3 Things I Wish I Had Done When I Moved My Parents to an Assisted Living Facility

3 Things I Wish I Had Done When I Moved My Parents to an Assisted Living Facility

I remember vividly the moment I knew that a major change was needed for my parents. My mom had some major medical complications and needed a level of care my father could no longer provide. I was on the phone with my cousin, wandering through the grocery store, trying to find something to cook for their dinner. This became a nightly ordeal.

His early dementia (that would eventually lead to Alzheimer’s) and her short-term memory loss from a stroke, combined with congestive heart failure, kidney issues, and diabetes meant they could no longer live at home on their own.

Stressed with their care, my job and care for my then teenage son, I was exhausted and unable to care for them as well.

My cousin, sensing my despair, urged me to consider Assisted Living Facilities (ALF’s) so that all of us would be able to live happier lives.

I searched and found the perfect solution—close to my home, affordable and with activities I was sure my parents would enjoy.

Within two weeks, I had them moved in and began renovating their home for sale, confident that life was back on track for everyone.

However, I made a huge mistake. I didn’t consult with my parents on the place I picked out and it caused some hurt feelings. The truth is, most seniors don’t choose to move to Assisted Living.

Here is what I could have done better.

1. Sit down with my parents to discuss the need to move

My parents had lived in their house for 37 years and the decision to move them was not theirs. There were other solutions I should have considered including home care.

2. Involve them in the selection of their new home

Once my parents knew they were moving, the decision had already been made on where they were moving to. I had invested the time to visit and explore all the options-looking at the places that were most convenient to me, were in our price range and had a few activities I thought my parents would enjoy. I never considered where their friends might be living and thought I was being the good daughter by taking care of the details for them. Instead, they felt shoved into a situation without any control.

3. Help them adjust

Being “relocated” was a big culture shock for my parents. Moving from a three-bedroom, two-bath home to a much smaller apartment was difficult in many ways. Besides feeling displaced, they weren’t able to take all their things with them and although I didn’t recognize it, depression set for both of them. I realize now that talking to a counselor may have made it easier for all of us.

My own exhaustion got in the way of making better decisions. 

If you are going through something similar, know There are experts that can help guide you through the process and ease the stress and transition for everyone involved, including social workers, estate planning attorneys, religious organizations, and community organizations that specialize in seniors.

10 Meaningful Ways to Connect With Others This Year

10 Meaningful Ways to Connect With Others This Year

The beginning of another year –

I don’t make resolutions. I don’t believe in waking up on the first day of each year, determined to turn my life in another direction. Those kinds of declarations rarely stick.

Instead, I look for ways to be more present in my everyday life. And for me, the best way to stay present is to stay connected –with myself  – and others.

On one hand (did you look at the picture) I have to have “Me” time – my personal health and well-being depends on it. If I am not fully present with myself, or don’t fill my own bucket first, I am not able to do so for others.

Here Are Five Ways I Stay Connected To Me

Experience Nature – Going for a walk and feeling the breeze in the air lifts my spirits. The sound of the rustle in the leaves, sings to me and the colors are inspiring. It doesn’t matter the season; I find joy in every walk. The pace doesn’t even matter, it’s about moving my body and noticing life blooming all around me.

Read – I love getting lost in a good book and taking a journey somewhere new. I prefer physical books, but on occasion read them on an electronic device. Even audio books are great, especially in the car. Even if it’s only a half hour per day that I escape into another world, it’s valuable me time.

Travel – There are so many places I want to visit and I don’t know if I will get to all of them, but I don’t want to live with regrets that I never went anywhere. Day trips are valuable too; a change of scenery can be an adventure. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine and stay close to home. Venture out and have fun in new places.

Experience – Try something new. Last year I went zip lining for the first time. It was a blast. But if you are not the outdoor adventure type, something new such as a cooking or art class can be fun.

