Winter Thriving in Maine: Avoiding Risks

What’s not to like about winter?

As a much younger (and less wise) person, I didn’t understand why some people leave their northern homes to winter in the south.  I imagined they must be like migratory birds, not really settled enough to call a particular place their permanent home.  Who needs to live in two places?  Besides, what’s not to like about winter (even a winter in Minnesota where I lived at the time)?

As an older (and I hope wiser) person, I now understand.  I walk like a turtle to avoid slipping on the ice in my rural Maine drive.  That doesn’t always work.  In fact, the first time I slipped and fell, I had to lay there for a while.  I kept thinking, “Is this it? It this the broken hip or back or neck?”  It took me a little while to catch my breath.  After determining there was not enough pain anywhere for a broken bone, I shakily got to my feet by hanging onto the car door.  Painfully sporting a black and blue backside for a few days, I got it.  THIS is why some people winter in the south.

I admit that my friend’s offer for a winter place to stay in Alabama some day is sounding more attractive as I step into my senior years (I just felt my body tense using the word senior in reference to myself.) .  I don’t exactly worry about aging.  I’ve always felt it beats the alternative.  But after that fall in the drive, I decided I would like to age safely, if not gracefully.

As an older (and I hope wiser) person, I now understand.  I’ve learned to walk like a turtle to avoid slipping on the ice in my rural Maine drive.  That doesn’t always work.

Whether I like the word senior is immaterial.  I am one.  And I’m not going to get younger or more physically capable.  I like Maine in the winter.  I want to safely navigate rural living for as long as my body can do that (minus the black and blue backside).  To top it off, I don’t presently have a moving-south option because I’m a working Maine senior.  So far, my game-plan for thriving in winter includes some fairly simply strategies:

I wear ugly boots (you know, the stout ones designed for freezing temperatures and not falling on your backside.  They aren’t fashion-friendly, but who cares if it’s the difference between breaking a hip or not breaking a hip?)

I wear Yaktrax on my ugly boots when it’s icy.  Yaktrax are ugly too.  But they are effective.  (Disclaimer: this is not an infomercial for Yaktrax.  They work well on my ugly boots.  Shop around to find something that works for your ugly boots.)

I have a way to stay warm and have a source of light in my home (what’s your stay-warm plan if the power goes out and your generator, if you have one, fails?)

Have a winter disaster kit to keep in your home (this 72-hour kit may have some over-the-top items in it, but you get the idea.  What will you need if you can’t get anywhere for three days or more?  Put it in your kit and keep it up to date.)

Keep steps and walkways thoroughly shoveled and dry (none of that old snow and ice build-up where the treads and risers meet.  Catch a heel on that stuff and down you go.)

Develop a winter plan with your neighbors.  There’s support and safety in numbers.

I don’t drive or go out in a raging storm (one would think this is a given.  The number of vehicles ending up off the road during any raging Maine storm clearly demonstrates it is not.)

I keep essential winter items in my car in case I get stranded (Ready Wisconsin has a great list and handy tips for winter vehicle safety.  Put your own stuff together – it’s better and much less expensive than purchasing a packaged kit.)

I keep my car well-maintained and I use snow tires (not everyone needs these.  Driving my car in the winter is a bit like driving a kite.  I need snow tires to get out of my drive to the main road even on milder days.)

I don’t drive or go out in a raging storm (one would think this is a given.  The number of vehicles ending up off the road during any raging Maine storm clearly demonstrates it is not.)

I know that most adults, senior or not, who live in Maine know how to get along in the cold and snow.  The challenge is that aging complicates things.  It’s not as easy to keep up with Mother Nature.  The older one gets, the more complicated it becomes.

Bottom line: What’s your winter plan?  Who else knows you have one?  What would happen if you got stuck at home or in your car?  How will you call for help if you fall?  If you are receiving home services, what do you need to have in place if providers can’t get to you right away?

Putting something in place as an answer to these and other winter questions will help you avoid winter risks and keep the season more enjoyable.

When Someone You Love is Dying

Every human life comes to a close.  Intellectually, we all know that.  At that level, it’s just a fact.  Death happens.

We’ll all end up as a little piece of history.  That doesn’t take on any real meaning until we’ve actually bumped up against it.  Even then, it can be pretty tough to open ourselves to the inevitable.

We can’t point to a place in history to exclaim, “See?  Here’s one.  No Death!”

