The Sandwich Spot

This week’s topic is: WATCH WHAT YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH. Yes! For me, this equates to stress eating.

Balancing or attempting to balance life is a daily struggle. Clothes to wash, groceries to buy, dinner to cook, work, and loving on my family/friends means I’m constantly in motion. So, to offer myself a little comfort, I eat…SNACKS. This is not good.

Ok. Since I’m being transparent, let me put it all on the table. Yesterday, I ate three Rice Krispy treats and a chocolate bar. Also, I went to Panera Bread with the intention of buying a toasted cinnamon crunch bagel with honey walnut cream cheese. I know I know. Fortunately for me, the toaster was down.

Now, if I was working with someone, I’d offer these tips to curve this bad habit.

  1. Practice prayer and meditation.
  2. Understand the stress point origin. Why are you stressed? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Perhaps you need to take a good look at your responsibilities, enlist help, create a system, or remove something from your plate.
  3. Purchase healthy snack options. Fruits, crunchy vegetables, or healthy popcorn with flavored water can fill the snack.
  4. Exercise or go outside (weather permitting). Hit the gym or take in some deep breaths and go for a walk.
  5. Call a friend. It’s always a good idea to vent to a trusting friend.
  6. Listen to music.

I hope these tips keep you focused and balanced (or as close to it as possible). My go to strategies are: #1, #4, and #6. Implement as many tips as you need to maintain focus and wellness.

Which strategies are you committed to implementing?

Felicia

Live. Love. Laugh

The Sandwich Spot

Hello Everyone!

I know day to day caregiving can be difficult. Many days, you may experience a lot of physical and emotional drain. Please don’t stop. It’s important to be present with your loved one. Even if he or she is difficult. Even when they are having “bad” days. Be there. Be intentional. Be present.

I have great memories of driving my mom to her doctor’s appointments. She lived in a different state. So, to get up at o’dark 30, drive 2 hours to pick her up, then an additional hour to the appointment was physically draining. However, on the drives, we talked. She shared. I shared. After the appointment, we would get something to eat. The favorite and most requested spot was Cracker Barrell. If I was pushed for time, we’d run to a fast food burger spot. Yes, I ordered her a burger, fries, and a drink! Why, because she asked for it and I didn’t deny her wish 😊. Now that she’s gone, I have those memories tucked away in my heart.

Friends, make your memories each day. Decide to be intentionally present even when you are tired. Now, I don’t remember how tired I was on those long days. What I do remember is seeing my mom smile, driving with her, and sitting across from her sharing a meal.

Live. Love. Laugh

The Sandwich Spot

Hello Everyone:

Financial concerns are at the top of the list for the sandwich generation. Think about it, not only are you concerned about your security (retirement, college, day to day life), now you must consider the short and long-term caregiving costs of your aging loved one. Sometimes, when the two worlds collide, it’s not pretty.

I wish we pre-planned. But, we didn’t. We were “thrown” into the ocean and have been going against the tide for a while. If you are in the ocean (or not), here are three tips for your financial process.

 

  1. Know your elder’s financial status

This means having a conversation about income, debt, and savings well before you need to manage financial affairs. If you’re past that point, it’s doable. But, a little more complex. You must access their financial records. Once you have access, you’re able to identify recurring bills, debt, and savings. You’re now able to assess their financial stability (or instability).

  1. Know your own financial status

Taking on the responsibility of caring for an elder, in some cases, means you will utilize part of your income to meet their needs. If you’re already struggling, this process can be difficult. There’s still hope. If finances are an issue, there are senior services available in every county. Contact the senior services organization and research supportive services. This can help alleviate some of the stress.

  1. Seek financial assistance

Seeking financial counseling from a knowledgeable and reputable source is ok. It beats beating your head against the wall. Be careful; there are plenty of scammers out there waiting to take advantage of your situation. Ask for referrals and contact your local aging organization for referrals. Interview potential advisors. They should be compassionate and not quick to have you sign paperwork. Trust your gut.

I know this is a difficult process. Often, this conversation is left for another day. But, I promise you, you will thank yourself for having the conversation early. You can’t deal with a problem that you don’t know exists. Meaning, you must bring it to the surface before a plan can be developed.

You can do! You must do it!

Live. Love. Laugh (even through the financial discussions 😊).

The Sandwich Spot

PREPARATION BEATS REACTION

That is a powerful statement. It’s even more powerful when you’re living its reality. I cannot stress the importance of preparing to care for your elder. When a baby is on the way, parents prepare for the arrival. Various items are purchased to ensure the baby’s well-being. You may not be in the caregiver mode right now. If not, great because this provides you with time to PREPARE!!! If you are deep in the caregiving business, it’s not too late to take some initiative and secure these necessary legal documents.

