Fatal Child Support Consequences – How to Maintain Your Sanity in a Bad Situation

Yolanda is sick of her situation. She’s going to college, working a full-time job, and taking care of her 9-month old. She’s frustrated, irritated, and upset. Why can’t she get a break? Yolanda grows angrier by the minute. Her ex-husband gives her nothing for their son but feels entitled to everything. These realities continue to plague Yolanda. She wonders if her life will ever change.

Introduction

Why is there so much drama associated with child support? What sane person wouldn’t advocate the protection of a child? However, the mention of child support generates rage and bitter feelings among people. Yet, the issues of child support are very common to most women as married couples separate and fight over this concern. As a deacon of my church, I am very familiar with this matter. In fact, I also have a personal connection with my immediate and extended family. From my perspective, if people bring children into the world, they should take care of them. Supporting a child is serious business anyway. When a person becomes a parent, his or her needs are secondary, not primary. Therefore, adults should conduct themselves with maturity. This can be related biblically, “When I was a child, I thought as a child but when I became a man, I put childish things away.” This article is about how to take personal control over the situation in order to move forward.

The Real Problem

Child support has become a growing concern in America. According to a 2002 US Census, there were 13.4 million custodian parents taking care of 21.4 million children under the age of 21 years old. Approximately, 5 out of 6 custodian parents were mothers (84.4%) and 1
in 6 were fathers (15.6%). This reality leaves most women leading households alone. Additionally, 50% of individuals who pay child support are under 40 years old. Also, men pay a medium of $3,600 annually to support their children. Furthermore, the following methods are the most common ways individuals obtain child support: (a) wage withholding (33.8%), direct payment to parent (31.7%), direct payment to child support agency (14.38%), direct payment to court (17.7%), and other means (2.4%).

For many caregivers receiving child support is not an easy process. Payments are normally given for food, educational expenses, and daycare; the payments are usually made until the child turns 18 years old. Approximately only 17% of child support agreements make no provision for health care of children. Many parents feel that addressing child support issues can be overwhelming. For example, DaVett Jones has two daughters and is an assistant to a financial analyst. She sympathizes with other single parents because of her own experiences with this subject. DaVett never demanded child support from her children’s father or sought legal actions: “…I take what I get, which isn’t much. By that I mean I’ve never received more than $200 per month for two kids.”

Kennard Patton, a Texas manager, always seeks to get along with others. He has a reputation of being easy going. He is married and has two sons. He could have faced the issue of child support with one of the son’s mothers. However, he managed to work through the matter peacefully with her. Other men do not have this luck of a peaceful compromise. In fact, some men get very upset with having to pay child support. Some don’t mind handling their responsibilities but resent the fact they are forced to comply. Other men have no desire to support their off springs. Therefore, this issue can get nasty. Patton explains it does not need to get nasty: “Well to start the best way to avoid being put on child support is for the man to step up and be a father to his child. Meaning taking care of and supporting his child physically and financially.”

Personal Solutions

This reality of no child support can make an individual bitter. Yet, Jones has found the power to cope with her situation: “I’ve been extremely blessed to be able to provide for them with minimal help. Sometimes I kick and moan…We’ve never been homeless, hungry, or had to walk. I give God the glory for my supporting my children.” Likewise, individuals can take steps to move in a more positive direction. The following are some solutions:

Identify the real problems, not symptoms.
Confront the circumstance head on.
Set aside time for meditation, bible study, and devotion to strengthening your spirituality.
Research the issues of child support and parental rights.
Seek to peacefully resolve any personal differences related to child support.
Determine the alternatives if child support cannot be resolved.
Surround yourself with positive people and individuals who share your vision.
Keep a positive attitude even in the midst of confusion.
The Path Forward
Will the issues of child support continue to haunt society? Parents who have a child together must be able to communicate; the child support concern may not disappear anytime soon. Unfortunately, some circumstances can escalate and eventually explored if people are not careful. Therefore, good communications is critical. In this article, Jones and Patton are good examples of working through this matter thoughtfully. Therefore, child support concerns must be handled by mature people. Good communications, personal integrity, and selflessness can provide a tremendous roadmap for better relationships. Given these perquisites, individuals need to ask themselves a question, “Who’s going to be the bigger person?” Parents do not need to feel like victims. They can move forward regardless of the lack of financial support from the child’s other parent. It’s really about making decisions that will propel a parent and his or her child toward a better life.

Granny Cams – Is it Legal to Monitor Your Loved One in a Nursing Home?

We’ve all seen the television news magazines on babysitter surveillance (also known as “nanny cams”). But more and more, unfortunately, the news pieces are likely to feature “Granny Cams” instead.

