Physical objects can powerfully connect us to memories. As an example I give you...a toaster. This is no ordinary Sunbeam Thinline Self Lowering toaster (also known as the "Touch n Toast"). It's the one from my grandparents' farmhouse kitchen, that went with them after they sold the farm and moved into the house in Traer, that they took with them when they moved to the condo in Cedar Rapids, that we brought to the casa in the Hollywood Hills after they had both passed, that now resides at my brother's house in Woodland Hills. And, by all accounts, still makes a damn fine piece of toast. Made even better by adding two pats of Land O' Lakes Salted butter.
It's a very special object to me, that isn't worth much in material terms -- I found one on eBay for $33.87 which is honestly more than I thought, and yet, why not $34? -- but it connects me to my past in a way that feels good to me. Objects and treasures like these helped me cope with losing Mom to Alzheimer's when she had the disease and later after it took her from us. They brought back the best memories of her then, and they keep her with me now.
The stories that surround objects are fun and even therapeutic to share. My friend Shannon Uschold gets this and created https://www.generationstory.com, an app that lets you share the stories of the toasters in your life.
For many in caregiving situations, the holidays can be really tough. Adding to the difficulty are memories — both positive and negative ones. To make things worse, it's also the time when everyone else is cheerful, yet you still have to face the struggle.
For those who are no longer caregivers, it can be especially difficult to remedy the memories of the past with your present, whether from moving the loved one into a facility or in the event they’ve passed on. It's the uncomfortable part of being human, the "touchy-feely" mess that we try desperately to ignore.
It can be extremely stressful to be a working individual as well as a caregiver for a loved one. Not knowing how your loved one is doing while you're away at work can become a major distraction and may cause you to leave work early and/or take more days off. It is estimated that more than half of employed caregivers work full-time, and according to a survey from Gallup-Healthways conducted in 2011, "Caregivers working at least 15 hours per week indicated that this assistance significantly affected their work life."
Having to rearrange your work schedule and decrease your hours may feel inconsequential when it comes to helping your loved one, but it can have massive impacts on your well-being and future. Employed caregivers who rearrange their schedules can suffer loss of wages, Social Security benefits and health insurance, as well as retirement savings. Gallup-Healthways also reported that in 2011, caregiver absenteeism cost the U.S. economy "an estimated $25.2 billion in lost productivity." This situation is detrimental to both sides.
Many employed caregivers feel an obligation to check in with their loved ones and be present to have the most updated information on their loved one's condition. We created the Care Card for situations just like this. If you're at work and want to receive updates about your loved one from a caregiver at home, you can receive notifications without ever leaving your office. By connecting everyone who cares for your loved one with the Care Card, they can all input updates as they interact with him/her. Our goal is always to keep everyone on the same page, and if you can know how your loved one is doing without having to leave the office, productivity is likely to increase and you won't have to worry about losing any of your benefits down the road.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You manage an aging parent's care. You help them with all of the things they need to get through their day or weekly life and spend a significant chunk of time doing everything. You've given up some opportunities in life, and tend to take on the lion's share when it comes to the patient's needs, even though you have siblings or other family members.
This is a very normal situation. And, regardless of how we might feel when things get stressful, it doesn't necessarily mean that your relatives don't care or are intentionally throwing you under the bus. Sometimes, it's a matter of personality. Other times, it's a matter of availability. Still yet, it can be a matter of mental health or just being completely overloaded at work.
Family is complicated. That might be the understatement of the century. But when you’re in a caregiving position for someone with an incurable condition, it becomes even more so. Memories can be complicated, too.
I remember the time my dad checked me out of school when I was in 4th grade — a complete surprise. Things were never perfect, and at times the relationship between us (the kids) and him could be rocky. But there were times also that his love and kindness were unparalleled.
Care card Blog
If you have a loved one receiving long term care The Care Card can help ensure that their needs and preferences are always met.