Things to consider:

While the elder is legally competent, secure a power of attorney for healthcare, power of attorney for finances, and a living will (advance directive).

  1. Power of attorney (POA): This necessary document allows an individual to appoint an agent to act on their behalf when they are unable to do so. Typically, this document is necessary for business transactions.
  2. Health care power of attorney: Allows an individual to appoint an agent to make medical decisions on their behalf when they are unable to do so. This person should be aware of the elder’s wishes (see living will).
  3. Living will (advance directive): States an individual’s wishes in case they are unable to communicate their choices.

A few considerations.

  • You can create the legal documents independently and finalize the process with a notary and two witnesses.
  • Or, find a local attorney to create all three documents.
  • Everyone is not equipped to manage financial resources. Selecting a trustworthy person is necessary to ensure peace of mind.
  • Likewise, some people are overwhelmed with healthcare needs and processes. Make sure the healthcare POA can manage medical situations.
  • For both agents, select someone who is trustworthy and able to properly carry out the required tasks.

I realize this can be a difficult process. Discussing the necessity for such documents can cause the caregiver and elder to become uneasy. Remember, it’s better to know in advance your loved one’s wishes rather than guess when faced with a decision. Also, having these documents prepared in advance relieves a lot of anxiety for all parties.

Happy preparing!!!

Live. Love. Laugh

The Sandwich Spot

SHIFT

Last Wednesday was a mess. A real mess.

The night before we were scheduled to leave, we had a plumbing issue. PLUMBING!!!!

This came after a few days of dealing with finances to ensure everything was covered for our older adult while planning the details of a much-needed vacation.

I’m over it.

Completely over it.

This is when I had to have an internal chat with myself.

Prior to everything settling down, I had to SHIFT. I REFUSED to allow these issues to dampen my excitement. Yes, it’s a mess. Yes, it will probably cost a lot of money. But, for a few days, I will get off the emotional roller coaster and have FUN.

So, here’s my advice to you.

Some days, weeks, and months may have multiple issues. That’s life. All sandwich generation people know this fact. Children get sick. Older loved ones get sick. Trouble at work. Home issues. Financial concerns.

Don’t allow your peace to be disturbed by these problems.  Yes, I said ALLOW. You have the power to shift your response to these events. Are they difficult? YES. But, you must maintain a positive mental space. The alternative does not yield positive results.

Word of the day—SHIFT.

Shift your thoughts. Shift your response.

In the end, we secured placement for my mother in law and our vacation details were finalized.

The plumbing issue turned out to not be a huge problem.

Imagine how awful things could have been had I lost control of my emotions.

Happy shifting!!!

Live. Love. Laugh

The Sandwich Spot

Four tips to prevent caregiver burnout

As promised, this week’s blog will focus on taking care of yourself. Listen, this is not an optional step. It’s not a suggestion. It is VITAL that you, the caregiver, take care of yourself.

Picture a hot summer day. Scorching hot. You’ve been outside for a few hours and in desperate need of water. Someone hands you a cup and says enjoy. You put the cup to your mouth only to realize it’s empty. Nothing. You tried to pour cold water from an empty cup. That doesn’t work.

Now consider your loved ones needing your help. You can’t. There’s no energy, desire, or stamina. Nothing. Because of that, you cannot pour into your family.

This, my friend, is labeled caregiver burnout.

So, how do you prevent caregiver burnout?

Build a support network.

#1: You need a tribe. A trusted individual (or two) to listen to the vent sessions. Those people who will support you through difficult decisions. You know the people who will bring a meal when you are over and done. You cannot survive the caregiving journey alone.

#2: Create a schedule. Living life on a whim doesn’t work when you’re responsible for multiple people. Create a list of to-do items. You don’t have to be responsible for all the items.

#3: Take time out every day.  Being a caregiver is hard work. It can take a toll on you physically and emotionally. Take time in the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of your day to just deep breathe. I would encourage you to practice mindfulness. Find a quiet spot in your home and declare this spot as your time out space. Here’s the key: Make sure you can be undisturbed for 10 min (minimum). Sit and focus on one positive thing. I like to focus on an affirmation.

#4: Exercise. This may be the farthest thing from your mind. But, keeping yourself physically healthy is important. Again, you can’t pour from an empty cup. If your body isn’t healthy and functional, you are limited in your caregiving ability. I don’t mean run a marathon or go hardcore bodybuilding. Just walk a little. Add strength training to your daily routine. ***TALK TO YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE STARTING ANY EXERCISE ROUTINE***

Taking care of others is hard work. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done (mentally, physically, and financially). I hope these tips help you think about how to better take care of yourself. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Fill your cup.

Live. Love. Laugh