mature and our needs change, but family members don’t always grow and evolve along with us. Hilarity, hysteria and irrationality often ensue.

Who takes care of what? Who can speak for whom? How do siblings divide responsibility without killing each other? Who pays for what?

Tracey Lawrence, elder care expert, will take you through the process with humor, sensitivity and common sense advice for families in transition.

For more information, visit Light of Gray or Ringwood Public Library.

To register for this free seminar, please call 973-962-6256.

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I’m Worried About Mom, February 6, 2014 7pm at Ridgewood Public Library

Tracey's Caregiver Blog

Tracey’s Caregiver Blog

“I’m Worried About Mom; Turning Worry into Meaningful Action”

Speaker:
Tracey Lawrence, elder care expert

No one likes to think about sad, difficult topics, especially when they have to do with people we love. But change is inevitable, and planning can make life easier for everyone. The key is starting a family conversation when everyone in the family is able to participate. Waiting until family members begin showing signs of decline is not the best strategy.

Covered in this seminar will be ideas for getting families organized and able to discuss the difficult subjects; who needs to be involved? What questions do you need to address? What requires immediate action and what can wait? Do we need to use professional services? We will look at care choices, insurance options and documentation every family should have in place.

Ridgewood Public Library is located at 125 N. Maple Ave, Ridgewood, NJ.

For more information, visit LightOfGray.com or ridgewoodlibrary.org

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Legal Ease at Ringwood Public Library January 29, 2014 7pm

Light of Gray presents the Fourth in a series on Elder Care talks at Ringwood Public Library

legaleaseLegal Ease

When it comes to having the support of their loved ones, many seniors believe they can simply tell people that they would like certain family members to speak for them. Unfortunately, there are all kinds of “protections” in place that prevent that from happening.

In the interest of saving money, many families will try to do it themselves, or seek resources through the internet. But hiring the right professional can save you thousands of dollars, not to mention anguish and heartache.

What documents should every family have in place? What’s the difference between estate planning and elder care planning? Learn about important benefits you may be missing out on and new legislation that affects the way we are treated and how well our families can represent us.

Robert J. Romano, Jr. is an elder law attorney who has been practicing law for more than thirty years and is a frequent speaker on these subjects.  Mr. Romano is known for his friendly down-to-earth style.  He will answer these questions and more in a clear, concise manner, easily understood by the lay person at this important free seminar.  Don’t miss it!

For more information, visit Light of Gray or Ringwood Public Library.

To register, please call 973-962-6256.

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