It seems that some aspects of opening up to our mortality just naturally want to be placed on hold.  Recognizing that someone we love or care for is nearing death remains at serious odds with other complex emotions.  It’s awfully hard to imagine, “What if this is it?” We naturally want to hold hope that this isn’t “it.”

What isn’t hard to imagine is how you can be supported through that.

Whether a family caregiver, a friend, or someone supporting a family, knowing how to serve in that capacity goes a long way to reduce anxiety.  Recently, Lincoln Home offered community education on Sharing the Care.  It’s an amazing way to build a team of supporters in a short period of time.  Whether for a pending death or to help someone through a rough patch with their health and recovery, having proficient skills in basic care-giving can be a saving grace.

It’s inevitable. When you’re called upon to provide care for someone who means a lot to you, a care-provider class will give you valuable skills and confidence.

After-Death Care

Believe it or not, this is an important piece for connecting with your loved-one and healing loss.  Check out the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine for information on after-death care and making home funeral arrangements.

Giving Excellent Care: From Our Home to Yours

excellent care

Giving Excellent Care: From Our Home to Yours is being offered again this fall!  Our first class in the Spring of 2017 was such a huge success, we are offering it again.

This free twenty hour course is for informal caregivers who have or want to have home care giving experience and who are not already certified as a PSS or a CNA in the state of Maine.

This course focuses on practical skills necessary to safely and skillfully provide personalized, high quality care by applying a solid base of practical knowledge on which to build confident care-giving.

Do you suddenly find yourself facing family care-giving responsibilities?  This class is for you!

Do you want to gain solid skills for informal home care-giving? This class is definitely for you!

Do you want to prepare for working with an agency providing personal and homemaker services?  This class is truly for you!

A course completion certificate will be given to all participants who complete the full 20 hours of training. Completion of the class does not result in a formal, state-approved certification but completing this course will definitely boost your confidence and significantly enhance your care-giving skills.  This course is a great stepping stone should you want to continue your education elsewhere in pursuit of a PSS or CNA certification.

Call to register today, space is limited!

Details:
Giving Excellent Care runs on Tuesdays for five weeks, beginning Tuesday, September 26, 2017.

Dates: 9/26, 10/03, 10/10, 10/17, and 10/24.
Time: 9:00am – 1:00pm
Location: The Lincoln Home, 22 River Rd, Newcastle, ME 04553
FMI/Register: Valerie Lovelace, One2One Home Care, 563-3350, ext. 23, between 8:00am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

You may also contact us here.

Want to know more about Lincoln Home?  Click HERE!

Why Talk About Home Care? Well, Why Not?

Home care? I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it

Many seniors resist home care because they feel they should be able to manage things on their own.  Whether they should or not isn’t really the question.  There’s no rule stating that seniors should be able to manage on their own.  Using the word “should” under these circumstances sometimes helps people avoid facing the word “can’t.”

If you are the adult child of a senior who is needing a little extra help around the house, you might try posing some different kinds of questions with your loved one.  It could mean all the difference in being able to support their desire to remain independent.  Your desire to avoid exhausting yourself as a family caregiver will be well served, too!

How long do you want to remain independently in your home/apartment?

People who truly want to remain in their homes generally respond with words like forever or I’m not going anywhere.  I’m going to die here.  And that’s fine.  There could be some obstacles to making that possible, though.  Forethought and planning ahead can help.  Following up with more specific questions can pave the way to meaningful discussion.  And that can pave the way to putting a workable care plan in place for the long haul.

“Mom, dad, what steps are you taking right now to ensure that can happen for you?”

Home care why? Why not?

This is just about the time a deer-in-the-headlights look may flash across your folks’ faces.  You’ll know you’ve work to do if the response is a wave of the hand and “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”  It’s obviously important not to argue.  Getting into a tug-o-war when mom or dad dig in their heels won’t solve anything.  It could actually make the situation worse.

Are you willing to talk about putting some plans in place before things aren’t fine?

It takes a lot of patience and, in some cases, an iron will to set aside family dynamics and become the calm voice of reason.  Try acknowledging how important the wish to stay at home feels, and forge ahead:

There’ll be a lot of bridges to cross and I know you’re fine at the moment.  I’d like it to be possible that things remain fine for you.  Are you willing to talk about putting some plans in place before things aren’t fine?

