7 Lessons Learned In The World Of Eldercare

I was ill prepared for my mother?s decline. She lived alone until she was 96 and refused to let me get her home health care help. My husband and I did everything we could so she could live comfortably at home.

And then she fell.

It wasn?t the first time, or the last time, but it was the fall that changed everything. Statistics show one fourth of Americans over 65 fall each year and the results can be devastating and life changing. Women, often with kids and lives of their own, become the primary caregivers and decision-makers when a parent has an accident.

My mom?so strong-minded, stubborn and commanding?could no longer walk on her own or care for herself. After 6 weeks in rehab I brought her back to her home and had to face a new reality: She could no longer live alone. Ambulettes to doctor appointments, a stair lift to get her up to her bedroom, and 24 hour live-in care were her new life.

I promised her long ago that I would never put her in a nursing home, and I nearly quite ran myself into the ground that first year trying to keep my word. But over time, once I got the right caregiving team in place, I was able to deal with the day-to-day running of her life as the aids in her home cared for her needs and kept her safe.

We made it through the first two-plus years and she turned 99 years old in March. I survived the role reversal and trauma of the crisis her fall created in our family system. Here are some of the things I learned and discovered trying to navigate through eldercare.

1. It?s like going to a new country. You will find yourself in terrain never traversed before. It is especially hard when you are new at caregiving???as many of us are???and perhaps more accustom to your parent taking care of your needs. It may be extremely uncomfortable, painful, and traumatic???for all involved. And it is not a country you really every wanted to be in but there you are. You must adjust to the language and customs of that world, and a new way of being in relationship to your parent.

2. The workload is enormous. Caring for an elderly parent becomes a second job???or a third, or fourth job if you have a job, a family, kids, and other responsibilities as most of us do. Or it is a first job when you jump in to deal with a crisis and then have a hard time getting out and back to your life as you knew it. People say the parent becomes the child. But this nothing like caring for a child. This is caring for a full-sized person who has a life, a personality (something a really strong one!) and the needs of an adult. This person is not as easy to lift as a child. Caring for an aging parent involves caring for an entire life?dealing with their bills, banking, medical care, insurance, home care, end-of-life care, managing the staff in their home or dealing with a facility.

3. One person usually does the lion share. A good friend of mine told me that when her mom became less capable, she and her two siblings all moved permanently to Florida to care for her with their respective mates. ?It takes three of us,? she said. Sadly, most families cannot or do not pool together to share the workload. The person closest, and most able or willing, often ends up with it by default. It can tear families apart so try to find a way people can contribute in a way they are able, and do what you can to avoid resentments because when your parent is gone, your siblings are all you got. That is not to say the main caregiver will not get resentful. We have to honor that feeling, too, rather than stuff it down.

4. Fear that a parent will die on your watch is overwhelming. Most of us are terrified a parent will die, under normal life circumstance. When that person is under your care and you are responsible for health decisions, it can be very scary. Especially if you are caring for that person in their home or your home. Calls have to be made to experts, research on state laws have to be conducting, and you absolutely have to know your mom or dad?s final wishes. The natural thing to do is call an ambulance if someone seems sick, dizzy, weak, or appears to be having a stroke or heart attack. Or has had an episode that has rendered them unconscious. But what if your parent has a health directive of DNR – do not resuscitate???under any circumstance. How can you not call an ambulance? Most of us will instinctually react by doing all we can to keep our parents alive, but that may not always be their finish wish.

5. Anticipatory grief can grip you. When a parent becomes injured or too sick to care for themselves, it?s a shock. The worry that a parent will die can be overwhelming, especially if you are called to prepare for it medically and logistically. Anticipatory grief lives beneath the surface and is the grief over what is to come. It can make you deeply sad and cause depression. We may not even know what?s causing because we think we have nothing to grieve over if a parent is still with us. It is best to recognize it, address feelings and fears, and have a good cry (on a regular basis if need be). Seek professional help as needed.

6. You are nearing the end of a road long traveled. The most awful revelation is that your parent?s life is fading, coming to a close, and that is a hard thing to let in. You?ve know that person longer than anyone in your life and whether the relationship has been wonderful or seriously flawed, this has an impact on adult children.