As the U.S. population ages, more people are headed to nursing homes or have regular home health care. And, just as children are in a vulnerable position in relation to their caregivers, nursing home patients are likewise vulnerable and unable to fully communicate. A camera may be just what you need to put your mind at ease.

Supporters of the nursing home cameras believe that they could weed out elder abuse by nursing home employees as well as document poor care and neglect. Not surprisingly, nursing home owners believe that this surveillance is an invasion of privacy of residents and staff.

Is the use of a “granny cam” the same, under the law, as a “nanny cam”? Can it lead to civil lawsuits or a criminal investigation or charge? Unfortunately, the law in this area is not uniform across all 50 states and many of the legal issues have not been dealt with yet by the courts. You will probably need to have a specific conversation with a licensed attorney in your area to determine how to approach nursing home surveillance.

Just as with nanny cams, visible video cameras (not hidden in any way) are generally not illegal if they are in a non-private place. If the camera records sound as well as video, you must comply with federal and state wiretapping and eavesdropping laws. You will need consent of one or all parties to any recorded conversation, depending on your jurisdiction.

Hidden cameras are a little stickier. There is a federal law which makes it a crime to secretly capture photo or video images of people in places and situations in which they have an expectation of privacy, such as bathrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms, hotel rooms and tanning salons. A nursing home bedroom would probably make the list as well. Most states now have laws similar to the federal laws.

In the case of a “granny cam” though, some additional concerns are raised. The two issues often raised in this situation are (1) the ability of the nursing home patient to consent to the surveillance and (2) the privacy of any roommate.

If the patient has not been deemed incompetent by a court, he or she may be able to legally consent to any recording. If the patient is less than competent for any reason, a legally-appointed guardian or attorney-in-fact (someone given authority by power of attorney) may be able to give consent. In some states, consent by someone other than a competent resident may not be adequate to support the recording.

The second issue is a privacy concern. Many nursing homes have double rooms. In that case, it is the best practice to obtain written consent from any roommate or legal representative of the roommate. The surveillance could very well record the dressing and undressing of both patients as well as bathing and medical treatments.

The state attorney general in New York has used hidden cameras (with the consent of the patient’s family) to record and prosecutor elder abuse. A few other states (New Mexico and Texas) have specific laws which provide the requirements for use of a “granny cam”. The factors include notification of the nursing home of the use of the camera and consent of any roommate or representative of the roommate.

Although some states, like Virginia, have adopted nursing home licensing regulations which cover video surveillance, most states have not passed specific legislation regarding nursing home surveillance. The resident (or, more likely, his or her family) must perform the installation and pay for any maintenance costs.

Ultimately, your goal with a granny cam surveillance system is to prevent any abuse or neglect of your loved one – and not to catch an employee perpetrating a crime upon the patient. So, you may be best off considering a heart-to-heart conversation with the facility administration about your desire to perform surveillance. And don’t forget to talk to your loved one’s roommate or his family about obtaining consent from them as well.

Book Review For “All My Hopes and Dreams”

Book Review for “All My Hopes and Dreams”
Written by: Celia Yeary
ISBN: 1-60154-369-7
Wild Rose Press
266 pages
$14.95
4 Stars

Yeary weaves a romance full of hopes and dreams that her heroine, Cynthia Harrington yearns to fulfill. “All My Hopes and Dreams” is a solid western romance set in Texas in the 1880’s. Though Yeary’s skillful writing, the reader is transported to the old west to witness the romance between Ricardo and Cynthia – one full of challenges. It’s almost one challenge too many for Cynthia.

The story starts with Cynthia determined to leave Nacogdoches and her father’s arranged marriage. On her way out of town, her horse mis-steps and her carriage turns over. Enter Ricardo Romero. He comes to Cynthia’s aid and keeps her safe. Cynthia is initially grateful for his help, but then she learns her father hired him to follow her. Ricardo brings Cynthia home and she resigns herself to her arranged marriage.

Cynthia’s fiancé has doubts about the marriage and voices them to her father. Ricardo takes advantage of that and asks Cynthia to marry him at the spur of the moment. Cynthia says yes. She’s attracted to Ricardo and while she doesn’t know him, she’s looking forward to getting to know him. Ricardo is more guarded in his thoughts, but he can’t deny he’s intrigued with her.

Ricardo takes Cynthia to his ranch house across the state. His parents are still married and run the ranch. While Ricardo’s father seems to accept Cynthia, her mother-in-law, Felicitas, does not and makes life unpleasant for Cynthia. Cynthia takes matters into her own hands and moves out of the ranch house. She makes friends with the ranch wives. Ricardo is puzzled by her behavior. He doesn’t realize how unfriendly his mother is towards Cynthia.

