A Key To Open Doors

Caring For Our Elderly Loved Ones

Editor's Note:  This guest blog was written by Michele Slater.

A lot of us baby boomers are stuck smack in the middle of two emotionally and financially challenging realities; our children AND our elderly parents.  Kids, as we all know, are a constant Imagesfinancial drain but we love them, what choice do we have?

Elderly parents are more complicated.  I learned some things in the past couple of weeks with my mother in ICU and now in extended rehabilitation after complications from a car accident.  I'd like to share them with you. 

My dad can’t handle the finances or the doctors and all the paperwork and details that go with managing my mother's care.  With the advice of a dear friend whose dad has been in long-term care, I obtained what’s called a Durable Power of Attorney (POA).  You can download it free from the internet (see below).

This does one very important thing; it opens doors.   Your parents still have the power to make decisions for themselves but it empowers you to talk to accountants, banks, doctors, hospitals, etc.  Durable POA bulldozes through roadblocks like you can’t believe.  Create one for each of your parents, fill in the blanks and have it notarized.  Once you have this you’re golden.

The other thing I learned is talk, talk, talk to the doctors.  They are very forthright once they realize they have someone empowered to gather information and speak for their patient.  I also found that doctors tend to be more diligent about seeking you out to share information if you have POA.

Also, get your arms around their affairs as quickly as possible.  I found that once I did this, it was much less stressful as I knew what I was dealing with.  Try it, you’ll like it…and hang in there. 

Free Durable Power of Attorney Form

The Marriage Game: Are You Keeping Score?

If you are counting each time you or your spouse 'wins' an argument, does a household chore, or takes over child care, you are keeping score.  Keeping score is destructive to a marriage.  Competition beyond light-hearted play can be dangerous to a loving relationship.  It sets you both up as opponents on opposite sides when you want to be partners on the same team. 

It's hard in our 'gimme' culture to have generosity of spirit.  When we live with too much stress we fight for every inch of control we can get.  When is being assertive actually being a bully?  When is picking your battles really passively wimping out? 

Why does it need to be one or the other?

Couples find harmony when they can genuinely trust one another enough that each partner has the other's happiness foremost in their hearts.  That means my partner is ready to do something that causes him discomfort because to do so is needed to make me happy.  At the same time I don't want him to be uncomfortable so I will do everything I can to minimize the need for his discomfort.  And vice versa.  See how it works? 

The road to this ideal is bumpy but well worth taking.  Negotiation is always necessary in a good relationship because we aren't, Thank God, clones of each other.  If both parties have the other's interest truly at heart you can reach a win-win settlement.

New Look, New Format for the EWN Blog!

To better serve Explore What's Next readers,  posts will be organized around the following features…

  • Mondays are 'Just For You' days, about self-esteem
    building, self-care and ideas for finding balance in our lives.
  • Wednesday features 'The Psychologist Is In' with a psycho-educational
    look at serious conditions like depression and anxiety.
  • Friday will be 'Marriage U' day.
  • Weekends belong to 'Family and Parenting.'

Peppered on alternate days will be quick links to thought provoking  sites and articles, observations, cool quotes and such. 

As much as I love blogging, I have a day job I'm equally passionate about.  So while I may not keep an exact every single week schedule, the days will be true to the category.  The new categories and structure will help provide more substantive content, easy referencing for archived posts and keep the fun!  You'll also notice a less cluttered look on the pages.  Keeping things simple is the idea. 

I hope you enjoy these changes.  Please provide feedback and suggestions for what you would like to hear
or learn more about in future EWN posts!

Being fit doesn't have to mean being skinny!

via Tara Parker-Pope, NYTimes Well blog

Five Soothing Ways to Greet the Day

When we wake up to a new day we make several important choices.  We choose to live, we choose to face the day and, usually, we choose to get out of bed.  Some days these hardly feel like choices at all.  We wake up and robotically go through a morning routine that just gets the job done. 

Over the years, I've decided it's better for my spirit to greet the day more conscientiously.  What I'm not talking about is exercising in the morning or eating a good breakfast.  This post is about what happens from the moment our brain comes into awareness from sleep to when we place our feet on the floor.

  1. Say thank you for the new day.  As soon as my brain can form a sentence I silently express gratitude for the new day then read an excerpt from a little book of very short daily meditations.  If you are spiritual, you might say a simple morning prayer.  If not, you can still acknowledge gladness for the opportunity inherent in the new day.  My favorite guided meditation begins:  Thank you for this new day. Thank you for my self, thank you for my consciousness in this day.  Today let me be fully awake.  Let me breathe, let me relax, let me feel my sensations and emotions, let me watch and observe and let me allow and give permission.  
  2. Stretch and body check.  This habit developed in my twenties while recovering from a bout of kidney problems.  People with chronic illness and those of us who have reached a certain age do not take our bodies' cooperation for granted.  While still lying in bed I like to pull my body up through my fingers and down through my toes, like I'm on the rack but in a good way.
  3. Breathe.  Thoughtful, deep, slow, lung-filling breaths.  Oxygenate!
  4. Make the first thing you see is something beautiful.  My bed is arranged so that it faces a large window revealing a lovely view of trees and sky.  In the summer it's wonderful.  In winter, well… Some years ago a client recovering from depression still hated getting up in the morning.  Dark winter mornings were the worst.  I asked her what kept her going.  Her grandchildren, she said.  Did she have any pictures of her grandchildren on her bedside table?  No.  At my suggestion she cleaned up her cluttered table, set up photos of her kids, grandkids, arranged some silk flowers in a favorite vase, added a bowl of dried lavender.  Later she said that one change, waking up everyday to her grandchildrens' sweet faces, made all the difference to her.
  5. Get up thoughtfully.  A yoga instructor of mine said people traumatize their bodies daily just by moving about thoughtlessly.  Getting up suddenly from a reclining position could be  especially jarring, not good for your chakras!  She suggested rolling over onto your side, then pushing up slowly by pressing your hands down and lifting your torso up.  Once your sitting, swing your legs over the edge of the bed and place your feet on the floor.

