9 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 5

Letters from Madelyn – Chapter 5
“A Caregiver’s Faith”

Caregiver struggles with faithA caregiver’s faith is often the most powerful weapon against despair. At the same time, most caregivers have a lot of questions for God: Why do good people get sick? Is there any purpose in suffering? What are we supposed to be learning from all of this?

My mother’s faith was deep, but it was far from traditional. She questioned and challenged everything. In today’s episode of “Letters from Madelyn” I hope you’ll listen with an open mind as my mother talks about attending a World Religion Class at the local college. You’ll hear that she didn’t have much use for the Old Testament. She wasn’t the least bit afraid to challenge […]

7 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 4

Letters from Madelyn – Chapter 4
“And for This I Take Vitamins!”

Caregiver questions why she should take vitamins

I was asked to speak at our church on Mother’s Day, 2004 about mother-daughter relationships. I wanted people to know who she had been in her own words, so I went out to the garage and pulled down a large cardboard moving box my husband had labeled “Letters from Madelyn.” I read dozens of letters looking for this one.

After I did my little presentation, people came up to me and exclaimed, “You have to write a book!” I knew they were right, and I started on it the next day.

In this letter, Mom wrote about how she found peace and happiness from within by maintaining […]

3 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 3

Letters from Madelyn – Chapter 3
“Fire! Fire! Madelyn Gets Mad”

caregiver angerMy mother was not a saint. Like most people in a similar situation, she often experienced caregiver anger. She wrote this letter after Dad got involved in putting out a wheat field fire the first summer after his stroke.

She believed he’d suffered the original stroke as a result of working too hard and getting too tired. She was afraid if he pushed himself to the limit again that he might have another stroke. She knew it could kill him. On the other hand, she knew it might not. If he had another stroke and it debilitated him to the point that she could no longer care for him at home, she […]

2 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 2

Letters from Madelyn – Chapter 2
“Grandma Tells It Like It Is”

Caregiver Tough Love

In Chapter 2 of “Letters from Madelyn”, my mother writes a “howler” letter to my son Eric on his 18th birthday, and she dishes out a healthy dose of caregiver tough love. (As I may have mentioned earlier, Mom never sugar-coated anything!)

I had gone through a horrendous divorce and a devastating job loss. My kids and I were all in a state of sorrow and confusion. As my mother was adjusting to her new role as a caregiver, she was also doing everything she could to emotionally support my struggling family.

Caregivers don’t live in a bubble. Often people who are caring for a loved one are also working a […]

1 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn AudioBook: Chapter 1

Letters from Madelyn – Chapter 1
Life Falls Apart

“Letters from Madelyn, Chronicles of a Caregiver” is a compilation of the letters my mother wrote to me during the six-and-a-half years she cared for my dad following his debilitating stroke. People often tell me that Madelyn gives them permission to be human. Perhaps it’s because she is totally honest and never sugar coats anything!

In recognition of National Family Caregivers Month, I will be posting chapters of the audiobook this month as a gift to caregivers like my mother who often struggle to maintain a positive attitude while they care for those who can no longer care for themselves.

I promise you will laugh more than you cry.

Click here to listen to Chapter 1 – “Life Falls Apart”
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31 10, 2018

Remembering a Loved One

Remembering Aunt JeanRemembering Aunt Jean

My Aunt Jean died two years ago today. (Had she been aware of the date, she would have been tremendously angry and indignant that her life ended on Halloween!)

When I went to tell Jean’s friends at her active retirement community that she had died from complications related to pneumonia, one man who always sat with her at breakfast exclaimed, “Jean was the crankiest old woman I’ve ever known!” Then, his voice thick with emotion,  he added, “But I loved her, and I will miss her!”

Jean had moved from Florida in 2006 to be close to us after her husband died. For ten years, she was an active member of […]

25 09, 2018

Dealing with Caregiver Guilt after a Loved One Dies

Caregiver Guilt After Death

Caregiver Guilt After Death

I received an email from a woman last week whose husband had just died after a long illness with ALS. The disease was relentless in its progression, and in her words, “The last three years were brutal.”

Her husband lost the ability to speak, eat, or move without assistance. During the last year, someone from Hospice came in four days a week and stayed for about an hour.  The rest of the time, she managed his needs on her own. 

Although she had cared for him around the clock for six years, she was racked with guilt and obsessed by her memories of the times she had lost […]

4 09, 2018

Put an End to Caregiver Guilt

How to Stop Feeling Guilty When You Haven’t Done Anything Wrong

I saw a headline in a newspaper recently that stated 54% of senior caregivers feel guilty about taking a break from their caregiving tasks to make time for themselves.*

The dictionary defines guilt as a sense of having done something wrong or having failed in an obligation. I believe guilt is an appropriate response when a person intentionally inflicts physical or emotional pain on another person. However, as a general rule, I think guilt is a cruel and manipulative emotion that is experienced way too often by caregivers. 

It might be helpful to ask yourself if your guilt is self-imposed or if it is being imposed upon you […]

17 08, 2018

Coping with Caregiver Anger

Coping with Caregiver Anger & the 3 F’s of Flipping Out

If you are caring for someone who is aging, disabled, or living with a cognitive disorder, you already know that caregiver anger is part of the journey. You are well aware that the physical aspect of caregiving is demanding, dreary, and sometimes downright disgusting. As difficult as that is, though,  it doesn’t even begin to compare to the emotional stress of caring for someone who can no longer take care of him/herself.

It may help to know that anger is a normal and predictable response to situations over which we have little or no control. As a caregiver, the number of situations over which you have no control are practically limitless—starting with  the progression of […]

6 08, 2018

What’s Funny About Caregiver Fatigue

One Woman’s Whacky Plan to Overcome Caregiver Fatigue & Get Free Long-Term Care

What’s funny about caregiver fatigue? Absolutely NOTHING!  Having a sense of humor can be an effective coping tool, as demonstrated in this hilarious video, but it can’t compensate for a chronic lack of sleep.

If your care receiver isn’t sleeping at night, chances are good that you aren’t sleeping either. You may be intimately familiar with caregiver fatigue and that horrible feeling of waking up each morning feeling even more exhausted than when you went to bed.  If you are starting each day wondering how you will find the physical, mental, and emotional energy to get through the day, it will be critically important for you […]