It isn’t easy for anyone to say, “No, I’m not willing,” even when entrenched.  If you frame your questions so an affirmative response is easier to say, you can gain a lot of ground very quickly in your conversations.  Avoiding use of the word why helps remove potentially defensive reactions.  That allows the question to come through more clearly.   Structuring framework or boundaries around questions helps keep the focus.

Rather than using the word why, try using how or what

Using the word why can trigger defensiveness in some conversations.  Stating that your senior should get help around the house can set off an emotional response, making conversation more difficult.

What does it feel like when you think about someone who isn’t me taking you to get your groceries once a week? (Basically says, “This isn’t going to be easy for either of us” and sets the boundary that it won’t always be you helping to run errands.).

Home care running errands

When you are no longer driving,  what’s the best way for getting to your appointments while I’m working? (Implies the inevitable loss of driving without saying “when you can no longer” or “when you aren’t able.”  Sets boundary around when adult child will or will not be available.).

When you think about someone coming to do light housekeeping or cooking with you, what kind of reaction do you have? (Allows expression of concerns and sets boundaries. Notice use of “with you” rather than “for you.”).

home care kitchen help

Loads of errands, cleaning, cooking, appointments, fun excursions, and some wonderful companionship can happen with just a few hours a week.  Home care takes the pressure off family caregivers.  It helps seniors establish and maintain new relationships.  In-home care lends a sense of safety and confidence to seniors who really want to stay at home as long as possible.

Share these top five reasons to choose in-home care with your loved one.  Then contact One2One Home Care for more information.

Death Cafe Founder, Jon Underwood, Dies at 44

Walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death

I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Jon Underwood personally.  I interviewed him a few years ago to learn about  Death Cafe.  Being in the process of founding a similar kind of venture, I sought like-minded others.  I really wanted to hear their stories.  Jon was one of them.  I wanted to learn what it had been like for him to walk, quite literally, into the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  He strode boldly and publicly into such conversations, complete with tea and cake, in 2011.

Death Cafe discussions now take place from Australia to Nigeria and every place in between.  As of this writing, there have been 4836 Death Cafe discussions in 51 countries.  And these are just the ones registered on the Death Cafe website.

What was it that motivated him?  More importantly, why?

As I recall, he explained it something like this: the monsters in the closet are only scary until we shed light on them.  Jon felt (and I do, too) that talking about Death in a very real and personal way ultimately makes those conversations less uncomfortable.  More than that, something kind of amazing begins to take place: a deeper, more thoughtful appreciation for life in all its forms starts to develop.  And then to flourish.

Death, Dying

Dying Matters.  A lot.

People say it’s too hard to talk about dying.  Honestly, it’s easier than you think.  Particularly if you or a loved one aren’t actually in the throes of doing it while trying to start the conversation.

Seniors frequently say to me they want to talk about it with their kids, but the kids don’t want to.  Adult children often say to me they want to talk about it with their folks, but the folks don’t want to.  When I hear this, I have to wonder whether either has actually tackled the subject with the other and who is really doing the avoiding!

I’m pretty certain that Jon Underwood did not imagine in 2011 that he would die in 2017 at the age of 44, leaving behind his wife, his children, and a world full of people who understand what he was trying to accomplish.  And I’m also feeling certain that his having talked openly about dying hasn’t lessened the incredible shock his family currently experiences with this  kind of a loss.

Talking About Dying Matters a Lot, Too

Here’s what I do know.  He’s left behind a legacy of openness and authenticity that’s hard to argue with.  He’s given his family, friends, and thousands of others across the globe a creative way to address the elephant in the living room.  That means something.  And that’s what life and death are: the meaning we make of it.

Here’s the bonus: Damariscotta Death Cafe has been meeting monthly for four years and is as lively and strong as ever.  Join in the fun on the second Monday of each month at Savory Maine, 9:00am.  No agenda.  No taboos.

Here’s to you, Jon.  I hope wherever you are now, there’s tea, cake, and heartfelt conversation.

 

Love, Death

Hire a Home CareGiver: What to Watch For

Chances are good that your loved one wants to remain at home as long as possible.   I know I do.  And let’s be honest about that – it’s not an easy promise to keep.  In fact, it isn’t always possible to do that.  But it can be more possible when you hire a caregiver to work in the home.

When that is possible, you want assurance that the person you hire to provide helping hands is going to be reliable and trustworthy.

Check out these AARP tips for hiring an in-home provider.