Good Morning!

Editor's Note:  In the spirit of better serving Explore What's Next readers, Mondays at Explore What's Next will be 'Just For You' days.  Just For You will focus on self-esteem building, inspiring self-care and ideas for finding balance in our lives.  I hope you enjoy this change.  Feel free to provide helpful feedback and suggestions for what you would like to hear or learn more about in future EWN posts. 

Parenting: A Tricky Business

Editor's Note:  This guest blog is from Southern California Mom

The other day, after I wrote my first guest blog, I was walking downstairs with my ten year old son so that we could read together before bed.  As he chatted away, I had a self-congratulatory grin on my face.

"What's so funny?" he asked.

"Oh, nothing in particular," I said. "Just happy with the way that blog turned out."

He got a puzzled look on his face and asked me what he had been saying.  Only then did I realize he was talking to me at all.  I had been completely wrapped up in myself.

Life threw me a pop quiz and I failed.  I hate when that happens!  And it happens more than I care to admit.  Keeping that balance between taking care of the kids while looking after oneself is tricky business.  It's a pendulum that swings back and forth.  Sometimes I feel like a broken clock, I only get it right about twice a day.

Maybe that isn't so bad.  'Most of the time' is close to right, almost right or at least not excruciatingly bad.

This Is What Fifty Looks Like

Thirteen Olympians Over Forty

Hearing a lot about the dubious ages of the Chinese gymnastics team?   Me, too, and I feel sorry for those kids.  Meanwhile there's nothing questionable about the ages of these over-forty Olympians (like Susan Nattrass pictured here).  They are the real thing.  There will be a livelier bounce in my run tomorrow because of them.

US Athletes

Libby Callahan, 56, shooting
John Dane III, 58, sailing
Jeff Hartwig, 40, pole vault
Butch Johnson, 52, archery
Brenda Shinn, 46, shooting
Dara Torres, 41, swimming
Debbie McDonald, 53, equestrian
Karen O'Connor, 50, equestrian

Canadian Athletes
Tim Berrett, 43, race walker
Ian Millar, 61, equestrian show jumper
Susan Nattrass, 57, shooting
Jujie Luan, 50, fencing team.

Hiroshi Hoketsu, 67, equestrian dressage team.

Road Trip Munchies Re-Visited

More On Surviving the Staycation Vacation.

For last weekend's trip (Number 2 for the month) I applied a little common sense:

If you don't want to binge on trans fats don't have them in the car!

Instead I brought along washed grapes, grape tomatoes, blueberries, baby carrots and a bag of Smartfood.  The cheesy, salty, crunchy Smartfood  satisfied the cheesy, salty, crunchy neuron receptors in my brain.  Not really all that 'smart' and hardly qualifying as 'food' but not egregiously offensive calorie wise; which meant I didn't have to disgrace myself by wrestling the Zesty Taco flavored Doritos out of my teenagers' hands. 

Peace reigned in the car and I arrived at our destination not hating myself.

Coming soon: How to make home re-entry as easy as possible after a road trip OR Why am I so tired after just sitting for six hours?

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others;
for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness;
and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

~ Audrey Hepburn

Six Fixes For Road Trip Munchies

What is it about road trips that make me crave Cheetos?  Is it the ‘to hell with rules’ spirit of the road?  Is it regression to an earlier time when we used to pile a family of seven, two cats (one pregnant) and a dog in the Rambler (no seat belts) and head for the sunset?  Come to think of it, we ate rather well on those trips.  My Mom would fill a picnic basket with chicken, hard-boiled eggs, cherries and grapes.  So I can’t blame nostalgia.

Whatever it is, I have two more road trips planned this month and intervention is critical or I’ll end up looking like Kristie Alley’s “before” picture by Labor Day.  On the return trip last weekend I tried  these steps and they helped.  If you have any ideas to combat Road Trip Munchies I’d love to hear them!

  1. Bring your own pillow & earplugs.  Falling asleep was so much better than stuffing my face.
  2. Distraction helps.  Bring a fully loaded iPod, books & magazines.
  3. Be the driver.  It’s harder to open a bag of anything
  4. Water is good but I need a flavor so unsweetened iced tea worked better for thirst.  I read somewhere that soda stimulates the appetite.  Maybe it’s the caffeine.
  5. Snacks that balance salt, sweet, with texture and actually provide some kind of nutrient.  Nuts, granola bars, popcorn, dried or cut up fruit, vegetables.
  6. Have mints or chewing gum in the car.  Also sugar free candies.  My kids love gummy worms so we get the sugar free chewy stuff and it works for all of us.
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