Meditate – Turning off your mind to outside stimuli is a great way to recharge. Sometimes there is so much coming at me from so many different ways that I get overwhelmed. A few deep breaths and some soothing music allow me to drift to a peaceful place.

Now, on the other hand, life is expanded when experiences include others. Sharing time with others opens you up to their feelings, viewpoints, wants and needs. But connecting doesn’t mean just being in the same space together; it is about going below the surface to discover more about each other and how you can add to their lives.

Here Are Five Ways To Connect More Deeply To Others

Be Present – Put away your cell phones and other electronic devices. The emails, text messages, social media posts will all be there later. Paying attention to outside stimuli sends a message you care more about “things” than relationships.

Be An Active Listener – If you are so busy trying to figure out what you want to say next, you really aren’t hearing what others are saying. Someone once referred to this as “having your own motion picture going in your head.” Relationships are so much better when you are both watching the same movie!

Discover Their “Why” – We all bring our learned values and experiences to every relationship. Past events shape our lives. “Why” someone acts or feels the way they do about any situation is directly connected to their experiences. The more deeply you understand others, the stronger the relationship becomes.

Find Common Ground – It’s a natural tendency to want to hang out and get to know people we have things in common with. There are plenty of groups online that help facilitate those experiences. When you don’t know in advance that you have like interests, asking questions about birthplace, hobbies, passions, etc., is a great place to start. A recent acquaintance and I discovered we both attended the same camp at the same time when we were kids during a conversation. It’s a common bond we will always share.

Be Open-Minded – I have a unique set of beliefs, opinions and ways of doing things. They work for me, but I don’t expect everyone I meet to buy into them. My conversations would be pretty boring if everyone agreed with everything I said. I have very dear friends who hold different religious and political beliefs, raise their children differently and view many aspects of life through a different lens. Those actions and views are right for them. We can agree to disagree and we trust each other enough to be open-minded about having ideas that vary from our own way of thinking. It makes for some interesting conversation too!

Did you notice the graphic at the top? Two hands representing 2016 equals 20 digits, not just 10. So here is an additional list of relationship builders for you.

The “Handy” Top Ten Attitudes That Will Make Your Relationships Even Better in 2016

Be Optimistic – We attract what we project out to the world. Always look for the silver lining.

Be Grateful – Appreciate what you already have instead of focusing on what isn’t there.

Be Joyful – Live your life enthusiastically. Savor each moment.

Be Possible – Yes, you can achieve your dreams. The path may not always be clear, but it is there. Believe in yourself.

Be Helpful – Whenever you see an opportunity to make someone’s life better, do it. Not only will the other person feel good, you will too.

Be Kind – Especially with your words. They remain behind.

Be Forgiving – Holding on to hurt and pain will rob you of your personal power. Most importantly, forgive yourself and move forward to better things.

Be Sincere – You’ve heard the phrase, “Say what you mean and mean what you say?” It applies to how you view yourself too.

Be Passionate – Live life to the fullest and give it your all. The rewards are equal to the passion behind the effort.

Be Amazing – Because you already are. Own it!

Wishing you a year of momentous relationships!

The Lesson That Made My Marriage Stronger

The Lesson That Made My Marriage Stronger

I struggle with written directions. Reading financial statements stresses me out and makes my head spin. Following a written recipe is a challenge. I look like an early reader with my finger resting on each word.

Tell me the driving directions or share a recipe verbally and I’ve got it. I can visualize what I hear and I’m off and running, or driving, or cooking.

Back in my college days studying communication, I learned about the different ways people process information. My husband and I are complete opposites. Sometimes our conversations go in circles as we each try to get our point across in different ways.

I know I am an audio-digital learner because I process sounds and I’m sensitive to voices. I can’t hear two conversations at once; I simply shut down. If you talk to me while I’m watching TV, I only hear garble from both sources. The good news is you only have to tell me something once and I will almost always remember. But tell me something multiple times and I tend to get irritated.

“You told me already! I got it!”