Then give us a call!

hire caregiver, peace of mind, home care, home health, maine

What, Exactly, is Home Care?

The short version: Home care services relate to being  able to live safely and comfortably in your home.  And that’s something most of us want to do for as long as possible.  That might mean light housekeeping and helping you run errands.  It could mean supporting you with comfort and companionship as you live with chronic illness or life-ending disease.  It more likely means both and anything in between, including pet care, meal making, or going on an excursion.

Mediline Plus offers great resources to explore more about home care services.  Learn about important questions to ask and how to choose trustworthy services.  Find simple ways to make your home a safer place to live.   Understand the difference between using an agency and hiring someone privately on your own.  Know the risks and safeguards involved in either choice.

If it feels appropriate, include family members and close friends in your home care search.  Let them know what’s important regarding your quality of life goals.   Whether just doing your homework or actively looking for support, sometimes others’ ideas can be very helpful.  Asking for help is hard for some people, but it can go a long way toward ensuring you receive high quality services with a reliable agency.

Feel free to give us a call with your questions.

home care, maine, newcastle, quality of life

 

First Home Care Training Class Graduates!

SIX HOME CARE PROVIDERS COMPLETE TWENTY HOUR EXCELLENCE IN CARE-GIVING CLASS

Training came to a close today after twenty hours of training spread over a five week period. Class participants learned a range of handy skills for in-home care-giving. Lincoln Home’s Giving Excellent Care in the Home: From Our Home to Yours curriculum centers on simple but important skills that boost confidence and help home care givers gain insight.

Class topics cover a broad range of skills. Right from the start students jump in with both feet, taking on subjects like personal values, home safety, and how to help granny with her dentures. Learning different skills and techniques help students become more confident providers.

I ENJOYED THE ACTIVITIES AND GAMES. THAT REALLY ENHANCED my training.

Student feedback helps us know what we’re doing well and what we can do better. It’s exciting to hear how the class was received, and even more exciting to know we’ve made a difference in our community with this class offering.

I gained so much through this class. I now have a different perspective and feel more confident caring for my stepfather.

I liked the way we reviewed chapters after reading them. It felt easier to take in the lessons that way.

I learned about all aspects of daily living. I gained a lot of new information and recognize that every care-giving situation is going to be different. This class is fantastic!

I liked the interaction with other students during activities.

We all got off to a good start that provided ease of sharing information and asking questions.

I learned a lot about care-giving. The biggest lesson I take away from this class is “someone else’s emergency is not my emergency.”

Please stay tuned. Lincoln Home will offer this course again in the fall of 2017.  Watch our Facebook page for the event posting!

Veteran Style: Living with Fierce Independence

A Veteran in Maine can face many challenges with aging.  Wishing to remain independently at home is quite common for any senior.  The Veterans Administration at Togus offers a wide variety of services to meet the needs of senior and/or disabled veterans: mobile and satellite clinics, tele-medicine, traveling physicians/nurses, and many other services, including these important home care services.

SPOILER ALERT: A VETERAN WHO ASKs FOR HELP is NOT, REPEAT, NOT TAKING SERVICES FROM OTHER VETERANS.

If you are a veteran receiving your primary medical care through the Veterans Administration system, you may be eligible for services to support your ability to remain at home with as high a quality of life as possible.

How does that work?  Your primary care physician at Togus actually needs to hear if you are having challenges with independent living.  That’s a pretty tough thing for any service member to say out loud. You might feel that being a veteran is about being tough, self-sufficient, and able to take care of yourself and everyone around you.  In fact, you may even feel that being a military person is about duty, responsibility, and not asking for help.

being a VETERAN is ABOUT SELF-SACRIFICE AND NOT ASKING FOR ANYTHING IN RETURN, RIGHT?  WRONG.

Being a veteran is tough duty, for sure.  Many vets believe they are “not sick enough.” They think they should “save the benefits for someone who really needs them.”  The truth is, former service members often go without services they truly need.  If the services are available and you are eligible for them, you need to know that this kind of thinking is flawed.  There is enough to go around.  A veteran with the courage to ask for help is not, repeat NOT, taking services from anyone else.

A proud veteran recognizes that after serving his or her country, the country really wants to serve them back.  Unsure?  Make an appointment with your VA Primary Care Provider to discuss your needs and options.

The State of Maine values its veterans in many ways, some of which may surprise you!  Check the Maine.gov website for more information.

veteran, home care, independence, home care, newcastle, maine