7. When you find good home care attendants honor them. The person caring for your parents becomes one of the most important people in his or her life. And this person is integral to every day as well as every emergency. This person becomes like family. A good, professional home care attendant who has a good work ethic, and realizes their main and only job in your parents? home is to care for that person, is key to peace of mind for you and your family. Thank them regularly.

-Laurie Sue Brockway

Have you learned a special lesson while caring for an aging or ailing parent?

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Obama Photographer Expertly Trolls Donald Trump’s NATO ‘Shove’

Former White House photographer Pete Souza still doesn?t pass up photo ops ? to diss President Donald Trump.

On Thursday Souza, the shutterbug for former President Barack Obama, took aim at Trump?s perceived jostling of Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic at the NATO Summit earlier in the day. The video of Trump grabbing the arm of Markovic to bustle past him and reach the front of the group went viral, of course, with some media describing the move as a ?push? or a ?shove.?

Souza?s compare-and-contrast response came in the form of a 2012 photo that shows a relaxed Obama sharing a funny moment with NATO leaders at a summit. Check out that caption. Burn!

Laughter at the 2012 NATO Summit. No jostling involved.

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Oops! Ivanka And Jared Failed To Disclose Their Million-Dollar Art Collection

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have quite the formidable art collection, featuring works by big contemporary names like Christopher Wool, Dan Colen, Alex Israel and Alex Da Corte. Yet, according to artnet News, Kushner, who is currently serving as President Donald Trump?s senior advisor, did not report the multimillion-dollar cache in his required financial disclosures.

A lawyer advising Kushner attributed his pricey omission to the fact that the wife-and-husband duo collect art for pleasure, not business. ?Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump display their art for decorative purposes and have made only a single sale,?  the lawyer said in a statement issued by the White House. Still, other members of Trump?s cabinet including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, did disclose their sizable art collections.

This is not the first time Kushner has been outed for failing to be transparent about his financial assets. But now that the blunder has been noticed ? and widely publicized ? he plans to report the collection to ?avoid any doubt.? The White House gave no indication as to when this new disclosure would be released. 

The official rules regarding financial disclosure for federal employees are somewhat nebulous in that they differentiate art that is simply for decoration from art that serves as a business investment. According to the Office of Government Ethics, if the art is intended for investment purposes and is worth more than $1,000, it should be disclosed. 

Ivanka Trump and Kushner?s haul is certainly worth far more than $1,000; works by Da Corte and Colen are worth around half a million each. But how do you tell if an artwork is indeed ?an investment?? One indication, as ethics lawyer Robert Walker told artnet, is whether or not a collector frequently buys and sells their work.

Kushner has sold only a single artwork, which doesn?t quite qualify as ?regular activity.? As Walker put it: ?A single sale does not necessarily mean that Kushner will need to disclose his art assets.?

Complicating this conclusion, however, is the fact that Trump herself described art as an investment in a 2015 article called ?How to Start Collecting Art,? published on her website. ?Think of art as an investment,? she advised readers, leaving little room to read between the lines.

Shimmying my way into the weekend! #TGIF

A post shared by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on

Trump, who is technically covered by Kushner?s disclosures as his wife, also frequently posts photos of her pricey pieces on Instagram, where they help cultivate her carefully curated image of #refined #sophistication. 

Occasionally, artists who?ve spotted their work online have spoken out, less than keen on being associated with the Trump legacy in any way.  Da Corte, for example, kindly requested: ?Dear @Ivankatrump please get my work off of your walls. I am embarrassed to be seen with you.?

Furthermore, the First Daughter?s art-centric posts are not just humble brags, they?re good business, making Kushner?s financial omission seem all the more dubious. Trump will often juxtapose images of contemporary art with pieces from her clothing brand, arguably using the artwork?s repute to influence her own products? character for personal gain. You know what makes a fancy purse look even fancier? A half-million dollar painting, that?s what. 

Because of the prospect that their work will somehow benefit Ivanka Trump?s brand, and thereby Donald Trump?s agenda, artists have been desperately trying to detach themselves from any and all Trump ties. An artist-led campaign called ?Dear Ivanka? has continuously led protests online and in person.

As art dealer Bill Powers put it: ?I think there are a lot of artists that are uncomfortable now being incorporated, or leveraged, as part of the Ivanka Trump brand.? 

Saturday Night Fever!

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