Ricardo takes Cynthia away on a romantic getaway and they make love. Felicitas tries to stop the couple, but has an accident. Ricardo and Cynthia find her hours afterwards and get her help. Felicitas can’t walk and needs to be cared for. Cynthia is expected to be the primary caregiver. She steps up to the plate, but does not endear herself to Felicitas. Felicitas enlists Starr Hildago’s help, (a former flame of Ricardo’s) to get rid of Cynthia.

Cynthia holds up in the face of Starr’s flirting with her husband, and Felicitas’s insults. She starts a school for the kids at the ranch, but instigates the anger of one of the hands by asking that his children go to school.

The rangers come looking for a criminal. Cynthia’s bow is all ready tight, but it snaps when she finds her husband and Starr in a compromising position. She goes to the house to pack and discovers the criminal holding Felicitas hostage. Cynthia keeps the criminal at bay until the rangers can put him in custody. Then she packs her bags and gets on the next train to Nacogdoches. Ricardo realizes he’s in love with his wife and follows her.

The plot moves well and never drags. Yeary’s writing style is easy to follow. I liked how she emerged the reader in the world of ranching and horse breeding. Cynthia is a likeable heroine, if anything I would have liked to have seen more introspection on Ricardo’s part. I never did understand why he chose Cynthia over Starr since Starr seemed better suited to him.

Yeary’s love scenes are tame, but her romantic scenes are well done. “All My Hopes and Dreams” is a nice escape for a rainy Saturday.

Home Sweet Home – Why More and More Women Are Opting For Home Birth

When you hear the phrase “home birth,” what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Old fashioned? Unsafe? Crazy? How about all natural, incredible, and safe? Each day, more and more American women are opting to give birth the old fashioned way – right from the comfort of their own homes. And the reasons for doing so are plentiful.

For starters, home birthing moms, midwives, and the like concur that pregnancy is not an illness; and labor is not a medical emergency; and therefore, neither should be treated as such, unless of course there are pre-existing medical problems for the mother and/or unborn fetus, in which case, the pregnancy would be treated as “high risk,” and home births would not be recommended.

Home is a comforting place to be, hence the reason why so many women and men feel comfortable having the birth of their child take place there as opposed to the cold, sterile hospital. In addition to home births, there are many people who, through online medical consultation or telehealth services, are being treated for an array of medical conditions from their homes as well. Online doctor consultation services are available from home, or anywhere remotely where Internet access is available, and offer online prescription refills, doctors’ excuses for work and school, and more.

Going Au Natural

Giving birth is one of the most natural occurrences in the world – so why are so many pregnant women treated as though pregnancy and labor are medical conditions? With all of the advancements that have come from scientific discoveries and experiments conducted in the past few decades, medical science has still not been able to improve the human body and the way it is designed to work. However, when our bodies are not functioning as nature intended them to, we are more fortunate than generations past in that modern medical science can work wonders.

In the majority of cases, pregnancy and childbirth are normal functions of a healthy body – not a potential life-and-death crisis that requires the assistance of a surgeon. It is for this particular reason that home births, and online doctor consultations, are on the rise.

Only a small percentage of pregnancies bear risks, and ultimately will require the skills of an obstetrician/gynecologist and usage of high-technology equipment (ultrasound, fetal monitors, etc.) in order for the mother and/or the baby to survive childbirth without long-term ill effects.

The U.S. Has One of the Highest Neonatal Mortality Rates in the World

In 1989, the recorded neonatal mortality rate for the United States was slightly more than 10 per 1,000 live births. Ironic, considering that the U.S. has the most highly sophisticated and expensive maternity care systems in the world, yet, in that same year, 20 other countries (with significantly less technology) had more babies survive their first months of life than babies in the U.S.

Why is this? It is likely due to the fact that these 20 countries, which fared far better than the U.S. in terms of neonatal mortality rates, use midwives as the primary caregivers for healthy women during their pregnancies and births.

Considering the statistics before them, the World Health Organization consistently urges the United States to return to a midwife-based system of maternity care in order to reduce high neonatal mortality rates. Physicians, in spite of advanced training and surgical specialties, have never been proven to provide better pregnancy and childbirth care than midwives. Moreover, no research has concluded that hospitals are the safest places in which to give birth for normal, low-risk pregnancies. In fact, respiratory distress among newborns was 17 times higher in the hospital than in the home. Not only that, but the United States has the highest obstetrical intervention rates, as well as an alarming problem with malpractice suits.