My husband is a visual learner. He writes everything down and is a list maker to the ‘nth’ degree. There are envelopes and pieces of paper all over the house on which he writes the same notes over and over.

If I need him to pick up something at the store, he can’t keep that item in his head. He has to write it down. If he can take an empty container with him to see exactly what he needs, all the better. Unlike me, he prefers written directions and is challenged listening to a GPS.

I used to get really upset when he asked me for information, then had to wait for him to to write it down. I would find I would have to  repeat the information several times until he finally had it all on paper. It was incredibly frustrating because I felt he wasn’t listening to me. I didn’t understand why I had to keep repeating myself. I didn’t get why he didn’t hear me.

“I told you already! Why don’t you hear me?”

It took me a long time to understand my husband wasn’t ignoring me. A recent conversation with a friend on communication styles brought my college lessons to the present. Once I remembered we communicate and process differently, it was as if lightning struck in a good way. (No, this one isn’t about my chimney.)

We also handle situations differently too. He wants to solve them immediately and move on to the next thing. If I don’t see a project as urgent, I set it aside until I believe it needs to be worked on.

For him, the perfectionist who wants everything done immediately, hearing it will be done is not the same as seeing it done. He has a hard time with my viewpoint that the project will get done when I’m ready to tackle it, and my timeline doesn’t have to be his. I wish he would take the time to rest and not make everything on his list a high priority.

We still have challenges, but understanding our different styles helped us to find our rhythm and to ease the frustration we both felt.

In order to effectively communicate with my husband, I need to respect and accommodate his learning style of writing things down.

We came up with a thumbs up symbol to let him know that I am taking care of whatever task he thinks I need to be handling; it lets him know I am aware and it is on my list.

What used to irritate us has led us to build a bridge between our different learning styles.

We are both learning patience.

Previously published on The Good Men Project

No Problem is a Problem!

No Problem is a Problem!

Are you starting a new business and need to hire employees? No Problem!

Do you need to fill a customer order? No Problem!

Perhaps source out the right technology? No Problem!

How many times have you asked a question of a business, inquiring if something could be done and the response you received was “No Problem?”

Whether you are asking a waitress for a beverage, a retail clerk for help with a product or a technical support representative to solve your IT dilemma, “No Problem” is a phrase that should be eliminated from business vocabulary.

Take a closer look at the phrase and notice that it is comprised of two negative words, No and Problem. And that is a problem. Mindset experts will tell you that we integrate the words we hear, and although this phrase is commonplace, it tells us that something that should be a positive response actually has negative undertones.

No Problem? I would hope as the customer, that it is NOT a problem. I never imagined it would be. Why would you even suggest that? Any student of positive thinking, (often referred to as The Law of Attraction), believes that what you think is what you attract, and would argue that No Problem attracts, well, problems.

Try this exercise. Visualize saying “Thank You” to someone for a service and hearing them say “No Problem.” Now visualize the same person responding to your appreciating them by saying “My Pleasure.” Doesn’t that feel better? Say the words yourself. Don’t you feel a little more joyful expressing a higher positive response?

Our customers can sense attitudes in business. Organizations with a positive mindset attract and keep far more customers than those that believe in helping themselves before helping others. Connecting with your customers, establishing a friendly atmosphere and creating relationships are the key to successful business endeavors.

The Ritz Carlton Hotel chain requires its employees to say “My pleasure” in response to customer requests. Their culture strongly affirms that they are in business to WOW the customers.

I have had employees tell me they feel uncomfortable using the words, ‘My Pleasure.’ One said it sounded cheesy to her. I challenged her to find other phrases, that were positive, encouraging and put the customer first. She came up with several acceptable phrases, including, “Of course” – “I would be happy to” – “Absolutely” and “You’re welcome” to be used when appropriate.

Without our customers, we wouldn’t have a business. How well we serve them determines if they will come back. Therefore, we need to create a culture of loyal customers that will return again and again.How we treat our customers and our employees matter. It should never be ‘No Problem’ to get something done.

