Saturday, February 18, 2006

Killing Superwhateve

Killing Superwhatever!

I had this person I knew I was made to be, yet it was mixed in with all of these other…people.

Superpastor is always available to everyone and accomplishes great things but always has time to stop and talk and never misses anyone’s birthday and if you are sick he’s at the hospital and you can call him at home whenever you need advice and he loves meetings and spends hours studying and praying and yet you can interrupt him if you need something – did I mention he always puts his family first?

I had this false sense of guilt and subsequent shame because I believed deep down that I wasn’t working hard enough.  And I believed the not-working-hard-enough lie because I didn’t function like superpastor, who isn’t real anyway.

So I had one choice – I had to kill superpastor.

I meet so many people who have superwhatever rattling around in their head.  They have this person they are convinced they are supposed to be, and their superwhatever is killing them.  They have this image they picked up over the years of how they are supposed to look and act and work and play and talk, and its like that voice that never stops shouting in their ear.

And the only way not to be killed by it is to shoot first.

You have to kill your superwhatever.

And you have to do it right now.

Because your superwhatever will rob you of today and tomorrow and the next day until you take it out back and end its life.

Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis

  1. What is your superwhatever – the image of yourself that you think you have to live up to but down deep know you can’t – that keeps driving you to do and accomplish the impossible?

  1. Do you have a supercaregiver image of yourself?

3.  How do you take it out back and shoot it?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Thoughts on Life Balance, Life Planning, and Time Management for Caregivers

Life Balance is elusive. The concept is simple – everything important gets it fair share of time, energy, and resources. Theoretically, you can figure out what’s important, how much time, energy, and resources it should get, construct a plan, and follow it.

Most of the time our plans fail because of the interruptions – the unexpected and the unplanned. We tend to cram more into the plan than will fit to begin with, and then when the unexpected and the unplanned appear, the plan blows up. Life balance is gone, and time management is in disarray.

Caregiving is one of the big interruptions in life, and with it comes daily unexpected and unplanned opportunities.

Life Balance and Time Management become even more important for us as Caregivers, even when they’re seemingly harder to achieve. If we don’t pay attention to what’s important, we’re going to suffer consequences as caregivers, and likely so will the care receivers.

As in all things, Jesus is our model for how to live a life full of interruptions – the unexpected and the unplanned.
  • His life was full of interruptions: people wanting to be healed, people wanting to be taught, disciples needing explanations, people needing to be fed, children wanting attention, people wanting to discuss and argue, etc.

  • He treated each interruption as important and as an opportunity, as if the interruptions were what he was living for, as if responding to them was his true mission.

  • He was attentive and responsive to interruptions.

  • He treated interruptions as opportunities and challenges, not as threats.

  • He lived his life expecting interruptions. Some writers have suggested that God provides interruptions when He has something special for us to do.

So what can we do to get a handle on these issues?
  1. Be very realistic about what’s important and about what’s possible.
  2. Build a plan that incorporates what’s important, but only accounts for half the available time in order to be available to respond to interruptions.
  3. Expect interruptions, be attentive and responsive to them, and see them as opportunities and challenges.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Is God Awake?

Some of us grew up with a belief that said, “If I don’t get that final prayer asking forgiveness in before I die, I’ll be lost.”  We were so focused on what WE needed to do that we believed that our salvation depended on us doing the right things.

Mankind has seemed to struggle with another similar misconception concerning the power of God in our lives – thinking that we have to get God’s attention, wake him up, in order for him to be aware of our circumstances and take action to help us.  This misconception is as old as man’s relationship with God.

Take a look at the situation in Mark 4:35-41.  This is the time when Jesus was in the boat with the disciples when a storm arose.  Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat.  Frantically, they woke Jesus, asking, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are going to drown?”  After quieting the winds and the waves, Jesus asked them, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still not have faith in me?”

Before I judge the faith of the disciples and find them lacking, I need to recall all of the times I’ve been in the midst of a storm and reacted the same way, feeling I had to get God’s attention so that he would help me.  I’m afraid I’m a lot more like the disciples than I’d like to be.  I still cling to this notion that receiving God’s help depends on me taking action.

Protection from the storm for the disciples didn’t depend on them waking Jesus up – that’s why he questioned their faith.  His protection of them was always present, even while he was asleep.  He was just waiting.  Likewise, our protection from our storms doesn’t depend on waking God up.  His help and protection are always present, even when we aren’t awake to get his attention.  His power doesn’t depend on us.

God knows our needs before we do.  He’s active and at work before we know we need help.

Our prayers asking His help and protection are a response we give to knowing that He is already working in our lives, not an action to awake him to get him to give attention to our situation.  Our prayers about the storms in our lives need to be prayers of faith and thanksgiving for his constant power and attention, as well as requests for his help and protection.  Our prayers need to be more about acknowledging his presence and power, rather than in panic wondering if He’s aware and working.