Testifying before the U.S. Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality was Marsden Wagner MD, European Director of the World Health Organization, who suggested the need in the United States for a “strong, independent midwifery profession as a counterbalance to the obstetrical profession in preventing excessive interventions in the normal birth process.”

Homebirths are Safe

Myth – Hospital births are safer.
There have been numerous studies done that have compared hospital and out-of-hospital births, all of which have indicated fewer deaths, injuries, and infections for homebirths supervised by a trained attendant (such as a midwife) than for hospital births. There have been no studies that conclude hospitals have better outcomes than homebirths.

Standing out among the studies is a six-year one conducted by the Texas Department of Health for the years 1983-1989, which revealed that the infant mortality rate for certified nurse midwives was 1 per 1,000; and non-nurse midwives attending homebirths was 1.9 per 1,000; compared with the doctors’ rate of 5.7 per 1,000.

Midwives are Trained Professionals

Myth – A pregnant woman gets more professional attention in a hospital than she does at home.

In addition to being trained pregnancy and childbirth professionals, midwives offer pregnant women more time, care, and attention than the standard medical office or hospital visits. In the hospital, obstetricians rely on machinery and others for information, and appear in the room with the pregnant women for typically only the last part of her visit. Most (and not all – as there are plenty of physicians, such as those offering online medical consultations, who encourage natural birth practices) physicians do not build a relationship founded on support with their patient; nor do they offer much encouragement on giving birth naturally.

On a daily basis, an increasing number of childbearing women are finding solace with the care of midwives, as opposed to the cold, clinical atmosphere of hospital birthing wards. In response, many hospitals are now leaning towards making their sterile environments feel more like “home” for the patient. Most of the hospitals now allow women’s partners into labor and delivery rooms, as well as accept the presence of a professional labor coach, or doula.

But, even with this, many women are opting to engage in the natural act of giving birth right in their own home – as they feel childbirth does not belong in a clinical environment when all is well with the pregnancy. Statistics show that home births that are planned with a trained attendant have positive outcomes. Home births with untrained attendants or no attendants at all have less positive outcomes; therefore, those who are planning home births are recommended to have attendants, such as certified nurse midwife, there to assist/deliver the baby.

In addition to childbearing mothers, people of all backgrounds are electing to be treated from home by utilizing online doctor consultation and prescription services – available immediately from their home or remote computer, eliminating the need for in-person doctor visits.

What is Midwifery?

Midwifery consists of a system of wellness and natural care given by professional midwives to women and infants during the childbearing year. In several countries around the world, midwives are the primary care givers in maternity systems with significantly better neonatal mortality rates than that of the U.S.

Midwives are trained to be on alert for deviations from health throughout a woman’s pregnancy and labor, and will refer their clients to a physician if necessary. While prenatal visits to an obstetrician’s office typically involve long waiting periods before even seeing the doctor or nurse for a brief checkup, visits with midwives are generally relaxed, friendly, and last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. During this time, midwives examine the women by taking the both the mother and baby’s heart rates, collect specimens for the laboratory, check high blood pressure rate and weight, as well as teach the benefits of proper nutrition, exercise, hazards to avoid, and how to prepare for a natural birth. Additionally, the midwife watches for any signs of fetal distress, and are equipped with the proper medical equipment for home births such as oxygen equipment.

Consider the Benefits of Home Birthing

There are several benefits to birthing at home, similar to the benefits of receiving online medical consultations right from home. Everyone is made to feel relaxed and comfortable, and women are in an optimal position to carry out the functions of the normal human body without the need for cold, long medical office visits and unnecessary medical intervention.

Parenting Tips – Beware of Farm Accidents Which Can Kill Young Children

Farm accidents involving young children are on the rise. There were several incidents in September, 2009 alone where young children were killed. Babies and young children continue to be killed by farm animals and farm equipment after being placed in harms way, by their parents or caregivers! It’s a tragic reminder that parents should not let common sense and child safety go by the wayside when spending time at a farm.

Here are some examples from recent headlines:

September 14, 2009 A Tyler, Texas boy, Cameron Pruett was run over and killed when riding as a passenger on a tractor. The adult relative reported that while riding and after a bump in the road, they lost their grip on the child and he fell off the tractor and was run over and killed. What was a young boy doing as a passenger on a tractor and was the only means of child safety that was employed an adult hand gripping him?

September 10, 2009 In Eagle Bend, Minnesota, a baby boy, Chrissie Miller was placed in his car seat in close proximity to the family horse and was stepped on and killed while family members did chores nearby. How does this happen? Did the horse break away from his tether or was the child left in harms way?