Instead, let the customer know you appreciate their business and you don’t take it for granted.

Because there really are No Problems – Only Situations and Opportunities!

Originally published Pakwired.com

Photo:Flicker / Ulrich Massier

Love Yourself – Father’s Anti-Bullying Song For His Daughter Goes Viral

Love Yourself – Father’s Anti-Bullying Song For His Daughter Goes Viral

Truth be told, we probably all know someone who has been bullied. This dad taught his daughters how to “Love Yourself” no matter what! More than advice, he provided them with tools to make a difference.

I’M BEAUTIFUL – I’M WORTHY –

THOSE MEAN WORDS CAN’T HURT ME!

I’M PRICELESS – I’M SMART – I LOVE MYSELF –

I’M FOCUSSED ON MY HEALTH!

Read my article on The Good Men Project and Check out the video here!

Photo: Youtube/ Khari Toure

Workaholic – A Life Alone

Workaholic – A Life Alone

I wake up most days alone. Not because I am single. I am in fact married. And not because I sleep in another room. I wake up alone because my workaholic husband has gone to work long before the sun is up.

When he gets home, he says hello to the refrigerator before he greets me. Most likely he didn’t eat breakfast or lunch.

He says has to leave early to prep for the day. On the weekends, he has to prep for the next day or the week. He writes and then rewrites the same notes over and over. Yes, he is a little OCD.

His reasoning runs along the lines that as a business owner, no one will care as much as he does. If he doesn’t make the sacrifices, and work early to late six days per week and sometimes seven, then the business might fail.

What he doesn’t get is that what is failing is his health in more ways than one.

His legs ache and he often wakes up with leg cramps. His back aches and he never quite stands up straight. His mind aches because he doesn’t have an off button. He will talk about work at any given moment he is awake. Sometimes I wonder when the business is finally gone, will we have anything to talk about.

He has a nervous cough that surfaces when he is worried about a job. I always know when he is nearby because of that darn cough. I can hide from him in the grocery store, but he can’t hide from me! He doesn’t go to the doctor unless it is an emergency. That would mean taking time off from the JOB. Eating right is not on his radar either

One night a week he does take a break. It’s his bowling night. I am excited for him because he gets to do something fun. “Good luck and good bowling” I cheer as he drags his tired body out the door.

His bowling friends are all retired. They bowl during the week. Some play tennis too. And go on cruises often. I mean very often. They send me notes on FB and emails asking me to talk to him about taking it easy at work. At least on bowling day. Thanks guys!

How do I get Mr. Workaholic to work a little less? The funny thing is he tried once. He retired his parents and tried to walk away from the business. But eight months later, he opened up again and he was off and running.

The only way he gets a break is if I book us to go somewhere. He protests. He even backs out on occasion. He calls the business everyday, several times a day to talk to the staff. He can’t unhook for long.

The worst part is when he gets back. Actually on the way back. He kicks right back into work mode and is incredibly stressed about catching up. He doesn’t sleep well that first night home and is up reviewing the job, and heading in (of course early) to get started.

My biggest fear is that when he finally does retire, he will be too physically worn down to enjoy the rest of his life. I hear stories all the time about men like him who reach that pinnacle and don’t have a lot of time left. I don’t want to put that out to the Universe – so I try not to let his stress become my stress.

The good news is he doesn’t drink or smoke. His work is physical, so he gets exercise in his own way, but many men who are workaholics with office jobs don’t.

His employees leave their jobs behind when they clock out, but for this entrepreneur who is driven to provide for his family, (put food on the table, mortgage payment, car payment, children’s college tuition, etc). it is slowly but surely wearing him down.

I’m booking a 5-day cruise for us. I know he will be stressed on the way back. But at least he won’t be able to call the business for a few days!

Previously published on Talking About Men’s Health

Photo: Flickr