Know that He is God.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Caregiver Abuse

There are two types of Caregiver Abuse:

  1. Caregiver (usually a paid caregiver) abuses a care receiver.  Abuse can range from withholding care to physical violence.

  2. Care Receiver abuses caregiver.  Most common is verbal abuse, but there can also be physical abuse.  Frequently abusive behavior develops with dementia, but abuse can also occur without dementia.  The abuse may or may not be related to previous abusive behavior.

Prevention and Response:

  1. Caregiver abusing Care Receiver
  • Presence – frequent visits, unpredictable schedule of visits, enlist other family members and friends to have other sets of eyes

  • Attention – ask questions of care receiver and care staff, be observant, keep inventory, be alert for signs of physical and/or emotional abuse

  1. Care Receiver abusing Caregiver
  • Develop and use strategies to minimize care receiver agitation.
  1. Adult-adult interaction

  2. Dementia patient strategies

  3. Avoid co-dependence
  • Involve medical team in helping manage the situation (particularly psych or social work consult and counseling to develop strategies and work with both caregiver and care receiver).

  • Implement alternative caregiving arrangements if abuse continues, particularly if physically threatening (paid caregivers at home, adult day care, etc.)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Biblical Basis for Family Caregiving

The Biblical Basis for Family Caregiving

  • Family members care for family members, whatever their need.

  • One of the Ten Commandments, listed with not murdering, committing adultery, stealing, giving false testimony, defrauding.

  • Giving a gift to God is not a substitute for caring for your family members in need.

  • If family members cannot care for family members in need, then the church is to care for them individually and collectively.

  • Wishing someone well is not the same as taking action to meet their needs

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.  Ex 20:12

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.  Deut. 5:16

For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ 5But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ 6he is not to ‘honor his father’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.  Matt. 15:4-6

You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”  Mark 10:19

If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need. 1 Tim. 5:16

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  1 Tim. 5:8

But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.  1 Tim. 5:4

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’  Matt. 25:35-40.

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  James 2:15-18

Caregiving: Dealing with Rebellion

We had a good session last week discussing how to handle situations in which the person we're caring for refuses to do what they need to do -- take medicine, do their therapy, etc. -- and some ways we can effectively deal with them.

We talked some about why the care receiver may be rebelling and strategies that may help. Here's a brief summary of what we talked about, both as a reminder for those of you who were present and for those who were not with us.

Often, the care receivers are trying to find something where they can demonstrate control because they sense that they have lost control of so much. Even when the way they can exercise control is harmful, having control over something is important to them. Refusing to take their medicine, for example, is a way of exerting control. Often they are also struggling with loss of self esteem from not being able/allowed to do things for themselves. Another common cause of these kinds of actions is loss of position -- feeling like they are being treated like a child.

Here are some strategies that can help:
  • Find another way to give them some control. "Would you like to take your medicine before you eat, or after you eat?" "Would you like to do your breathing treatment before Gunsmoke or after Gunsmoke?" "Would you prefer to walk around the block or walk in the mall?"

  • Talk about what's really going on. Have an adult-adult conversation about why they are making bad choices. Don't allow the situation to become a parent-child interaction where you're telling them what to do and why and letting them move into the rebellious child mode. Treat them as an equal in their caregiving decisions.

  • Help the care receiver take on as much responsibility as possible for his or her own care and well-being. Let the person you're caring for do as much for themselves as they possibly can, even if it takes a lot more time and effort. Let them dress themselves, bathe themselves, organize their day, etc. Our tendency is to want to do everything we can for them, but doing so results in loss of the satisfaction of being able to do for themselves. Anything we can do that helps maintain their dignity is a major contribution to their well-being.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Article: "Help for Aging Parents, and for Yourself"

There's a great article in today's NY Times about caregivers caught in the sandwich -- caring for their aging parents as well as raising children. The basic message is that it's important to draw boundaries to meet needs of everyone, including taking care of yourself.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Caregiving and Depression

If you're a caregiver, especially one who provides care 20 or more hours a week, statistics indicate that you are six times more likely to develop clinical (or situational) depression that the population as a whole. Some studies indicate that over 60% of caregivers suffer clinical depression, and for some caregiving situations, the numbers run as high as 75%.

Clinical or situational depression is a serious condition and requires treatment. The earlier treatment is received, the quicker the recovery. Clinical depression left untreated for long periods may not be reversible. Treatment is straightforward. Most people with clinical depression are treated with prescription medications and/or psychotherapy to develop strategies for better managing the caregiving needs.

Here are three articles available on the web which will provide more information about the incidence of depression in caregivers, give a description of symptoms of clinical depression, and promote ways of preventing depression.

1. When Stress Turns into Depression: Getting Help, Having Hope

2. Understanding and Acknowledging Negative Emotions

3. Stress Management: Tips and Techniques