September 7, 2009 in Farmington, Utah, a 5-year-old boy was run over and killed after being pinned underneath the trailer during a hayride outing with his family. What a horrible accident this must have been.

These incidents might seem like “freak accidents” but they underscore clearly the fact that young children are still vulnerable to farm accidents. Parents and those that supervise children in farm environments should learn from these accidents and take extra precautions to keep their children safe. There is no substitute for adult supervision but in hindsight, I’m sure those involved now realize these children were put in harms way with the worse possible outcome.

Parents should take the time to proactively think about child safety and the dangers that lurk in the vicinity of their unsuspecting baby or young child when at the farm.

In a moment, your child can be taken from you due to a preventable accident. I happens everyday. Auto accidents claim the most lives, followed by drowning. There are other lesser know threats you need to know to keep you baby or young child safe. Alive Past 5 tracks the tragic deaths of children under 5 and the causes to keep you informed and alerted to these threats so you can take preventative action before tragedy strikes your family!

Minding Our Elders and Living Through It: A Caregiver’s Journey

You’ve got kids and they’re growing up. You’ve got a job and you’re moving up. You and your spouse have smoothed out the wrinkles of early marriage. Sailing along pretty well, right?

Bang! Dad has a stroke. Mom, while trying to help Dad, falls and breaks her hip. And you have to deal. What happened to your life?

Welcome to our world. The world of the caregiver.

Your son, Jon, is in football and is getting his first letter at tomorrow’s breakfast. You’re daughter, Meg, has a concert tomorrow night. Woops! Mom fell again and this time sliced her head open. Dad’s blood pressure is soaring from the scare.

So, Jon gets his football letter while you’re filling out papers in the ER. Meg plays her first solo while you’re consoling Dad about Mom. And you fight guilt.

Then, there’s work. Yesterday, you juggled everything for all the kid’s stuff you missed. You were up all night with Mom and Dad. Now you face a full day’s work. You doze off in your cubical only to be awakened by your supervisor’s obviously fake cough. There goes the promotion!

What do you do? Well, you keep on caregiving. But you also step back and say, “I need to take care of myself, too.”

You need to detach from Mom and Dad’s problems and get some outside help, whether everything is done as well as you do it or not. Trust others to take care of your elders, occasionally. Check references. Make sure the businesses and/or facilities you use are as good as you can get. Then give yourself some space.

You need to make time for your children – guilt free – the way your parents would want you to, if they could still understand the concept. You need to find some down time to exercise, meditate or just vegetate. You need to nurture your marriage. And your spirit. If all of this takes away from the time you spend with Mom and Dad, so be it. Everyone has to make compromises. Even our elders.

My dad had brain surgery because of a WWII injury. The end result was instant dementia. I became his office manager, his mother, his magician, making everything he thought was real – well – real.

This was exhausting. I made academic degrees, wrote letters from dignitaries and presented awards. I was obsessed with making his life as livable as it could be. Commendable. But I wasn’t accepting that he would have bad days no matter what I did. That I couldn’t bring back the dad I had. That I couldn’t fix his life.

After years of this, while caring for several other elders and, eventually, working full time, I finally broke. Dad was complaining because I didn’t stay long enough when I visited. Finally, I said through tears, “Dad, I am doing everything I can!”

And somewhere, in the far reaches of his damaged brain, there was recognition. The self-centeredness moved aside just a bit and let the real person, still buried there – my real dad – peek through. He settled down and said “Yes, I know. I’m sorry.” From then on it got a little easier.

My mother had been a wonderful, funny woman, but, in her last years, was in severe pain and suffered from dementia. One day, after she was very nasty to me over something she didn’t understand, I’d had it. This had happened before, and the nurses told me to just not visit the following day. That she would learn. But I didn’t believe them.

That time was too much. I skipped a day. And, voila! When I returned the day after, Mom was charming. I found I could set limits. I had begun to learn self-care.

Gradually, I learned to stand up for myself a little more. I also learned to talk to friends and tell my story at a support group. And I listened to others tell their stories. I learned to detach a bit and even take a day off, when I had to. It was a matter of survival.

It’s far easier to say than to do. But caregivers must practice self-care. Because what happens to Jon and Meg, Mom and Dad, if your health collapses? Health problems, including depression, are rampant among caregivers, and thirty percent of our caregivers die before the people they are caring for. Thirty percent! Don’t be a statistic. Practice self-care. Everyone will be better off, including your elders.

Surviving Caregiver Burnout: Sound Steps to Guide You!

Thanks to advancements in medical science, Americans are now living longer than a generation ago. Presently, 36.5 million people or 12 percent of the U.S. population are 65 years of age or older. Within this group, nearly five million are age 85 or older. It is estimated that by the year 2050, 87 million Americans (21 percent) will reach age 65 and beyond.

While extending one’s lifespan may be a modern miracle, for millions of Americans, this astounding growth has taken the act of care giving for a loved one from a historically temporary situation, to new life stage called care giving that can and does now last decades.

Sixty five percent of persons with long-term care needs rely exclusively on family and friends to provide assistance, and it is estimated that 59 to 75 percent of those providing the care are married women working outside of the home. While men do provide assistance, female caregivers spend as much as 50 percent more time providing care than males.

With these astounding statistics, it is easy to surmise that care giving is a growing demand and one that requires immediate attention and support.

Caregiving is an important and stressful job. Most folks enter into it from an emotionally fragile place where their worst fears can be, and often are, realized. If you are caregiver and want to survive this life stage, you must surrender your uncertainty about what to do and commit yourself to acting on a well thought out plan. Like any successful enterprise, having an understanding about what you are about to enter into will help you accept your new role and give you a roadmap for coping.

Steps for Coping
Unless you become an “accidental cargiver” meaning that something happened suddenly, it’s usually a slow process that creeps up on you. The signs are different for each individual, but they are definitely present. I encourage you to be pragmatic. Here are some steps to approach the process.

1) Become an Observer — You must take yourself to the place of a distant observer, where you can view the situation from an unemotional, well thought-out, objective place. By standing back and removing yourself temporarily from the center of the “storm”, you will gain perspective and this will go miles in helping you create a plan.

2) Define Your Roles and Responsibilities -As a caregiver; particularly if you are female, it is natural for you to be tempted to try to do everything for your loved one. Depending on the condition of your loved one’s health, you may find yourself having to do many things they previously did for themselves, such as personal grooming, driving to appointments or day-to-day household duties. Responsibilities such as these have the potential to cause undue stress. Even if the person is greatly dependent upon you for their care, you will find that you are better able to maintain your own mental and physical health, and the dignity of the person for whom you are caring, if your roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.

3) Practice Open Communication — This is not the time to be shy about your needs. It is the key to your survival, and you must clarify your role through open communication. Unless your loved one is mentally incapacitated, you must talk about his/her wants and needs, and be sure to make yours clear as well. Discuss today’s necessities, but plan for the future. In time, you may find yourself with increased responsibilities such as, medical, home maintenance, legal and financial matters. Make certain that you not only understand what your fiduciary boundaries are, but to whom you can refer to for other important decisions when the time comes.

I cannot stress enough that in order to survive the caregiving process and total burnout; you must set up systems to help you. You do not have to do this alone. Help is available; the time you take to understand where it is and how to access it, will be crucial to your survival.

Surviving Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout is a real condition and should not be taken lightly. It is described as “a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.” Burnout can occur for any number of reasons, but usually does because the caregiver has tried to do more than she is able, either physically or financially, (or both). Burnout symptoms include:

• Social withdrawal from friends, family and loved ones.
• Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
• A constant feeling of hopelessness or irritability and helplessness.
• Changes in weight, sleeplessness coupled with complete emotional and physical exhaustion.
• Frequent illness.

How to Avoid Burnout?
The best way you can avoid caregiver burnout is to create and use a well-planned support system:

• Set realistic goals and turn to others for relief with certain tasks.
• Stay realistic about the illness you are confronting. Your role is not to heal, but to help make life manageable for your loved one.
• Set aside time for yourself. This is not a luxury, but a necessity.
• Talk to a professional if you feel your life is spinning out of control. You cannot afford not to.
• Explore/research respite care services and options.
• Educate yourself, take the time to research, and learn. There is a plethora of information available.
• Stick to the basics: eat right, exercise and get plenty of rest. Know when it’s okay to turn off the phone and be quiet.
• Pamper yourself. Take a bath; a long shower; spend time in nature; tap into your own spirituality and ask for help.
• Accept your feelings of frustration and anger as normal.
• Join a care giving support group. Sharing your feelings with others in your same situation can be extremely helpful. Support groups help you manage stress, locate resources and provide a venue to reduce feelings of frustration and isolation.
• Make time for activities you enjoy.
• Caregiving is rewarding, but there will be times when you will also feel anger, sadness, frustration and grief. Try not to judge your feelings. They are neither good nor bad, but rather a normal part of being human.

Caregiving is hard work, filled with numerous demands. Sadly, many caregivers lose perspective about the importance of their role and feel guilty if they spend time on themselves. You cannot care for another person if you do not care for yourself. You must be kind to yourself and embrace the idea that your role as a caregiver is vital to our society. You are engaged in the ultimate service – giving of yourself to another person. Honor your role and honor yourself.

Seven Simple Steps to Stress Free Holidays

Our thoughts are exceedingly powerful. Think about the human collective thoughts have that have created a holiday season that celebrates, in part, a humble man born in a barn who generously taught and gave to others for free. But, instead of following his call to simplicity, love, and inner harmony, his birthday and surrounding holidays have become a time of high expectations of ourselves and others. Often, even thoughts of “the holidays” generate a sense of gloom, anxiety, and personal stress.

Clearly, we deserve to rethink ways of having meaningful end-of- year-holidays that neither strain our budgets nor our coping skills. For example, the intention to create something meaningful with your friends or families during the holidays can begin anytime. If you care for someone, you might see an item that is “just right” during the calendar year. Sharing something, even small, from an adventure you had enriches the personal value of the gift. It becomes a sign on of your thoughtfulness instead of a measure of your pocketbook.

Reaching beyond the idea of gift-giving, think of a valued service you could perform for someone you love. This would mean giving of yourself, your time, and energy at an entirely different level from fighting crowds in a store. Pet-cargiving, house-watching, picking up food items or prescriptions, researching information on the Internet, sitting with someone who needs a companion, helping with planning for an outing-all are needed in some way by most people you know. A clever homemade “gift certificate” can document your specific objective to help out.

The new science of energy psychology also provides self-care tools that can help us to reshape our beliefs and empower reaching out with simple gestures to others. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

· Take time to think about each person you wish to reach. Think of the senses the person most enjoys-visual beauty, music, something to touch, a smell or taste. Be creative in connecting with their interests or wishes which may be very similar to your own.

· Be open to accepting help for yourself. Think about what gives you pleasure or enhances your appreciation of life. Let your wishes and interests be known so your loved ones have a direction for giving back. For example, if you like to cook but hate to shop, ask for someone to shop for the needed ingredients o to help with clean-up.

· Treat any limiting belief about how things ought to be with a gentle rub to the heart area and the affirmation, “Even though this year is different from the past, I deeply and profoundly accept myself and my willingness to try out new ways to celebrate my friendships and life.” Look for opportunities to celebrate by collaborating with others.

· Set your intention for the kind of holiday you really want by tapping gently on the center of the chest, the thymus area that is the master gland of the immune system. Share your intention with your loved ones so they can support your goal.

· Notice your internal stress levels which may register with bodily symptoms such as shortness of breath, sweating, feeling cold, or intestinal cramping. Also note any anxious feelings, worry about expenses or outcomes of get-togethers.

· Treat your anxiety directly by tapping gently 10-15 times on the meridian acupoints that are most related to anxiety: where the eyebrow meets the nose, at the outer eye, under the lip, at the collar bone and at the side of the hand. Use a reminder phrase such as “releasing this worry” with each of the acupoints you treat.

· Repeat a positive phrase that reminds you often of your intention to lower expectations of yourself and others while at the same time reaching out in fun-loving, genuine ways. “I choose to expect less, love more” provides one such direct communication. You can install the positive phrase by tapping the same acupoints as those listed.

Often, spontaneous times of laughing, eating, and talking will be recalled more than a fancy gift or endeavor. I asked my adult children recently what they most remembered about past holidays. Like most moms, I worked hard to buy the gifts they wanted, cook the right foods, decorate the house, and invite their friends. I was surprised at the answers: ” I liked the candles and the smell of balsam”… “doing the dishes and singing rounds”… “hearing the bells and the songs”… “having warm socks and clothes”… “the smell of cookies in the oven”… “making a dish together in the kitchen”… “telling each other stories.”

There was no mention of designer clothes, shopping at the malls, trips to special places, or specific gifts although I did my best to supply these. It was the climate of caring and warmth that counted and was most remembered.

May your holidays be rich with a celebration of your sharing, your reflections, your unique presence, and, with it, your laughter!

Dr. Dorothea Hover-Kramer, leading “re-firement expert” is the author of Second Chance at Your Dream, a book filled with over fifty energy psychology self-care exercises.

The Missing Oldsmobile

Pastor Evans sermon this morning was taken from verses in Galatians Romans, and I Corinthians. He carefully explained how love is described for us and not defined. He clarified how the chosen text clearly shows us how love can be manifest in our lives.

Love is longsuffering.

Love never loses patience.

Love never loses its temper.

Love looks for ways to be kind when “abused”.

I determined “this is good stuff, I can surely put this into practice”.
Ninety minutes later I had my chance. My wife came to the church bookstore from her Adult Bible Fellowship Class to let me know she was leaving for home. We had come in two cars today, a common practice for us. I told her I would leave in about twenty minutes and meet her at home.

Within minutes she returned. “Dick, I can’t find my car,” she exclaimed. Ready to react, I remembered the sermon of the morning, sighed tried to put on patience, and headed for the street in front of the church for a visual check. “I don’t remember where I parked,” she pondered, “I may parked in the upper parking lot at North Campus”

We decided I would drive her around the corner to the upper lot to spot her car, after I closed the bookstore. Meantime the church door had locked behind us. More inner groans, my patience was being tested again, as we headed around the church to the main lobby entrance.

Later, as we were ready to leave, Thelma decided to get her keys out to have them ready when we found the car. They were not in her purse. After two or three mutual searches, she checked the ladies room, the information desk, the store counter, tables etc. Finally we decided she might have left them in the car.

We drove around the corner. The car was not in her usual spot on James Avenue. We did not see it in the upper lot on North Campus or in the main lot.

We circled the route a second time and concluded that the car had been stolen. By now Thelma was upset and praying for divine intervention. We decided to go home to report the theft. I contemplated how I could explain to the sheriff’s office the loss or theft of our car.

Frustrated and desperate my mind I fought the inclination to harangue Thelma. “It is just a car, I thought. “Thelma is here with me. Safe.” Maybe this lesson in patience would avoid a more serious crisis in the future, a lesson with more serious consequences. Someday I will have to intervene and take away another symbol of independence from Thelma, who is trying so desperately to maintain in her battle for dignity?

Within a few houses of our driveway we both breathed a sigh of relief as we saw the car safely parked in its regular slot. Sheepishly, Thelma remarked, “Oh, now I remember, I couldn’t find my keys and Stephen took me to church this morning.”

Weeks later I found the keys. On Saturday, the day prior to the missing automobile we attended a wedding. Thelma transferred a few things from her purse to a much smaller bag. Nestled in the bottom of the bag were the missing keys.

Minding Our Elders: Remembering Who They Were

For many suffering from painful or debilitating disease, death is the only real relief. For many caregivers, it is the same. Often, worn down by years of attending to the needs of a loved one; years of watching the mental decline from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias; years of watching the frustration and suffering of a once articulate parent struck mute by a stroke, the caregiver also feels relief when the suffering person dies. That doesn’t mean there isn’t grief. But it’s often mixed with relief.

But then what? That is what my good friend asked me after her mother died.
Her mother had suffered from Alzheimer’s for 10 years. After she died, we discussed what we do after we grieve. How do we remember the person who was? How do we travel back in time, before the dementia? Before the stroke? How do we rescue those precious moments in time, buried under layers of sickness? The sometimes abusive behavior toward the caregiver, by a once loving person? The sheer exhaustion from years of caregiving?

My dad had surgery to relieve pressure built up behind scar tissue in his brain. Dad, as we knew him, went into surgery. Another man came out. He spent 10 years in psychic hell, a semi-stranger in my dad’s body. Mom’s decline was a slow mental slide. She went into a nursing facility because of falls and severe arthritis, but dementia eventually nestled in her brain.

Like my friend who watched her mother decline into a childlike state, I was left wondering, who do I remember? How can I find those loving childhood memories and bring them out from under all of those years of pain?

It takes willingness. It takes focus. And it takes time. But I chose to begin the effort and I choose to continue making the effort. They deserve no less. My parents didn’t ask to live their last years as they did. Nor did they choose how long the decline and dying process would take. I owe them the chance to be remembered as the smart, loving, funny people they were, before all of that.

God knows I couldn’t forget those years of decline. And I don’t want to. It’s part of their lives and part of mine. But that is not what I want to remember first, when I think of them. I want to remember who they once were.

I am very slowly getting so that, when I see that I have a waiting phone message, I don’t panic, expecting yet another trip to the emergency room. I am slowly putting those last years into perspective. I’m remembering the parents who raised me. The grandparents who played silly games with my boys. I’m remembering, with some effort, the whole of each person, not just fragmented pieces that remained at the end.

My friend and I agreed on this. We agreed that it was very hard, but well worth the effort, for our loved ones, and for ourselves. It does get easier, as time passes. I choose to remember the whole person, to honor the complete life rather than dwell on a slow, often demeaning death. I choose to remember them as they were.